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Sheikh Mohamed Arshad Faizulla Vs. Devidas Vithal Salsingikar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElection
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Civil Appln. No. 1587 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1976Bom281
ActsBombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 - Sections 33(1); Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantSheikh Mohamed Arshad Faizulla
RespondentDevidas Vithal Salsingikar and ors.
Appellant AdvocateK.K. Singhvi, ;A.A. Sayed and ;M.M. Sayed, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateV.R. Karve and ;M.N. Kothari, Advs.
Excerpt:
a) the case dealt with the interpretation of words 'or for any other clause' under section 33 (1) of the bombay municipal corporation act, 1888 - the appeal on the ground of religion was certainly calculated to interfere with free election - the court ruled that every act, whether declared the freedom and purity of elections would thus go to vitiate any election and was, therefore, covered by the residuary clause.;b) the court ruled that in order to set aside an election petition on the ground falling under the residuary clause a mere proof of the alleged act was not sufficient - since the error of law was apparent on face of record, the high court could interfere under article 226 of the constitution of india. - section 3: [s.b. mhase, d.s. bhosale & a.s. oka, jj] offences of atrocities .....sapre, j.1. this petition under arts. 226 and 227 of the constitution of india is directed against an order made by the 10th respondent, the additional chief judge, court of small causes, bombay, on july 16, 1975 in election petition no. m/261 of 1973. the election petition was preferred by the 1st respondent devidas vithal salsingikar challenging the election of the petitioner dr. sheikh mohamed arshad faizulla at a municipal election for ward no. 96, squatters colony, jogeshwari, bombay, held on march 9, 1973 at that election, the petitioner secured the highest number of votes, namely, 4,705, whereas the 1st respondent secured the next highest number of votes, namely, 4,353. the additional chief judge by the impugned order set aside the election of the petitioner and declared the 1st.....
Judgment:

Sapre, J.

1. This petition under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India is directed against an order made by the 10th respondent, the Additional Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes, Bombay, on July 16, 1975 in Election Petition No. M/261 of 1973. The election petition was preferred by the 1st respondent Devidas Vithal Salsingikar challenging the election of the petitioner Dr. Sheikh Mohamed Arshad Faizulla at a municipal election for Ward No. 96, Squatters Colony, Jogeshwari, Bombay, held on March 9, 1973 AT that election, the petitioner secured the highest number of votes, namely, 4,705, whereas the 1st respondent secured the next highest number of votes, namely, 4,353. The Additional Chief Judge by the impugned order set aside the election of the petitioner and declared the 1st respondent to have been duly elected at the said election.

2. Respondents 2 to 7 are the other candidates who had contested the election. Respondent No. 8 is the Municipal Commissioner for Greater Bombay, Respondent No. is the Municipal Corporation of Greeters Bombay. The Petitioner had contested the election as an official candidate of the Muslim League. The 1st respondent had contested it as an official candidate of the Shiv Sena.

3. There does not appear to be any dispute that the total population of the constituency in question was 48,582 of whom only 20 per cent were non-Hindus. The strength of voters from the constituency was 23,40. The main challenge to the election of the petition by the 1st respondent in his petition was that prior to the election on March 9, 1973, several meetings were held in the constituency on 2nd, 3rd 4th, 5th and 6th March 1973 and those meetings were addressed by Shri Banatwala. the President of the Muslim League, and others. The petitioner was present at most of those meetings. At those meetings, the leaders of the Muslim League, with the connivance of the petitioner, made speeches which were highly communal and anti-national and had the effect of promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on the ground of religion. Appeals were also made to the voters in those meetings to vote for the petitioner in the name of religion. It was on account of this king of propaganda at those meetings that the Muslim voters, who would not have possibly voted for the petitioner, had voted for him. The appeal to the voters on the ground of religion had consequently materially affected the result of the election. There were other allegations also, but we are not concerned with those allegations in this petition.

4. The above allegations were denied by the petitioner. On an appreciation of the evidence adduced before him, the learned Additional Chief Judge recorded a finding that the petitioner and the workers of the Muslim League party, with the consent of the petitioner, had made speeches inciting religious and anti-national feelings amongst the Muslim electorates of the constituency and they were aside to vote for the petitioner in the name of religion. The voters were accordingly not able to exercise a free vote. The election of the petitioner being thus not the result of free exercise of vote by the electorates, it was liable to be set aside. He accordingly set in aside. As the 1st respondent had secured the next highest number of votes, he declared the 1st respondent to have been elected. It is this order that is being sought to be quashed by this petition.

