Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Lok Pal Singh, J. dismissed a writ petition filed by a village pradhan challenging the order of District Court (revisional court) whereby matter pertaining to the validity of his election as pradhan was directed to be considered afresh by the Prescribed Authority.

Petitioner was elected as the village pradhan of village Bahadurpur. Respondent filed an election petition under Section 12-C of the UP Panchayat Raj Act, 1947 against the petitioner on the ground of unfair practice, etc. Prescribed Authority formulated two issues, whether the petition was barred by provisions of Rule 11, Order 7 Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and whether the petition had not been filed in accordance with the law. Prescribed Authority recorded the finding that the plaintiff was required to issue a notice to the opposite party under Section 80 of CPC but the same has not been done, hence the election petition was barred. The petitioner preferred civil revision against this order which was allowed and the matter was remanded back to Prescribed Authority for deciding the matter afresh on merits. Aggrieved thereby, the Petitioner approached this Court under Article 227 of Constitution of India seeking a writ of certiorari for quashing the order passed by the revisional court.

Counsel for the petitioner Aditya Pratap Singh, submitted that the election petition had rightly been dismissed by the prescribed authority as the election petition was barred by the provisions of Rule 11, Order 7 CPC, and the revisional court had exceeded its jurisdiction in passing the impugned order. Counsel for the respondent, Ajay Veer Pundir and Narain Dutt submitted that there was no requirement to serve notice under Section 80 CPC in an election petition and the prescribed authority had committed patent error in law by dismissing the election petition.

The Court relied on the judgment of Kushuma Devi v. Sheopati Devi, 2019 SCC Online SC 482, in which it was held that every judicial or quasi-judicial order shall be supported with the reasons which support its conclusion, as the revisionary court while examining the correctness of the order is entitled to know the basis on which a particular conclusion was arrived at in the order. It was opind that the prescribed authority had not recorded any reasons for its order.

It was opined that reasons recorded in judgment are the life of law and in their absence, the judgment could not be said to be legal. The Prescribed Authority had travelled beyond the issues which were under the consideration and the revisional court was justified in remanding the matter back to the prescribed authority and hence writ petition was dismissed.

Further, the Court opined that without framing an issue in regard to notice under Section 80 CPC, the Prescribed Authority had held the election petition to be barred by Order 7 Rule 11 CPC. Thus, the findings recorded by Prescribed Authority in this regard were illegal, and therefore the revisional court’s order remanding the matter back to Prescribed Authority for fresh consideration was valid.

In view of the above, the petition was dismissed.[Narendra Singh v. Anil Kumar, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 471, decided on 14-05-2019]

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Supreme Court: The bench headed by Ranjan Gogoi, JJ has rejected the plea of sacked BSF Jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, challenging the Election Commission’s decision to reject his nomination papers from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. It said,

“we do not find any grounds to entertain the plea of Yadav”.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Yadav, said, as per earlier verdict of the Supreme Court, the election petition can be filed during enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the Election Commission, also referred to various Supreme Court judgments and said election petitions can only be filed after polls are over as it would vitiate the electoral process.

At the fag end of the hearing, Bhushan sought liberty from the court to file an election petition after polling is over.

“We have done what we could have done. We find no grounds to entertain this petition,”

Yadav, who was dismissed in 2017 after he posted a video online complaining about the food served to troops, was fielded by the Samajwadi Party as its candidate from the Varanasi seat. Prime Minister Narenda Modi is contesting from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat.

Yadav, in his plea, had termed the decision of the poll panel discriminatory and unreasonable and had said it should be set aside.

(Source: PTI)

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Supreme Court: The Court has rejected the review plea filed by twenty-one Opposition parties seeking a direction to increase VVPAT verification from five to at least 50% of EVMs during counting of votes in the general elections 2019.

The Court was hearing the plea of 21 opposition leaders, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, seeking that VVPAT slips of at least 50 per cent of voting machines in each assembly constituency be checked randomly in the Lok Sabha elections. The leaders from six national and 15 regional parties, claiming to represent 70-75 per cent of the population, have also sought the setting aside of the Election Commission of India (EC) guideline on random verification of one assembly seat.

