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Ram Harsh Misra Vs. Sukhad Raj Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElection
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberElection Petn. No. 3 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1976All47
ActsRepresentation of the People Act, 1951 - Sections 81, 81(1), 81(3) and 97
AppellantRam Harsh Misra
RespondentSukhad Raj Singh and ors.
Excerpt:
election - petition - section 81 and section 97 of representation of the people act, 1951 - mode of presentation - election petition handed over to the bench secretary of the court under the direction of the court by the advocate in the immediate presence of the petitioner is valid - petitioner to file requisite number of copies of the election petition duly attested in the prescribed manner - petitioner prayed for recount of all the votes - on grounds of breach of election rules - need to file recrimination petition - as recount was for the purpose of obtaining a declaration that the successful candidate's election was void and a further declaration that petitioner himself had been elected. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules.....orderjagmohan lal, j.1. this election petition has been filed by foam harsh misra to challenge the election to the u. p. legislative assembly from constituency no. 148 known as mahsi constituency district bahraich that was held on 26-2-1974. this election was contested by the petitioner and the respondents nos. 1 to 9. the respondent no. 1 sukhadraj singh having secured the largest number of votes i.e., 16486 was declared elected. the petitioner lagged behind him by 33 votes having secured 16455 valid votes.2. the election has been challenged mainly on the ground that the counting of votes was not done properly. it was alleged that the size of the counting tables was small and when ten counting agents one of each candidate and three members of the counting staff sat around it there was.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Jagmohan Lal, J.

1. This election petition has been filed by Foam Harsh Misra to challenge the election to the U. P. Legislative Assembly from Constituency No. 148 known as Mahsi Constituency District Bahraich that was held on 26-2-1974. This election was contested by the petitioner and the respondents Nos. 1 to 9. The respondent No. 1 Sukhadraj Singh having secured the largest number of votes i.e., 16486 was declared elected. The petitioner lagged behind him by 33 votes having secured 16455 valid votes.

2. The election has been challenged mainly on the ground that the counting of votes was not done properly. It was alleged that the size of the counting tables was small and when ten counting agents one of each candidate and three members of the counting staff sat around it there was great overcrowding. It was not possible for the counting agents to watch the ballot papers closely and see if they were being properly sorted out and kept correctly in the trays meant for each candidate. The counting was also done hurriedly. The counting was done in five rounds. The total number of rejected ballot papers was 2039 and the rejection was also done in a mechanical manner. The counting of first and second rounds had been completed at about 4.30 P. M. and 7 P. M. respectively and thereafter the third round of counting was completed at about 11 P. M. The fourth and fifth rounds were taken together and their counting was completed at about 5 A. M. When the second round of counting was about to close, the light was fading and there was inadequate lighting arrangement. The counting continued in that fading light also in spite of protest being made that in that light even the marks of seal on the ballot papers were not distinctly visible and as such counting should be postponed. But the Returning Officer did not pay any heed to this protest. The respondent No. 1 himself had moved an application complaining about fading light but even then no action was taken by the Returning Officer. This gave an opportunity to the counting staff to bundle out and count the ballot papers in their own manner recklessly, negligently and carelessly. When in that fading light the petitioner's agent asked a number of times to show him a particular ballot paper, the counting staff did not agree but asked him to go to the Returning Officer who in his turn said that the counting was being done by the counting staff and not by him and it was not possible for him to go and supervise the counting being done at all the fourteen tables every time. In spite of these heavy odds, the petitioner was leading all other candidates including the respondent No. 1 in the first three rounds and he was fully convinced of the fact that had the counting taken place in the proper manner in accordance with the rules after giving due opportunity to his agents his lead in those three would have been by more 100 votes than what was actually counted by the counting staff. The petitioner further alleged that the counting staff which had mostly been drawn from the consolidation department attached to the Settlement Officer (Consolidation) was favourably inclined towards the Jan Sang candidate the respondent No. 1. In the fourth round the petitioner's lead was reduced while in the fifth round the petitioner was made to lose. It was further alleged that on table No. 11 the number of ballot papers counted in favour of the petitioner as valid votes was 262 but that was entered as 162 in the result sheet which was however detected by the petitioner's counting agent immediately and on his protest that this had been done deliberately, it was corrected. This fact would be evident from a perusal of Form No. 20. The petitioner who had after the counting had started, gone back to his house as he was not keeping fit, received a message sent by his agents that serious irregularities were being committed and efforts were being made by the counting staff to bring about his defeat and to bring about the success of respondent No. 1 by hook or crook. The petitioner then went to the counting Pandal in the early morning of 28-2-1974 before the result of fourth and fifth rounds was declared. By that time the petitioner could not collect all the information regarding the other rounds from his counting agents and so he moved an application before the Returning Officer for recounting of fourth and the fifth rounds. The Returning Officer invited objections from the respondent No. 1 who filed some objections in writing. After some talk between the agents of the respondent No. 1 and the counting staff, the respondent No. 1 was persuaded to withdraw his objection and then his application for recounting was allowed. In this recount which was confined to fourth and the fifth rounds some mistakes were found as a result of which the majority secured by the respondent No. 1 was reduced by two votes. By that time the petitioner learnt about the irregularities committed in the counting in other rounds also and on seeing that some mistakes had been committed in the counting of fourth and the fifth rounds. he moved an application for a total recount which was rejected by the Assistant Returning Officer on account of threats held out by the Jan Sangh candidate and his agents and supporters that if that application was allowed they would use violence. On the basis of the oral objections that were raised by the petitioner's counting agents but were overruled by the counting staff and the Returning Officer the petitioner gave some rough figures about improper rejection of valid votes in his favour and the improper acceptance of invalid votes in favour of respondent No. 1.