5. The petition filed by the 1st respondent challenging the election of the petitioner was filed under the provisions of Section 33 of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'. Under this section, such an election petition has to be made to the Chief Judge of the Small Cause Court, Bombay. It can be made on three grounds; (1) if the qualification of any person declared to be elected for being a councillor is disputed, or (2) if the validity of any election is questioned, whether by reason of the improper rejection by the Commissioner of a nomination or of the improper reception of refusal of a vote, or for any other cause, or (3) if the validity of the election of a person is questioned on the ground that he has committed a corrupt practice within the meaning of Section 28F.

6. The allegations made in the present case do not amount to a corrupt practice under Section 28F of the Act. The learned Additional Chief Judge, However, has held that it will fall under the residually clause 'for any other cause' mentioned in ground No. 2 above. For this view, he relied upon the judgment of a learned Single Judge of this Court (Deshpande, J.) in Special Civil Appln. No. 1318 of 1974, decided on 19/ 20-8-1974 (Bom).

7. Mr. Singhvi for the petitioner has made the following five submission before us:---

(1) The corrupt practice alleged in this case does not fall within the ambit of Section 33 of the Act and cannot be included in the residuary clause 'for any other cause'. The view expressed to the contrary by the learned single Judge of this Court does not lay down the correct law and it should be overruled.

(2) There is no evidence to support the allegations of corrupt practice made against the petitioner and hence the finding of the learned Additional Chief Judge that the corrupt practice alleged has been proved is perverse.

(3) In holding that the alleged corrupt practice has been proved, the learned Additional Chief Judge had not applied the test of 'proof beyond a reasonable doubt', which is required to be applied to prove corrupt practice. On this ground also the finding that the corrupt practice had been proved is an error of law apparent on the face of the record.

(4) Assuming that the finding of the learned Additional Chief Judge is correct that the petitioner had indulged in the corrupt practice alleged against him, the alone is not sufficient to set aside the election, because it had to be further proved that the result of the election had been materially affected as a result of the petitioner indulging in the corrupt practice and this had not been proved.

(5) The declaration given by the learned Additional Chief Judge in favour of the 1st respondent that he will be deemed to be elected is, at any rate, not sustainable.

8. I propose to deal with the 2nd and 3rd submissions before I go to the 1st submission because, in my view, these submissions can be disposed of without resorting to any long discussion. As the submission was that there was no evidence at all on which the finding of fact of the learned Additional Chief Judge could be based that the petitioner had indulged in corrupt practice, we asked Mr. Singhvi to take us through the evidence. It is sufficient for the purposes of the submission to refer only to the evidence of Hidayatulla Khan Rahim Khan, who was examined as witness NO. 4 by the 1st respondents the witness was a voter in the constituency in the question in the last municipal election held on March 9, 1973. It is his evidence that he had voted for the Muslim League candidate, meaning thereby the present petitioner. He had stated that prior to the election, he had attended one of the meetings called by the Muslim League. At the meeting, speeches were delivered by the petitioner and others in which amongst other things the speakers said that Islam was n danger and all the Muslims should unite and vote for the Muslim League candidate to further the cause of Islam. He has also stated that had he not attended the meeting he would Ave voted for Congress candidate whether he was a Muslim or a non-Muslim, because that according to him was the right thing to do according to his own conscience. This evidence has been accepted by the learned Additional Chief Judge for proof of the corrupt practise alleged to have been nudged in by the petitioner. It was for the learned Additional Chief Judge to consider the reliability and/or sufficiency of the evidence, in order to come to a finding of fact, whether the petitioner had indulged in the corrupt practice which was alleged against him. The question, whether the fact had been established beyond a reasonable doubt, was also a question of appreciation of evidence and dependent on the question whether the evidence was also a question was sufficient and reliable to come to a conclusion that the corrupt practice alleged against the petitioner had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt by that evidence. Aim therefore, of the view that the nod and the rd submissions are without any force.