(More details awaited)

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Three election petitions were filed before the bench of Siddhartha Varma, J. under Section 12-C of the U.P. Panchayati Raj Act, 1947 against the election process with regard to the election of a Pradhan of Gram Panchayat where Manju, respondent was declared elected.

Petitioner prayed for re-counting of the votes. The dispute before the Court was that all the three petitions prayer was different and one of the petitioners wanted to produce evidence for another petition for a prayer he had not asked for. The petitioner pleaded that before any order for recounting was passed, it had to be deciphered as to who were the voters who were dead and their names had entered in the voters’ list. Petitioner again filed an application that the decision on the application filed by petitioner had to precede the adjudication of an application for recounting. Application for recounting was allowed and was challenged in this Court where writ petition was allowed and order was quashed. Respondent contended that the petitioner ought to limit herself with the issues mentioned in her election petition and cannot be allowed to lead evidence for another election petition though three election petition were being dealt with together. Thus, she could not have asked for recounting of votes. Petitioner had submitted that her application should be decided prior to recounting thus it suggests that she cannot lead evidence for recounting of votes.

High Court was of the view that the Tribunal correctly passed the order rejecting the application of the petitioner. The issues presented before the Court were the same issues mentioned in the election petitions therefore, the order of deciding the issues did not matter. Petitioner from the beginning was wanting her application to be decided thus ought not to have an interest in the application of another applicant praying for recounting. Therefore, on finding no merits in the case this petition was dismissed. [Sangeeta v. Upziladhikari, 2019 SCC OnLine All 1786, Order dated 01-02-2019]

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Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Sanjiv Khanna and Deepak Gupta, JJ has has asked 21 opposition parties to file response over the Election Commission’s affidavit in a case where the Parties sought direction that 50 per cent EVM results should be matched and cross-checked with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) before the declaration of results in the upcoming General Elections. The bench directed the 21 opposition parties (petitioners) to file a rejoinder to the affidavit of the poll panel before April 8.

On Friday, the Election Commission (EC) of India, in an affidavit, told the court that there is no need to increase VVPAT count to match it with EVM. It had said that the existing system is full-proof and more VVPAT  count means 6 days delay in the counting of votes in Lok Sabha election. The court had directed EC to file an affidavit on why physical verification of VVPATs should not be extended to more than one polling station per Assembly segment.

The court is hearing a plea filed by 21 opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, seeking a random count of VVPAT slips of at least 50 per cent EVMs in each Assembly constituency before the declaration of Lok Sabha election results. The petition has challenged the decision of the Commission to check VVPATs of only one randomly selected booth of a constituency. The petitioners have said that this will account only for 0.44 per cent of the votes polled.

(Source: ANI)

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Supreme Court: The Court has ssued a notice to the Election Commission regarding alleged non-implementation of the top court’s past order of publishing the criminal record of candidates in newspapers. The bench Rohinton Fali Nariman and Vineet Saran, JJ sought the Election Commission’s response within a week.

The contempt petition is filed by lawyer and BJP leader, Ashwini Upadhyay. Upadhyay, in his petition, claimed that the EC had allegedly failed to enforce the Court’s earlier order of September 25, 2018 that said that it is mandatory for candidates to publish in newspapers
about the pending criminal cases against them during their filing of nomination paper during the election.

Upadhyay, in his petition, claimed that the ECI had allegedly failed to ensure the disclosure of criminal antecedents and the Central government has not made a law to debar criminals from contesting the elections.

Seven phase elections in the country will begin on April 11 and conclude on May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.

(Source: ANI)


Also read:

Candidates with criminal antecedents| Parliament has exclusive jurisdiction to lay down disqualification for membership; Court cannot legislate: SC

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Supreme Court: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has told the bench of S A Bobde and S A Nazeer, JJ that it will hold by-elections on vacant assembly seats of Tiruparankundram, Ottapidaram and Aravakurichi in Tamil Nadu within a reasonable time. The Court was hearing a plea filed by the DMK seeking a direction to the poll panel for holding the by-elections on these three vacant assembly seats.