3. The petitioner prayed for a total recount and rescrutiny of the ballot papers and as a result thereof to declare him as duly elected after declaring the election of the respondent No, 1 as void.

4. The petition was contested by the respondent No. 1 who denied most of these allegations and alleged that the counting had been done properly and in accordance with the rules and there had been no irregularity or illegality in the counting votes. He also took some technical pleas about the validity of the election petition which will be evident from the issues framed in this case. These issues were as follows:

'1. Whether the size of the counting table was too small to allow the counting agents of the candidates to look into the work of sorting, counting, accepting and rejecting of ballot papers and their bundling etc ?

2. Was an objection to this effect taken by the petitioner at the very beginning of the counting as alleged in para. 15 of the petition? If not, is he entitled to take this objection in the election petition ?

3. Whether any unauthorised persons entered the counting pandal after 12.30 P. M. as alleged by the petitioner in para. 21 of the petition If so, its effect ?

4. Whether at the close of the second round of counting when the light became dim qn account of setting of the sun the counting was continued in that dim light before artificial light was provided, end whether that artificial light was not sufficient to allow the ballot papers to be seen distinctly as alleged by the petitioner in paras. 22 to 24 of the petition If so, its effect ?

5. (a) Whether the counting in fourth and fifth rounds was practically taken together as alleged in para. 19 of the petition If so, its effect ?

(b) whether no objection, on this score was taken by the petitioner at that time If so, its effect ?

6. Whether on table No. 11 in the fourth round 262 ballot papers were counted in favour of the petitioner as valid votes but that was entered in the result sheet as 162 votes which was subsequently corrected on a protest being made by the petitioner's agent to the Returning Officer? If so, its effect on the petition?

7. whether on the partial recounting made on the application of the petitioner four votes originally counted as valid votes in favour of the petitioner and six votes originally counted as valid votes in favour of respondent No. 1 were found to be invalid votes and rejected as such Can an inference be drawn from, this fact that the entire recounting suffered from such mistakes ?

8. Whether after the petitioner moved a second application for total recount any threats were held out by the Jan Sangh agent and supporters as alleged in para. 35 of the petition ?

9. Whether the second recount application of the petitioner was wrongly rejected by the Returning Officer ?

10. Whether any valid votes cast in favour of the petitioner were wrongly rejected, or wrongly counted as votes in favour of the other candidates as alleged in paras. 37 to 39 of the petition ?

11. Whether about hundred invalid votes were wrongly credited to respondent No. 1 as valid votes as alleged in para. 38 of the petition ?