9. Turning to the 1st submission Section 33 (1) of the Act reads as under:--

'33. (I) If the qualification of any person declared to be elected for being a councillor is disputed or if the validity of any election is questioned. whether by reason of the improper rejection by the Commissioner of a nomination or of the improper reception or refusal of a vote or for any other cause e of if the validity of the election of a person is questioned on the ground that he has committed a corrupt practice within the meaning of Section 28F. -----------------------------'

As I have stated, there are three grounds on which the election of a person declared to be elected can be challenged by filling a petition. The first is if the qualification of the person declared to be elected for being a councillor is dispute. The second is if the validity of the election is questioned, whether by reason of the improper rejection by the Commissioner of a nomination or of the improper reception or refusal of avocet of for any other cause. The third is if the validity of the election of a person is questioned on the ground that he has committed, a corrupt practice within the meaning of Section 28F. In the present case, the substance of the corrupt practice alleged against the petitioner is that he had appealed to the Muslim voters of his constituency to vote for HM on the ground of religion. This has not been stated to be a corrupt practice under section 28F of the Act. We are, therefore, not required to consider the thread ground in the present case. The present case also does not relate to the first ground. The whole question is whether it is covered by the second ground. It is clear that it will fall under the second ground only if it can be included in the residuary clause 'for any other cast'.

10. The question, whether an appeal to voters made in the name of religion, race, caste, language or community by the elected candidate or, with his consent, by others in the course of the election comparing can fall with in the residuary clause 'for any other cause' on which the validity of the election can be questioned, arose for consideration before the learned Single Judge of this Court in Special Civil Appln No. 1318 of 1974, decided on 19/20-8-1974 (Bom). It was argued before the learned Single Judge that the words 'for any other cause' should be interpreted on the principle of ejusdem generous. The second ground on which the validity of an election can be questioned is if there is an improper rejection of a nomination by the Commissioner or an improper reception or refusal or vote. 'Any other cause' should thus be a cause smaller to the causes mentioned earlier, that is a cause which arises before or during an election for which the candidate is not himself responsible. It cannot, therefore, include a ground of corrupt practice indulged in by the candidate. It was argued in the alternative, that a specific ground, being ground No. 3, has been proved in respect of a corrupt practice indulged in by the candidate. But the ground of appeal to votes in et course of the election campaign made in the same of religion, etc. has not been mentioned as a corrupt practice in Section 28F of the Act and therefore, is not covered by the third ground, when the third ground specifically provided what corrupt practice can be taken into account of for invalidating an election, any other corrupt practice, which is not include in Section 28F of the Act, cannot fall under the residuary clause ' for any other cause'.

11. These arguments were rejected by the learned Single Judge and he held that a comparing involving appeal on the ground of religion falls under the residency clause. The main reason which he have for his view were these. Free election is the essence of the scheme udder Section 33 of the Act. Free election implies, inter alia, right to form an opinion as to whom to vote according to the dictates of one's judgment in disregard of extraneous influence. The residuary clause admitted of no limitation except that the 'cause' should have bearing on the validity of an election. Every 'cause' affecting the freedom of election and the purity thereof would be with in the sweep of the clause. Every act, whether declared by any law as corrupt or not, affecting the freedom and purity of election would go to vitiate any election and is covered by the residuary clause. But while holding so, the learned Judge set down certain limitations, when a corrupt practice falls under the residuary clause. Those limitations were although a campaign involving appeal on the ground of religion falls under the residuary clause, the proof that there was such an appeal is not in itself sufficient to invalidate the election. It had to be further proved that such an appeal, in fact, had the effect of interfering with the freedom to vote and the purity of election as a whaled. It was also necessary to establish what exactly was the extent of the effect of that appeal and that t was such as to invalidate the entire election.

12. During the course of his argument, Mr. Singhvi tried to maintain that the words constituting the residuary clause have to be interpreted on the ruled of ejusdem generous. It may be noted that the third ground mentioned in Section 33 (1) of the Act, viz., of f the validity of the election oaf person is questioned on the ground that he has committed a corrupt practice within the meaning of Section 28F was inserted in Section 33 (1) by way of an amendment in 1955. Before that amendment, right from the enactment of the Act, the words 'or for an other cause' occurred at the end the second ground of which the validity of the election could be questioned. It is difficult to hold that the expression 'or for any other cause' has to be interpreted having regard to the rule of ejusdem generous. To take a smile case. It is alleged against the elected candidate that he had offered bribes to a number voters order that they should vote for him. Now it is a well accepted principle that a ground like this would invalidate any election. Such a ground before the amendment of the year 1955 could fall only under the residuary clause 'for any other cause'. It could not be said that that ground related to 'anything happening prior to or during the process of election for which the candidate was not responsible.' Even then such a ground would have fallen under the residuary clause 'for any other cause'. When the third ground about corrupt practice was added by the Amendment in the Year 1955, the purpose of the amendment was to add to and not subtract from what was already there in Section 33 (1) . If, therefore, prior to the amendment of the year 1955, a ground for which the candidate himself was responsible could be included in the residuary clause on which the challenge to the election could be Hassid, it cannot be said that the effect of the amendment of the year 1955 was to take away such a ground from the residuary clause.