The bench, while taking on record the submissions of the ECI’s counsel, disposed of the petition and observed that the court cannot determine the timing of elections and it was for the poll panel to decide.

The counsel appearing for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had earlier told the apex court that there are 21 vacant assembly seats in Tamil Nadu but the poll panel has notified by-polls for only 18 seats. He had said that by-polls on 18 vacant seats are scheduled to be held on April 18 along with the Lok Sabha polls in the state. It was argued that ECI should be asked to hold the by-elections on the remaining three assembly seats along with the general elections.

On March 15, the Court had asked the ECI to respond to the DMK’s plea seeking by-polls for Tiruparankundram, Ottapidaram and Aravakurichi assembly constituencies. The poll panel had earlier told the court that the by-polls for three assembly seats were not announced as some election petitions were pending in the Madras High Court.

(Source: PTI)

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Supreme Court: Refusing to acknowledge the claim of the TTV Dhinakaran-led faction over ‘pressure cooker’ as common election symbol, the Court has directed the Election Commission (EC) to consider granting common free election symbol to the candidates of the Dhinakaran-led faction for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and assembly by-elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The Court that the said direction was passed to ensure level-playing field and free and fair elections.

The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ also made it clear that its order asking the EC to consider granting common election symbol would not amount to granting recognition to his faction as a political group and its candidates would be treated as Independents for all practical purposes. It said that it was the duty and the rights of the Election Commission only to consider granting registration to Dhinakaran’s outfit as a political party and it will be done in due course by the poll panel.

(Source: PTI)

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The writ petition was filed before a Single Judge Bench comprising of Salil Kumar Rai, J., against judgment and order passed by Deputy District Magistrate where an Election Petition filed by petitioner was dismissed.

Facts of the case were that one of the respondents was the elected Gram Pradhan of the village, against whose election, petitioner filed an Election Petition. In the election petition, the remedy sought by petitioner was the recounting of votes after which the election of respondent was to be set aside and petitioner was to be declared elected. The Deputy District Magistrate dismissed the Election Petition stating that petitioner failed to establish her case.

Petitioner contended that she received 233 votes and the Returning Officer had shown petitioner to have received only 184 votes declaring rest 49 votes polled in favour of the petitioner as invalid. Election petition stated that it was due to the above invalidation of votes respondent won the election with 195 votes.

High Court was of the view that judgment and order passed by the Magistrate gave reasons for dismissal of the petition and all the evidence submitted by petitioner was considered by Magistrate. Therefore, Court dismissed this writ for lack of merit. [Sutura Devi v. State of U.P.,2018 SCC OnLine All 1564, order dated 27-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Manipur High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of KH. Nobin Singh, J., dismissed an application filed for dismissal of Election Petition on the ground that it violates Section 100 of Representation of People Act, 1951 where grounds for declaration of election as void are given.

The applicant filed this application for dismissal of election petition filed by the respondent raising flaws in it. In the petition, the respondent contended that the applicant in his affidavit filed along with nomination paper had not given complete information. The applicant did not mention anything about the FIR filed against him. He also left many columns blank i.e. incomplete form and the Returning Officer could not have accepted the nomination. Whereas the applicant defended himself by stating that in one of the cases filed against him he had already been discharged. The allegation which the respondent had accused of were misconceived and unfounded which require strict proof. It was also submitted that RO of 4-Kshetrigao Assembly Constituency had accepted all nomination papers in the presence of respondent during which the respondent made no objection but now that he was not elected the same process had been put into scrutiny. The applicant opposed election petition on the ground that it does not contain material facts as required under Section 83(1)(a).

The High Court was of the view that Section 83(1)(a) which states that an election petition should contain material facts on which petitioner relies had been substantially complied with and election petition cannot be stopped at this stage. Therefore, the application was devoid of merit and was dismissed. [Nahakpam Indrajit Singh v. Md. Amin Shah,2018 SCC OnLine Mani 115, order dated 17-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and Dr D.Y. Chandrachud, J. held that the election petition filed after the period of 30 days as mandated under Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 is barred by limitation.