12. Whether the result of the election has been materially affected by the above stated irregularities, if any?

13. Whether it is a fit case for general scrutiny and recounting as has been alleged by the petitioner ?

14. Does the petition suffer from the defect of not containing a concise statement of material facts on which the petitioner relies as required by Section 83(1)(a) of the Representation of the People Act If so, is the petition liable to be rejected on this ground?

15. Whether the petition was not validly presented by the petitioner accordance with the provisions contained in Section 81 of the Representation of the People Act ?

16. Whether the copy of the Election Petition served on respondent No. 1 was not attested by the petitioner under his own signature to be a true copy of the petition as required by Section 81(3) of the Act If so, its effect ?'

5. The petitioner applied for a general inspection of the ballot papers which was allowed by me under my order dated 5-11-1974. In that order I had directed that inspection shall be done under the supervision of the Joint Registrar and the respondent No. 1 or his counsel shall have an opportunity to be present when the inspection is made. I further directed that the votes which were undisputedly in favour of the petitioner or the respondent No. 1 as admitted by them shall be separately sorted out and counted. The ballot papers in respect of which there was a dispute between the parties shall be separately counted and bundled so that decision on them may be given, by the Court.

6. After that inspection had been made the petitioner moved an application for amendment of the election petition which was allowed and the respondent No. 1 was given an opportunity to file an additional written statement in the light of that amendment. He filed additional written statement. He also wanted to file a recriminatory petition at that stage which was not accepted as it was barred by time. In the light of these amended pleadings of the parties the following further issues were framed:

17. Whether the 30 ballot papers or any of them detailed in Schedule A were valid votes cast in favour of the petitioner but were wrongly rejected as invalid?

18. Whether the 286 ballot papers de-tailed in Schedule B or any of them were valid votes cast in, favour of the petitioner but were wrongly accepted and counted as valid vote in favour of respondent No. 1?

19. Whether the 14 ballot papers as any of them specified in Schedule C were valid votes cast in favour of the petitioner but were wrongly accepted and counted as valid votes in favour of other candidates (excluding respondent No. 1) ?

20. Whether the 51 ballot papers detailed in Schedule 1 to the additional written statement or any of them valid votes cast in favour of the respondent No. 1 but were wrongly rejected by the Returning Officer as invalid votes ?

21. Whether the 150 ballot papers specified in Schedule 2 to the additional written statement or any of them were invalid and liable to be rejected but were wrongly counted as valid votes in favour of the petitioner ?

22. Whether the 3 ballot papers specified in Schedule 3 to the additional written statement or any of them were valid votes in favour of other candidates (excluding the respondent No. 1) but were wrongly accepted as valid votes in favour of the petitioner ?

23. Whether the 9 ballot papers specified in Schedule 4 to the additional written statement or any of them were valid votes in favour of the respondent No. 1 but were wrongly counted as valid votes in favour of the petitioner ?

24. Whether the 13 ballot papers specified in Schedule 5 to the additional written statement or any of them were valid votes in favour of respondent No. 1 but were wrongly counted as valid votes in favour of other candidates (excluding the petitioner) ?

25. Whether the pleas covered by issues Nos. 20 to 24 are open to the respondent No. 1 in the absence of any recriminatory petition being filed by him within the prescribed time ?

7. After that the petitioner's counsel Sri Umesh Chandra Srivastava stated that since the ballot papers had been inspected by the petitioner and counted under the orders of the Court under the supervision of the Joint Registrar of the Court, he did not propose to adduce any oral evidence in the case and would confine himself only to those disputed ballot papers which according to him should have been counted as valid votes in favour of the petitioner but were either wrongly rejected or counted as valid votes in favour of the respondent No. 1 or other candidates. Further he would also point out those disputed ballot papers which have been wrongly counted as valid votes in favour of the respondent No. 1 though they are liable to be rejected as invalid votes.

8. Sri S. K. Vidyarathi counsel for the respondent No. 1 also did not adduce any oral evidence. He further stated that be would point out the validity or otherwise of the disputed ballot papers about which the petitioner claims that they have been either wrongly rejected or wrongly accepted as valid votes in favour of respondent No. 1 or other candidates and that he would also point out those disputed ballot papers which have been wrongly counted in favour of the petitioner though they were liable to be rejected, or counted in favour of the respondent No. 1.

