NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking disqualification of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar as an MLC on the ground that he had allegedly suppressed the fact from the poll panel that a murder case was pending against him.
The top court said a candidate is liable to disclose the pendency of a criminal case only after a court takes its cognisance and rejected the PIL filed by a lawyer, saying it lacked merits.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud took note of the submission of the Chief Minister that he had revealed to the Election Commission the fact of pendency of the case in 2012 after the court took cognisance of it in 2009.
"The Election rules say that he (Nitish Kumar) should declare it (pendency of criminal case) post cognisance of the case," the bench said, adding "having heard the counsel for parties, we do not find any merit and the petition is dismissed".
The chief minister's counsel informed the court that the trial in the case has been stayed by the Patna High Court and moreover, no illegality has been committed by Kumar.
The PIL, filed by advocate M L Sharma, had alleged that there was a criminal case against the JD(U) leader in which he was accused of killing a local Congress leader Sitaram Singh and injuring four others ahead of the Lok Sabha by-election from Bihar's Barh constituency in 1991.
The lawyer has sought cancellation of Kumar's membership of the state Legislative Council in accordance with the Election Commission's 2002 order that it was mandatory for candidates to disclose criminal cases against them in their affidavits annexed to the nomination papers.
He claimed that the Bihar chief minister did not disclose the criminal case pending against him in affidavits since 2004, except in 2012.
Earlier, the Election Commission Commission of India had sought dismissal of the plea, terming it as "not maintainable" and "an abuse of the process of the court".
The poll panel had said that no fundamental rights of the petitioner lawyer or of the citizens of this country had been violated "in any manner whatsoever so as to merit the interference of this court under Article 32 of the Constitution".