13. The next submission of Mr. Singhvi was that even assuming that the residuary clause in Section 33 can take in its sweep an act attributed to the elected candidate which affects freedom and purity of election, a corrupt practice cannot fall under the residuary clause. The reason is that corrupt practice has been specifically made a ground for setting aside an election (ground No. 3). When there is a specific provision in respect of an act, it cannot fall under the general or residuary clause, Mr. Singhvi contended in the alternative that assuming that corrupt practice falls under the residuary clause, it must be restricted to those forms of corruption which are well known as acts of corruption in common parlance and not to those acts which have given a statuary deeming meaning under the various election laws as falling with in the ambit of corrupt practice. An appeal to the voters to vote in favour of a candidate in the name of religion cannot be said to be a known, much less well known, form of corruption in common parlance. It cannot, therefore fall under the residuary clause.

14. This argument misses the basic point. An appeal to the voters in the name of religion falls under the residuary clause not because it is one of the corrupt practice recognised under some election laws. In relation to those corrupt practices, the observations of the Supreme Court in Banwari DAs v. Sumer Chand, : [1974]3SCR358 , relied upon by Mr. Singhvi, will apply. In that case it was pointed out that 'an election contest in not an action at law or a suit in equity but a purely statutory proceeding unknown in common law and the Court possesses no common law powers' and further that 'although the object of the statute b which the election tribunals were created was to prevent corrupt practices, still the tribunal is a judicial and not an inquisitorial one; it is a court to hear and determine according to law, and not a commission armed with power to enquire into and suppress corruption'. The Court can not, therefore, in those cases add anything more to the corrupt practices specifically mentioned in the election law. Here the footing is different. As rightly pointed out by the learned Single Judge, the footing is that free election is the essence of the scheme under Section 33. Free election implies right to form opinion as to whom to vote according to the dictates of one's judgment in disregard of extraneous influence. Every cause affecting the freedom of election and the purity thereof would be within the sweep of the residuary clause. The appeal on the ground of religion is certainly calculated to interfere with free election. Every act, whether declared by any law as corrupt or not, affecting the freedom and purity of elections would thus go to vitiate any election and is, therefor, covered by the residuary clause.

15. It is thus not on the test that an appeal to voters to vote in the name of religion is a corrupt practice that such an act falls under the residuary clause. The test on which it so falls is that it is something which affects the freedom of election and purity thereof. It is just that it is a corrupt practice under some election laws. The legislature in its wisdom seems to have purposely made provision for any situation in future where certain impugned acts on the part of a candidate could be viewed as serious enough to set aside his election on proof of those acts. An appeal to voters to vote for a particular candidate on the ground of religion, perhaps, may not have been expected to fall under the residuary clause when the Act was first enacted in the year 1888. But the provision, in view of its general language, was expected to take into account new concepts and human relations according to which a particular set which was not expected to fall under the residuary clause when the Act was enacted could so fall at some later time, having regard to the changed situations and concepts. It cannot be denied that in the conditions in which the present elections are fought, for high or low posts alike, an appeal to voters in the name of religion does have the effect of interfering with the freedom to vote and purity of elections. Such a kind of appeal will, therefore, fall under the residuary clause in Section 33 (1) of the Act. In my opinion, the view taken by the learned Single Judge is the correct view of the law.

16. That brings me to the fourth submission of Mr. Singhvi. As has been stated, the present petitioner had secured 4,705 votes. The 1st respondent had secured 4,353 votes. The petitioner had thus secured 352 votes more than the voles secured by the 1st respondent. It was the allegation in the petition that the total population of the constituency in question was 48,582, out of which only 20 per cent were non-Hindus. The total voters from the constituency were 23,409. Although the percentage of non-Hindu voters has not been stated in the petition, assuming that the same percentage as was reflected in the population was also reflected in the voters (out of the total number of voters, namely, 23,409, only 20 per cent we non-Hindus), the figure of non-Hindu voters comes to about 4,681. These were mot all Muslims, because non-Hindus include other communities also. It has not been stated in the petition how many Muslim voter out of the total voters in the constituency were. IN the absence of the number of Muslim voters in the constituency. there can be no basis for arriving at the conclusion that the alleged corrupt practice had the effect of interfering with the freedom to vote to such an extent as to materially affect the result of the election. For example, out of 4,681 non-Hindu voters, for all ought we know, the number of Muslim voters, for all ought we know, the number of Muslim voters may be anything below 352. Even if, therefore, the appeal to those voters to vote in the name of religion had worked and it had interfered with their freedom to vote, it cannot be said that the alleged corrupt practice had materially affected the result of the election.