The appellant was declared a winner in the elections for the post of Ward Councilor. The respondent filed an election petition under Section 176 of the Act challenging the said election. Thereafter, the appellant filed an application under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC for rejection of the petition on the ground that the said petition was not presented in person as required by Section 176. The respondent withdrew the petition. Subsequently, the respondent filed second election petition. Again, the appellant filed an application for rejection, this time on the ground that the petition was filed after the period of 30 days from the date of the election as provided under the said section, thus it was barred by limitation. The respondent filed an application under Section 5 read with Section 14 of the Limitation Act, submitting that the time spent between filing of the first petition and its withdrawal may be excluded while calculating the period of limitation. The trial court admitted the appellant’s application under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC. The appeal preferred by the respondent thereagainst was allowed by a District Judge. The appellant challenged the order of the  District Judge before the High Court which was dismissed vide order impugned. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed the present appeal.

The Supreme Court perused Section 176 and also referred to Hukum Dev Narain Yadav v. Lalit Narain Mishra, (1974) 2 SCC 133; Charan Lal Sahu v. Nandkishore Bhatt, (1973) 2 SCC 530 and Lachhman Das Arora v. Ganeshi Lal, (1999) 8 SCC 532. It was observed that the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act is a complete code for the presentation of election petitions. The statute mandates that election petition must be filed within a period of 30 days from the date of declaration of election results. The period cannot be extended. The provision of Section 14 of the Limitation Act stands excluded. The legislature having made a specific provision, any election petition which fails to comply with the same is liable to be rejected. Observing that the High Court failed to notice the binding judgments of the Supreme Court, the Court set aside the order impugned. It was held that the election petition filed by the respondent shall be dismissed. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed. [Suman Devi v. Manisha Devi,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1047, dated 21-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench of RK Agarwal and AM Sapre, JJ refused to extend the last date for the filing of nominations for panchayat polls in West Bengal, saying it cannot interfere with the election process. The Court, however, granted liberty to the candidates to approach the West Bengal State Election Commission for appropriate relief.

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had, in the petition, sought the following directions:

  • issue of nomination forms to the it’s candidates so as to enable them to file their nomination in the ensuing upcoming panchayat elections
  • take immediate steps to make arrangements for submission of nomination papers through email and to provide police protection to it’s candidates so as to enable them to collect and deposit the nomination forms for the purpose of contesting the panchayat elections already notified
  • call for Central Para-Military Forces to maintain the law and order during the conduct of the panchayat elections in the State of West Bengal.

Relying upon the newspaper reports which appeared in the Times of India, Kolkata edition dated 03.04.2018 and 04.04.2018, the Statesmen, Kolkata edition dated 04.04.2018 and the Telegraph e-paper preview, BJP had contended that it’s candidates who want to contest election for the panchayat which is to be held in the State of West Bengal are not allowed to collect the nominations forms and to submit the same on account of violent resistance being put by the supporters of the ruling party.

The Court, however, noticed that the West Bengal Panchayat Elections Act, 2003 has empowered the State Election Commissioner to pass appropriate orders in relation to any grievance, when made by any political party, or/and their individual candidate including any independent candidate with regard to any matter relating to and arising out of the election and election process and

“It is, therefore, essentially for the State Election Commissioner to consider the grievance once made by any party or/and candidate as the case may be and pass appropriate order/s keeping in view the nature of grievance made and relevant factors concerning the election and its process.”

The Court, hence, disposed of the petition by granting liberty to all political parties, their candidates, including any independent candidate/s proposing to contest the election in question, to approach the State Election Commissioner with their any individual or/and collective grievance. The Court said that it hoped thatin order to ensure fair and free election to the panchayats, the State Election Commission will take appropriate steps to remove the apprehensions of the petitioner and/or intending candidates and they may not be deprived of their chance to contest the panchayat elections.