9. The Issues Nos. 15 and 16 were tried as preliminary issues and they were answered in the negative under my order dated 27-9-1974 which shall be deemed to be a part of this judgment Issues Nos. 1 to 3.

10. There is no evidence in support of these issues. They are found in the negative. Issue No. 4.

11. This issue on the dim light has been considered by me when I allowed the petitioner's application for inspection of ballot papers. No separate finding on this issue is necessary at this stage.

Issue No. 5 (a) and (b).

12. There is no evidence in support of this issue. Part (a) of Issue No. 5 is found in the negative. Part (b) does not arise. Issue No. 6.

13. There is no evidence in support of this issue. It is found in the negative. Issue No. 7.

14. It is an undisputed fact that in the partial recount the mistakes as mentioned in this issue were detected as a result of which the majority of respondent No. 1 was reduced by two votes; from this fact alone it cannot be inferred that the entire counting suffered from such mistakes. This circumstance however along with other facts may raise an inference that mistakes had been committed in the counting. Those mistakes have now been pin-pointed by the petitioner after an inspection of the ballot papers. They shall be dealt with at their proper place.

Issue No. 8.

15. There is no evidence in sup-port of it. It is found in the negative. Issue No. 9.

16. It does not require any finding after a general recount has been made under the orders of this Court Issues Nos. 10 and 11.

17. These issues do not call for any finding because they have now been superseded by Issues Nos. 17 to 19 framed after the amendment of the pleadings. Issue No. 13.

18. Since the general scrutiny and recounting of the ballot papers had been allowed under my order dated 5-11-1974 this issue does not call for any separate finding again. Issue No. 14.

19. The petition does not apparently suffer from the defect of not containing concise statement of material facts as required by Section 83(1)(a) of the Representation of the People Act. This issue was also not pressed on behalf of respondent No. 1. It is decided in the negative. Issue No. 17.

20. The 80 ballot papers as detailed in Schedule A to the amended election petition were rejected by the Returning Officer as invalid votes. Each of these ballot papers was scrutinised by me and as a result of that scrutiny I find that while 43 ballot papers mentioned at Serial Nos. 1, 2, 7 to 12, 14, 17, 18, 23, 30, 32, 35, 36, 39, 40, 42, 43, 45 to 48, 50 to , 60, 62, 67, 70 to 72, 76 to 79 were rightly held as invalid by the Returning Officer, the remaining 37 ballot papers mentioned at Serial Nos. 3 to 6, 13, 15, 16, 19 to 22, 24 to 29, 31, 33, 34, 37, 38, 41, 44, 49, 53, 61, 63 to 66, 68, 69, 73 to 75 and 80 were valid votes in favour of the petitioner which had been wrongly rejected. The petitioner is entitled to get a credit of 37 votes to the number of votes already counted in his favour. The issue is decided accordingly. Issue No. 18.

21. In Schedule B to the amended election petition, the petitioner gave details of 286 ballot papers which were counted by the Returning Officer as valid votes in favour of respondent No. 1 but according to the petitioner they ought to have been counted in his favour. I scrutinised all those ballot papers in the presence of the counsel of the parties. As a result of that scrutiny I find that 14 ballot papers specified at Serial Nos. 54, 66, 89, 106, 118, 134, 147, 149, 153, 155, 156, 157, 158 and 162 were actually valid votes in favour of the petitioner but were wrongly counted as valid votes in favour of the respondent No. 1. So the petitioner is entitled to get a credit for 14 valid votes and the respondent No. 1 has to set a debit of those votes out of the votes counted in his favour.

22. It was further found that the ballot papers mentioned at Serial Nos. 5, 6, 8, 32, 42, 43, 46, 47, 49, 51, 73, 75, 80, 84, 85, 88, 102, 109, 110, 112, 115, 117, 119, 120, 122, 123, 125, 126, 127, 130, 131, 138, 139, 150, 163, 164, 168, 170, 175, 195, 209, 212, 214, 215, 216, 224 to 227, 232, 238, 239, 248, 252, 254, 257, 260, 263, 275 and 278 are invalid votes which have been wrongly counted as valid votes in favour of the respondent No. 1. So 61 votes have to be debited against the votes purported to have been secured by the respondent No. 1. One ballot paper detailed at Serial No. 166 is in fact a valid vote in favour of respondent No. 6 but it was wrongly counted in favour of the respondent No. 1. So this one vote has also to be debited against the votes purported to have been secured by the respondent No. 1. The remaining votes mentioned in this Schedule were however found to be valid votes in favour of respondent No. 1. In this way, the petitioner has to get a credit of 14 votes and 76 votes have to be debited against the respondent No. 1. Issue No. 19.

