(1) This is a petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India for the issue of a Writ in the nature of certiorari, to call for the records and quash the order of the Returning Officer, Bhadrachalam (G. 7052 of 1954 dated 7.1.1955) declaring the nomination of Sri Syamala Sitaramayya to the Scheduled Tribes Reserved Seat of the Bhadrachalam Constitutency as valid and to give such other direction or directions as may be deemed fit.
(2) For an election to the Scheduled Tribes Reserved Seat to the Andhra Legilsative Assembly from the Bhadrachalam Constituency the petitioner and two others, viz., Kondamodalu Rami Reddy and Syamala Sitaramayya filed nominations. On 7.1.1955, the Returning Officer for that Constitutency took up for scrutiny the nomination papers filed by the various condidates. At the time of the scrutiny, the petitioner took objection to the nomination of Syamala Sitaramayya alleging that he (the said Sitaramayya) is less than 25 years and as such he is not competent to be chosen to fill a seat in the State Legislature under Art. 173(b) of the Constitution.
(3) The Returning Officer passed an order which runs as follows ;
'The scrutiny of the nominations was taken up at 11 a.m. on 7.1.1955. The nomination of the candidate, Sri Syamala Sitramayya, was taken up for scrutiny at about 11-15 a.m. The petitioner raised an objection stating that the candidate is underaged, that is less than 25 years, and as such he is not competent to stand for election. But he did not produce any evidence in support of his contention and requested time till this evening. On a personal of the electoral roll prepared in 1953, it is seen that his age is noted as 24 years and I accordingly considered that he should be definitely above 25 years of age now. As I could not adjourn the issue under S. 36 (5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, I passed an order accepting the nomination then and there. After completing the scrutiny of all the other nominations (8 in all) and after the candidate's party left the hall, the petitioner filed a birth extract of the candidate at 12-30 p.m., wherein it is shown that the date of birth of the candidate is 30.4.1931, indicating that his age is less than 25, Since I have already passed orders accepting the nomination of the respondent the petition stands dismissed.'
The petitioner has filed this petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution to quash the said order.
(4) In -- 'Ponnuswami v. Returning Officer. Namakkal, : 1SCR218 for SC judgment only) (A), Mr. Justice Subba Rao (as he then was) and Mr. Justice Venkatarama Ayyar had to consider the scope and effect of Art. 329(b), Constitution of India, which provides as follows :
Article 329 -- 'notwithstanding anything in this Constitution -- (b) no election to either House of Parliament or to the House or either House of the Legislature of a State shall be called in question except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as may be provided for by or under any law made by the appropriate Legislature'.
(5) After an exhaustive review of all the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act, (43 of 1951), the learned Judges held that an election can be questioned only in the manner provided by Art. 329(b) and not otherwise, notwithstanding the provisions of Article 326. The learned Judges also held that the nomination is a part of an election.
(6) The decision of the Madras High Court was taken in appeal to the Supreme Court in 'ponnuswami v. Returning Officer, Namakkal (A)'. The Supreme Court summarised their conclusions at p. 797 thus :
'(1) Having regard to the important junctions which the Legislatures have to perform in democratic countries it has always been recognised to be a matter of first importance that elections should be concluded as early as possible according to time schedule, and all controversial matters and all disputes arising out of elections should be postponed till after the elections are over so that the election proceedings may not be unduly retarded or protracted.
(2) In conformity with this principle, the scheme of the election law in this country as well as in England is that no significance should be attached to anything which does not affect the 'election' ; and if any irregularities are committed while it is in progress and they belong to the category or class which, under the law by which elections are governed, would have the effect of vitiating the 'election' and enable the person affected to call in question they should be brought up before a Special Tribunal by means of an election petition and not be made the subject of a dispute before any court while the election is in progress.
(7) Mr. Kondapi, the learned counsel for the petitioner, urges that in the decisions above cited the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court were dealing with a case regarding improper rejection of a nomination and that in this petition what is complained of is the improper acceptance of a nomination and that therefore, there is an essential distinction between the present case and the cases which the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court had to deal with. I am unable to accept this contention. In my opinion, the rejection of a nomination and the acceptance of a nomination stand on the same footing and there is no difference in principle between the two cases. If it is conceded that the rejection of a nomination cannot be the subject-matter of a Writ petition under Art. 226, the acceptance of a nomination cannot also be the subject-matter of a Writ Petition under Art. 226. Having regard to the fact that the process of nomination is a part of the election, Article 329(b) of the Constitution provides a complete bar to this court entertaining a Writ Petition under Art. 226.
(8) Mr. Kondapi urges that non-interference at this stage would involve the postponement of the determination of the dispute to a stage after the declaration of the election result. That is so, but in view of the express bar contained in Art. 329(b) there is no escape from this position. Art. 329(b) has provided this bar for a very good reason. As has been pointed out by the Supreme Court it does not require much argument to show that in a country with a democratic Constitution in which the Legislature have to play a very important role, it will lead to serious consequences if the elections are unduly protracted or obtructed.
(9) The Writ Petition must therefore be dismissed.
(10) Petition dismissed.