17. There is a basic difference between the third ground mentioned in Section 33 (1) of the Act, which was inserted n the section by way of amendment in the year 1955, and a ground falling under the residuary clause 'for any other cause.' In the case of the former, a mere proof of the corrupt practice is sufficient to hold against the validity of the election. In the case of the latter, as pointed out by the learned Single Judge, a mere proof of the alleged act is not sufficient and two further things are also required to be proved. These are that he act alleged had the effect of interfering with the freedom to vote and purity of elections as a whole and that the extent of the effect was such that it had materially affected the result of the election. In the present case, the first of these two requirements may be held to have been proved. This is for the reason that there is the evidence of the witness Hidayatulla Khan Rahim Khan (which I have already referred to) to show that the appeal to Muslim voters in the constituency to vote for the petitioner on the ground of religion had, in fact, the effect of interfering with the freedom to vote and the purity of elections. But regarding the second point, the proof is lacking. There is no evidence on which a conclusion could be based that the alleged act had the effect of interfering with the freedom to vote and the purity of the election to such an extent as to materially affect the result of the election. In fact, the learned Additional Chief Judge in his judgment has not applied his mind to this question at all and there is no discussion or a finding on this point.

18. Having held that in order to set aside an election on the ground falling under the residuary clause it is necessary for the party challenging the election to show that the act complained of had materially affected the result, a question arises whether this is a matter wholly of proof, wholly of inference or partly of proof and partly of inference. In my view, the proof required in such a case would be the same as is required under Section 100(1)(d)(ii) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. That provision is to the following effect:---

'100. (1) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) if the High Court is of opinion---

(a) ............... ................. ........................ ...................

(b) ............... ................. ........................ ...................

(c) ............... ................. ........................ ...................

(d) that the result of the election, in so far as it concerns a returned candidate, has been materially affected

(i) ............... .................. ......................... ........................

(ii) by any corrupt practice committed in the interests of the returned candidate by an agent other than his election agent, or

(iii) ............... ................... ........................ .......................

(iv) .............. ................... ......................... ....................... the High Court shall declare the election of the returned candidate to be void.'

This provision came up for consideration before the Supreme Court in S. N. Balakrishna v. Fernanadez, : [1969]3SCR603 . The proposition of law laid down in that case was that for an election to be void under Section 100(1)(d)(ii) of Representation of the People Act, 1951, the impugned act requires proof and cannot be considered on possibility. It was observed in that case that where the margin of votes is large, there is no room even for a reasonable judicial guess. The law, however, insists on proof and that remains the position even if the law casts an impossible burden on the party challenging the election to prove the impugned act.

19. In the instant case, as I have pointed out, the difference between the votes secured by the petition and the 1st respondent is 352. The number of Muslim voters in the constituency is not known. Had at least this figure been known and if the margin between the votes polled by the petitioner and the 1st respondent were small, there might have been room for a reasonable judicial guess that the result of the election had been materially affected on account of the acts alleged against the petitioner. As I have stated, the number of Muslim voters out of the total number of non-Hindu voters (4,681) could be even less than 352. In that case, even if all the Muslim voters had voted for the petitioner on account of the appeal made to them to vote for him on the ground of religion, that would not have still materially affected the result of the election. In the absence of this minimum data, namely, the number of Muslim voters in the constituency, it would just be a speculation and conjecture to hold that the result of the election had been materially affected because of the acts alleged against the petitioner.

