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HC Rejects Moquim’s Prayer

Cuttack: In a major jolt for senior Congress leader and Cuttack-Barabati MLA Mohammed Moquim ahead of elections, the High Court today rejected his petition against the conviction passed by a vigilance court against him in a corruption case.  

On September 29, 2022, the Special Judge Vigilance, Bhubaneswar had convicted Moquim, managing director of Metro Builders Pvt. Ltd. along with IAS officer Vinod Kumar and others for obtaining pecuniary advantage in favour of the real-estate firm in guise of loans meant for rural poor from Odisha Rural Housing & Development Corporation Ltd (ORHDC).

The court had sentenced Moquim to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of three years and to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 and in default he has to undergo further imprisonment for a period of six months.

Moquim immediately moved to Orissa High Court challenging his conviction and inter alia filed a petition seeking to stay the conviction till conclusion of the appeal.

On October 19, 2022, the High Court had stayed the conviction pending appeal, finding this to be an exceptional case to stay the order of conviction. Thereafter, State Vigilance filed SLP before the Supreme Court of India against the order dated 19.10.2022 of the High Court.

The SC in its order dated 22.09.2023, directed the High Court to dispose off the appeal pending before it within a period of six months from the date of order.

Accordingly, the HC passed the order today dismissing the appeal filed by Moquim, upholding the conviction order passed by the Court of Special Judge Vigilance, Bhubaneswar.

Now, it is almost certain that the Congress leader would not be eligible to contest the upcoming elections, unless he get some relief from the apex court.

As per the People’s Representatives Act, 1951, a politician, if convicted for two years or above, cannot contest in elections for at least six years from completion of his conviction.  

Senior BJD leader and Rajya Sabha member Debashish Samantray said that Moquim would not be eligible to contest the upcoming election as he has been convicted for more than 3 years.