The West Bengal panchayat polls that are scheduled to be held on May 1, 3, and 5. According to the notification, the last date for filing of nominations is April 9 and the last date of scrutiny of the nominations is April 11. [Bhartiya Janata Party, West Bengal v. State of West Bengal,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 337, decided 09.04.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Madras: In its recent judgment, a Single Bench of M. Venugopal, J. upheld the election of DMK working President M.K. Stalin from the Kolathur assembly constituency during the State Assembly Election held on April 13, 2011.

The petition sought to declare the election of DMK candidate as null and void on account of misuse of official machinery, declaration of false expenditure account and illegal distribution of money among the voters, violating the directives of the Election Commission of India. In his submission, the petitioner contended that the police force, the ground level polling staff as well as the Returning Officer were reluctant in taking any action against the respondent due to his political strength, consequent to the declaration of being duly elected from the constituency. The respondent denied all charges levied on him and submitted that the sources of the petitioner’s claims were unfounded, lacked merit or carried no evidentiary value. Even if it was to be believed that the respondent’s party men did engage in any such illegal activity as claimed by the petitioner, the respondent contends that it was done without his knowledge and consent and he could not even be held vicariously liable.

The Court observed that a consent cannot be inferred from mere knowledge alone in law and must be proved by strong evidence. The lack of such principles would be a “categorical averment”. Further, it held the evidence extended by the petitioner to prove their allegation of money distribution by the Stalin’s party in a novel way of community feedings, courier service, currency in the newspaper, arathi plate contributions and slips to the voters to purchase consumer items, were unsatisfactory, unconvincing and unacceptable. It dismissed the petition on account of the allegations of corrupt practice being vague and based on mere assumption, suspicion and simmering doubt.

The Court took this litigation as an opportunity to point out that the Rules of Madras High Court on Election Petition should include conclusion of trial of every election petition within six months of institution and develop the procedure into a more effective and efficacious one. [Saidai Sa. Duraisamy v. Stalin M.K., 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 1832, order pronounced on 01.06.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Addressing the present petition highlighting the apprehensions that are being raised upon the functioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Verifiable Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT) Machines, especially in the light of the recently concluded Legislative Assembly Elections in five States, the Division Bench of Rajiv Sharma and Sharad Kumar Sharma, JJ., observed that, Article 324 of the Constitution has a wide ambit and gives the Election Commission powers to cope up with any unprovided scenarios vis-à-vis smooth conduction of elections. Thus the Election Commission can use its residuary power under Article 324 to fill the vacuum and to “meet unforeseen contingencies”. However the Court noted that off late various political parties have started a systematic campaign to tarnish the image of the Commission by casting doubts upon the EVMs. To this, the Court held that, it cannot allow the national parties to tarnish the image of a Constitutional body such as the Election Commission and that freedom of speech and expression doesn’t permit to level unsubstantiated charges against the constitutional bodies.

The petitioner, a politician had expressed certain reservations regarding the use of EVMs. Counsel for the petitioner Arvind Vashisth contended that the role of Election Commission gets over the moment election results are declared, therefore the proposed “EVM Hackathon” on 03.06.2017 as it has been notified in the Commission’s press release dated 20.05.2017, will affect the outcome of the pending election petitions in this Court and other High Courts. The respondent argued that the EVM is not hackable and it cannot be physically tampered during transportation or at its manufacturing stage and the proposed ‘hackathon’ has been undertaken by the Commission to allay the apprehensions of the political parties.

