Raghvendra S. Chauhan, J.
1. The petitioner has challenged the legality of the order dated 7-9-2016, passed by the learned Senior Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate First Class, Nanjangud, whereby the learned Senior Civil Judge has dismissed the election petition inter alia on the ground that the petitioner did not implead all the contesting candidates as party-respondents in the said election petition. Therefore, the mandatory provision under Section 15(2) of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act, 1993 ('the Act' for short) has not been complied with.
2. Briefly the facts of the case are that the election to the Mallupura Grama Panchayat was held on 29-5-2015. The petitioner had contested the said election under the reserved category of Backward Class B (General). Respondents 1 to 4 had also contested the said election for the said constituency under the reserved category mentioned above. Respondent 1, Mr. M.R. Guruswamy, was declared as having won the election. For, he had secured 290 votes, whereas, the petitioner has secured merely 161 votes. The election results were declared on 5-6-2015. Subsequently, the petitioner discovered that the respondent 1 had not disclosed all the relevant information, especially the information with regard to a criminal case pending against him. Therefore, respondent 1 had filed a false declaration, wherein he claimed that no criminal case was pending against him. Hence, the petitioner filed an election petition, namely, Election Petition No. 3 of 2015 before the learned Civil Judge. Subsequently, on 8-7-2016, the election petition was transferred from the Court of learned Civil Judge and JMFC, Nanjangud, to the Court of Senior Civil Judge, Nanjangud, and the election petition was renumbered as Election Petition No. 1 of 2016. During the course of the trial, the respondent 1 filed an application, namely I.A. No. 1 of 2016, wherein the respondent 1 sought the dismissal of the election petition inter alia on the ground that the petitioner had failed to include all the contesting candidates as party-respondents. Therefore, the mandatory requirement of Section 15(2) of the Act had not been complied with. After hearing both the parties, by the impugned order, the learned Senior Civil Judge has dismissed the election petition. Hence, this petition before this Court.
3. Relying on the case of Manjula v. Smt. Sangamma and Others Writ Petition No. 84101 of 2012, dated 18-1-2013, the learned Counsel for the petitioner has vehemently contended that the requirement of Section 15(2) of the Act is not that all the candidates who contested the election should be added as party-respondents. In case, petitioner had added only those persons who had contested for the specific constituency, and for the reserved category, then the requirement of Section 15(2) of the Act is fulfilled. Therefore, the learned Judge is not justified in rejecting the petitioner's election petition.
4. Heard the learned Counsel for the petitioner and perused the impugned order.
Section 15(2) of the Act is as under:
"15. (2) A petitioner shall join as respondent to his petition.-
(a) where the petitioner, in addition to claiming a declaration that the election of all or of any of the returned candidates is void, claims a further declaration that he himself or any other candidate has been duly elected, all the contesting candidates other than the petitioner, and where no such further I declaration is claimed, all the returned candidates; and
(b) any other candidate against whom allegation of any corrupt practise are made in the petition."
A bare perusal of the said provision clearly reveals that the provision can be divided into two parts: firstly, where in addition to claiming a declaration that the election of all or of any of the returned candidates is void, a further declaration is sought by the petitioner that he himself or she herself or any other candidate should be declared as duly elected, then Section 15(2) of the Act requires that all the contesting candidates, other than the petitioner himself or herself, should be joined as party-respondents in the election petition. According to the second part, in case the petitioner does not seek such further declaration, then all the returned candidates need to be joined as party-respondents.
5. In the present case, the petitioner has not merely sought a declaration of the election of respondent 1 as void, but has further sought the declaration that she should be declared as being duly elected. Thus, the present case falls within the first part of Section 15(2) of the Act. Hence, the petitioner was legally required to array all the contesting candidates as party-respondents. But, the petitioner had failed to do so. The petitioner in fact has only added four persons as respondents although there were ten persons who had fought the election. Hence, the petitioner has failed to adhere to the mandatory condition of Section 15(2) of the Act.
6. In the case of Khadarsab v. Munasab and Others, 1998(1) Kar. L.J. 269, this Court was seized with the issues whether the prayer for impleading the necessary party beyond a period of thirty days could be extended by the Civil Court or not? and whether the non-joining of the necessary party would be fatal to the election petition or not? This Court clearly opined that the Civil Court does not have the power to extend the period of limitation of thirty days. This Court also opined that the non-joining of necessary party as required under Section 15(2) of the Act would be fatal to the maintainability of the election petition.
7. In the case of Manjula (supra), a learned Co-ordinate Bench of this Court has quoted Section 15(2) of the Act. However, the learned Co-ordinate Bench has observed that "petitioner has not sought for a declaration that the election of all or any other returned candidates, is illegal. Therefore, making all the returned candidates or any other returned candidate as party is unnecessary". With due respect, this observation is clearly contrary to the plain and grammatical meaning of Section 15(2) of the Act. As mentioned above, Section 15(2) of the Act makes it imperative that, in case a candidate were to seek a further declaration that he or she be declared to be elected, in such a situation, the petitioner is required to implead all the contesting candidates as party-respondents. Since the observation made by the learned Co-ordinate Bench is contrary to the mandatory requirement of Section 15(2) of the Act, this Court is not bound by the decision rendered in the case of Manjula (supra).
8. Since in the present case the petitioner has not impleaded all the contesting candidates as party-respondents, since the petitioner has not fulfilled the mandatory requirement of Section 15(2) of the Act, therefore the learned Judge was justified in dismissing the election petition.
For the reasons stated above, this Court does not find any merit in the present petition. It is, hereby, dismissed.