Trial against Navjot Singh Sidhu in relation to 2009 Amritsar Parliamentary Constituency election to recommence

Supreme Court: Dealing with the appeal by Navjot Singh Sidhu, the returned candidate in the election held on 13th May, 2009 for the 02-Amritsar Parliamentary Constituency, where he had argued that there was no ground to proceed with the trial against him as no triable issue has been disclosed in the election petition, the Bench of Ranjan Gogoi and Abhay Manohar Sapre, JJ partly allowed the appeal and directed that the trial should recommence in respect of the allegations relating to election expenses incurred by the appellant on account of campaign through electronic/print media.

Explaining the law, the Court said that in case of an Election Petition founded on allegations of corrupt practice not only the ‘material facts’ have to be pleaded but even the full particulars thereof have to be furnished at the stage of filing of the Election Petition itself. This is specifically provided for in Section 83(1)(b) of the R.P. Act. In the present case, it was noticed that the dates on which the advertisements had appeared; the particulars of the newspapers in which such advertisements were published; the cost incurred for each type of advertisement in each newspaper, have all been mentioned by the election petitioner. The Court, hence, held that when details to the above extent have been mentioned in the Election Petition, it cannot be said that full particulars as required under Section 83(1)(b) of the R.P. Act have not been furnished by the election petitioner.

Regarding the contention of the election petitioner that the expenses incurred on these public meetings is much more than what has been shown in the return of election expenses under the said head (Rs.1,83,466/-), the Court said that while the details of the meetings i.e. the time, date and venue are mentioned and so is the number of persons who are claimed to have attended the meetings, there is no basis as to how the election petitioner had arrived at the quantum of expenses which he alleges to have been incurred by the returned candidate in holding each of the said meetings. What are the source(s) of information of the election petitioner with regard to the details furnished; whether he has personal knowledge of any of the said meetings; who are the persons who informed him of the details of such meetings; what is the basis of the estimate of the number of persons present and the facilities (chairs etc.) that were hired and the particulars of the refreshments served are nowhere pleaded. All such particulars that are an integral part of the allegation of corrupt practice alleged are absent. Hence, the Court said that the allegation of commission of corrupt practice of submission of false/incorrect return of election expenses is struck off. [Navjot Singh Sidhu v. Om Prakash Soni, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1204, decided on 26.10.2016]

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