In this Schedule the petitioner has specified 14 ballot papers which, according to him, were valid votes in his favour but were wrongly accepted and counted as valid votes in favour of other candidates excluding respondent No. 1. These ballot papers were also scrutinised by me. The ballot paper specified at Serial No. 1 is not a valid vote and it ought to have been rejected and not counted in favour of any candidate. The ballot papers specified at Serial Nos. 2 to 10 and 12 to 14 are valid votes in favour of the petitioner which had been wrongly counted in favour of other candidates. The ballot paper specified at Serial No. 11 is not a valid vote in favour of the petitioner. So the petitioner has to get a credit of 12 votes under this head. The issue is found accordingly. Issue No. 25.

23. During the inspection of the ballot papers which was allowed in the presence of the contesting parties and their counsel the respondent No. 1 also picked up certain ballot papers as specified by him in Schedules I to V attached to his additional written statement filed after the election petition had been allowed to be amended. According to him he found certain loopholes and defects in these ballot papers which would have the effect of reducing the total number of valid votes that were counted in favour of the petitioner by the Returning Officer and to increase the number of votes in favour of respondent No. 1. tO cover those matters Issues nos. 20 to 24 were framed.

24. On behalf of the petitioner it was however objected that the respondent No. 1 having failed to give notice of recrimination within the time allowed by Section 97(2). he is not entitled to give any evidence to show that some votes have been wrongly counted in favour of the petitioner which ought to have been rejected or counted in favour of the respondent No. 1 or some other candidates in view of the proviso to Sub-section (1) of Section 97. In support of his objection, the learned counsel for the petitioner relies on the latest decision of the Supreme Court in P. Malai Chami v. M. A. Ambalam, (AIR 1973 SC 2077) in which the Supreme Court after a review of the earlier case law held (vide Index Note (A)) that in a case where an election petitioner prays not merely for setting aside the successful candidate's election but also for declaring himself as elected, the only ground on which he can be so declared is that in fact he had received a majority of valid votes. It is in deciding as to who has got the majority of valid votes that Section 97 comes into play. In such a case it is the duty of the successful candidate to file a recrimination petition as contemplated by Section 97. If he does not do so. he will not be allowed to lead any evidence raising any plea against the validity of the claim of the election petitioner.

25. In that case also the main attack of the petitioner like that in the present case was in respect of the counting of votes in which a number of mistakes were alleged to have been committed in favour of the successful candidate. The petitioner prayed for recount which was hotly contested by the successful candidate. The learned Judge hearing the election petition however allowed the petitioner's application for recount. It was ordered that the recount would be done by four advocates acting as tellers two from each side out of a list of four furnished by each side. Both the parties and their respective counsel were permitted to be present along with four counting agents for the petitioner as well as the respondent (the successful candidate) and an Assistant Registrar of the High Court was appointed to preside over the recount of the ballot papers and to be assisted by the members of the staff dealing with election cases. The Assistant Registrar was required to submit his report and on receipt thereof an opportunity was to be given to both the parties to be heard on that report and necessary orders would be passed thereon. The Assistant Registrar himself dealt with those votes only which were conceded by one side or the other as having been validly cast in favour of the opposite side. Thus before him out of the votes which were held invalid by the Returning Officer. 2583 were agreed as rightly held invalid but there was dispute about 800 which were left for decision of the Court. Similarly, with regard to the votes counted in favour of the successful candidate it was conceded by both the sides that 11951 were valid votes in his favour while there was a dispute with regard to 567 votes. In respect of the election petitioner it was conceded by the counsel for the parties that 11301 votes had been rightly counted in his favour as valid votes but 395 ballot papers were disputed which were left for the decision of the Court. In this way, more than 1700 ballot papers were in dispute which had to be scrutinized by the learned Judge and he had to give his decision in respect of each of those ballot papers. He scrutinised those ballot papers and gave his decision. As a result of this it was found that the successful candidate had got 37372 votes while the election petitioner had secured 37297 votes. Thus the majority of the successful candidate, was reduced from 127 to 75. but still he remained the successful candidate, though by a reduced majority. It was, however, urged on behalf of the election petitioner before the learned Judge that in a case where an election petitioner had applied not merely for setting aside the election of the successful candidate but also for declaring himself as elected, it was the duty of the successful candidate to have filed a recrimination application under Section 97. This argument was based on the earlier decision of the Supreme Court in Jabar Singh v. Genda Lal, (AIR 1964 SC 1200). This objection was upheld by the learned Judge who took the view that in the absence of a recrimination petition under Section 97 the appellant (successful candidate) was not entitled to question any votes which might have been improperly received on behalf of the respondent (the defeated candidate). If that had been done, the succesful candidate as indicated earlier would still have won by a majority of 75 votes. But as he was not entitled to do so, the result of leaving out of account votes improperly received on behalf of the unsuccessful candidate and taking into account only the votes which ought to have gone to the unsuccessful candidate, which bad been improperly rejected it was found that the unsuccessful candidate has secured 96 votes more than the successful candidate. The election petition was allowed and the petitioner was declared elected. The successful candidate filed an appeal before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court relying on its earlier decision in Jabar Singh v. Gendalal, AIR 1964 SC 1200 (supra) and quoting some passage from it upheld the decision of the learned Judge and dismissed the appeal.