20. Mr. for the 1st respondent urged that under Section 33 of the Act, the Chief Judge of the Court of Small Causes is a persona designate to decide the election petition filed under the provisions of the said section. What he has to hold is just an inquiry and the procedure for holding the inquiry, as provided in Section 508 of the Act, is of a summary nature as prescribed in the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act. In the course of the inquiry, he is entitled to draw inferences and the High Court acting under Article 226 of the Constitution will not be justified in interfering with the inferences drawn by him. The learned Additional Chief Judge was entitled to draw an inference that the result of the election had been materially affected as a result of the petitioner indulging in the corrupt practice alleged against him, Mr. Karve Drew our attention to certain observations of the Supreme Court in Babhutmal v. Laxmibai, : AIR1975SC1297 , and Kaushalya Devi v. Bachittar Singh, : AIR1960SC1168 .

21. It is true that in these cases the Supreme Court laid down the proposition that errors in appreciation of documentary evidence of affidavits, errors in drawing inferences or omission to draw inferences are errors which a Court sitting as a Court of appeal only can examine and correct and this cannot be done while exercising powers under Article 226 of the Constitution. But the present is not a case of that kind. As I have stated the learned Additional Chief Judge had not even applied his mad to the requirement that the alleged corrupt practice not only should have the effect of interfering with the freedom to vote and purity of elections as a whole, but the extent of the effect should be such that it had materially affected the result of the election. Even if he had applied his mad to the matter and recorded a finding that the effect of the acts complained of was of such a nature that t had materially affected the result of the election, that would have been mere conjecture of speculation and not an inference, because there was no basis for drawing such an inference. It is true that the question was not only of proof and could be partly of proof and partly of inference. But it could not be a matter entirely of drawing an inference without any basis because in that case it no longer remains an inference but enters the field of conjecture and speculation.

22. Mr. Karve next submitted that the High Court exercising its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution should not interfere with the order made by the learned Additional Chief Judge, because in his decision there was no error of law apparent on the face of the record. He had simply followed the decision of the learned Singly Judge of this Court and there could be no error of law in his decision. This submission is easily met. The law laid down by the learned Singly Judge is that when the case falls under the residuary clause 'for any other cause', not only the act complained of against the returned candidate its be proved, but it has to be further proved that the act had the effect of interfering with the freedom to vote and purity of election as a whole and that the extent of that effect was such as to materially affect the result of the election. The learned Additional Chief Judge had not taken into account the last requirement of the law stated by the learned Single Judge. He had entirely omitted to consider that requirement. There was also no material on record on which he could base his conclusion that the extent of the interference with the freedom to vote and purity of election as a whole was such as to materially affect the result of the election. There was thus an error of law apparent on the face of the record in the decision of the learned Additional Chief Judge and that entitles this Court to interface with his decision under Article 226 of the Constitution. The fourth submission of Mr. Singhvi, in my opinion, has to be accepted and on that ground the decision of the learned Additional Chief Judge is liable to be set aside.

23. In the view I taken the fourth submission made by Mr, Singhvi, his fifth submission does not survive for consideration.

24. In my view, therefore, this petition will have to be allowed, the order of the learned Additional Chief Judge will have to be quashed and set aside and the election petition filed by the 1st respondent against the petitioner will have to be dismissed.

Vimadalal, J.

25. I agree with the judgment just delivered by my brother Sapre, but would like to add a few words. Mr. Singhvi on behalf of the petitioner invited us to hold that the view taken by my brother Deshpande in his judgment dated 19th/20th August 1974 was erroneous and that we should overruled the same and hold that respondent No. 10 had committed an error of law apparent on the face of the record in following that decision. If the matter was res integera, and if it was necessary for us to decide this question, I might have been disposed to take the view that when an authority or a tribunal arrives at a decision which is based on a judicial decision which is binding upon it, and that decision is subsequently overruled, the decision at which such authority or tribunal had arrived could not be said to have suffered from any error of law apparent on the face of the record. I am conscious of the fact that there are some decision of Division Benches of this Court in which a contrary view has been taken, but in none of those cases was the point referred to above expressly raised or considered. In view, however, of the fact that the decision of my brother Deshpande in the said case is right and we agree with the same, and in view of the fact that we have come to the conclusion that there was no material at all and no finding by the 10th respondent that the religious appeals in question had materially affected the result of the election, the interesting question referred to above does not really arise before us and we do not decide the same.

BY THE COURT

26. We make the Rule absolute and pass an order under Article 226 of the Constitution quashing and setting aside the order of respondent No. 10 dated 16th July 1975, and direct that Election Petition No. M/261 of 1973 which respondent No. 1 had filed before respondent No. 10, be dismissed. We also order that respondent No. 1 should pay the petitioner's costs of this petition.

27. Ordered accordingly.


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