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Bhartiya Janata Party and that the election petitioner while campaigning came to know that his nomination papers were withdrawn that were alleged to be withdrawn by Sanjeev Tana who was neither the candidate himself nor the proposer nor the election agent of the candidate and, therefore, the High Court held that he was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 When in transgression of the statutory provision, a candidate’s candidature is allowed to be withdrawn, it will tantamount to sacrilege of democracy.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]