Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Giving a 4:3 verdict, the 7-Judge Bench held that an appeal in the name of religion, race, caste, community or language is impermissible under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and would constitute a corrupt practice sufficient to annul the election in which such an appeal was made regardless whether the appeal was in the name of the candidate’s religion or the religion of the election agent or that of the opponent or that of the voter’s.

In the matter where the interpretation of the word ‘his’ under Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, T.S. Thakur, CJ and Madan B. Lokur, L.Nageswar Rao and S.A. Bobde, JJ, giving the majority view, said that the sum total of Section 123 (3) even after amendment is that religion, race, caste, community or language would not be allowed to play any role in the electoral process and should an appeal be made on any of those considerations, the same would constitute a corrupt practice. It was held that for maintaining the purity of the electoral process and not vitiating it, sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 must be given a broad and purposive interpretation thereby bringing within the sweep of a corrupt practice any appeal made to an elector by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent to vote or refrain from voting for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate on the ground of the religion, race, caste, community or language of (i) any candidate or (ii) his agent or (iii) any other person making the appeal with the consent of the candidate or (iv) the elector.

Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Adarsh K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, JJ on the other hand were of the opinion that the ‘his’ in Section 123(3) of RP Act does not refer to the religion, race, caste, community or language of the voter. ‘His’ is to be read as referring to the religion, race, caste, community or language of the candidate in whose favour a vote is sought or that of another candidate against whom there is an appeal to refrain from voting. It was said that the actual unfolding of democracy and the working of a democratic constitution may suffer from imperfections but these imperfections cannot be attended to by an exercise of judicial redrafting of a legislative provision. [Abhiram Singh v. C.D. Commachen, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 9, decided on 02.01.2017]

 

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]