The Court held that broad meaning should be given to Article 324 and the Court also must “promote”, “nurture” and “maintain” independence of constitutional bodies and protect them from criticism. It further stated that use of EVM has been ordered by the Commission while exercising the power under Article 324. The Court lastly held that the faith of people must be safeguarded on fair and free election which is a basic feature of the Constitution, therefore in public interest the Court restrained all political parties, NGO’s and individuals from criticizing the use of EVM, till any decision is reached over the pending election petitions and the decision to hold the ‘hackathon’ challenge was left on the discretion of Election Commission with a caveat that the results of the challenge does not in any way affect the decision in the pending petitions. [Ramesh Pandey v. Election Commission of India, 2017 SCC OnLine Utt 676, decided on 02.06.2017]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the controversy relating to the Arunachal Pradesh elections where the illegal withdrawal of the nomination of Atum Welly resulted into unopposed election of Kameng Dolo, the Court upheld the decision of the Gauhati High Court wherein the said election was held to be void under Section 100(1)(d)(iv) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Noticing that there were only two candidates in the fray, one from the Indian National Congress and the other from the Bhartiya Janata Party and that the election petitioner while campaigning came to know that his nomination papers were withdrawn that were alleged to be withdrawn by Sanjeev Tana who was neither the candidate himself nor the proposer nor the election agent of the candidate and, therefore, the High Court held that he was not authorized to seek withdrawal of the candidature. It was noticed that though it is a settled law that election of a candidate who has won at an election should not be lightly interfered with but it has also to be borne in mind that one of the essentials of election law is to safeguard the purity of the election process and to see that people do not get elected by flagrant breaches of that law or by corrupt practices.

Refusing to interfere with the decision of the High Court, the bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ said that Section 37 of the Act reflects that the legislature has provided number of safeguards before exercising the authority for acceptance of withdrawal of a candidate. The intention of the Parliament is that due care and caution has to be taken in letter and spirit so that no confusion is created. The issue of alert and careful exercise gains more significance when there are two candidates because if one’s withdrawal is allowed in complete violation of the statutory provision, the other candidate gets automatically declared elected, for there is no election, no contest. When in transgression of the statutory provision, a candidate’s candidature is allowed to be withdrawn, it will tantamount to sacrilege of democracy.

The Court noticed that, in the instant case, there was no contest at all and there can be no manner of doubt that there was flagrant breach of Section 37 of the Act leading to unopposed election of the appellant. Hence, the election had been materially affected and accordingly the election result dated 15.03.2014 is void under Section 100(1)(d)(iv) of the Act. [Kameng Dolo v. Atum Welly, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 556, decided on 09.05.2017]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

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]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Holding the election of Rajendra Meshram to be valid, the Court said that the trial of an election petition, as per Section 87 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 has to be in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. When no pleadings that the election of the returned candidate was void on grounds mentioned in Section 100(1)(a) were made and no issue on this score was struck and no opportunity to the returned candidate to adduce relevant evidence was afforded, the Madhya Pradesh High Court could not have found that the election of the returned candidate was void under Section 100(1)(a) of the 1951 Act.

Explaining the law on disqualification of a member as per Section 100(1)(a), the Court said that under Section 100(1)(a) the election of the returned candidate is liable to be declared void if, inter alia, he was not qualified for membership of Parliament or the State Legislature as may be. Section 5 of the 1951 Act deals with qualifications for membership of a Legislative Assembly of a State which, inter alia, requires a candidate to be an elector of any Assembly constituency of the State. To declare an election void under Section 100(1)(a), it must, therefore, be established that the returned candidate is not a voter of any assembly constituency of the State.

In the present case, no objection to the effect that the returned candidate was not qualified to contest the election as he was not a voter of any assembly Constituency of the State was raised in the objection filed. Neither was any objection taken to the effect that the returned candidate was not eligible to participate in the election as he had not furnished the electoral roll of the Constituency in which he was a voter or a certified copy thereof.

The Bench of Ranjan Gogoi and P.C. Pant, JJ noticed that the entire case of the election petitioner, who was elected in Deosar Constituency, was that the appellant-returned candidate was a voter of another constituency i.e. Singrauli constituency but he had not enclosed or produced the electoral roll of that constituency or a certified copy thereof thereby making him ineligible to contest the election.  In view of the state of the pleadings as noticed above; the issues framed and the evidence led by the parties, the bench refused to agree with the High Court that the respondent-election petitioner had made out a case for declaration that the result of the election in favour of the returned candidate was void under Section 100(1)(a) of the 1951 Act. [Rajendra Kumar Meshram v. Vanshmani Prasad Verma, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1074 , decided on 03.10.2016]