26. One of the arguments raised before the Supreme Court was that when the election petitioner himself prayed for recount of all the votes on the ground of breach of election rules, there was no need for filing recrimination petition even when the recount was asked for the purpose of obtaining a declaration that the successful candidate's election was void and a further declaration that the petitioner himself had been elected. This argument was repelled and the Supreme Court held that where an election petitioner prayed for recount of all the votes on ground of breach of election rules, it could not be said that there was no need for filing recrimination petition when the recount was asked for the purpose of obtaining a declaration that the successful candidate's election was void and a further declaration that the petitioner himself had been elected.

27. Dealing with the question that it was conceded on behalf of the election petitioner himself that some of the votes counted in his favour were invalid votes which ought to be excluded, the court held (vide Index Note (C)):

'Where an election petitioner prayed for recount of votes for the purpose of obtaining a declaration that the successful candidate's election was void and a further declaration that he himself had been elected and the successful candidate was precluded from giving evidence against the validity of the petitioner's claim due to non-compliance with the provisions of Section 97, Representation of the People Act, no question of estoppel can arise on account of concession made by the parties as to the votes validly given in favour of each other. Concession is akin to admission and the use of such admission would be evidence. The successful candidate can give evidence either by relying on the petitioner's concessions or leading independent evidence. Since giving of evidence was barred, the concessions cannot be used as evidence in favour of the successful candidate.'

28. This ruling applies with full emphasis to the facts of the present case. So far as the facts are concerned, the present case stands even on a stronger footing. In his original written statement the contesting respondent No. 1 had nowhere given any indication that some votes had been wrongly counted in favour of the petitioner which ought to have been rejected or counted in favour of the respondent No. 1 or any other candidate. On the other hand, he refuted all the allegations of the petitioner that there had been any irregularity or illegality in the counting of votes or any improper rejection or acceptance of ballot papers. When the petitioner's application for recount was allowed by me. though contested by the respondent No. 1. under my order dated 5-11-1974 and the inspection was going on under the supervision of the Joint Registrar of this Court, the petitioner moved an application (C. M. An No. 80 (E) of 1974) that he did not want to inspect ballot papers which had been counted as valid votes in his favour and that the Respondent No. 1 should also not be allowed to inspect those ballot papers in view of the Supreme Court decision in P. Malai Chami v. M. A. Ambalam. AIR 1973 SC 2077 (supra). Under my order dated 28-11-1974. I provisionally permitted the respondent No. 1 also to inspect the ballot papers counted as valid votes in favour of the petitioner which would be without prejudice to the petitioner and I had reserved my decision on the question whether the respondent No. 1 was entitled to challenge any ballot papers counted as valid votes in favour of the petitioner. In view of the above Supreme Court decision it is not permissible to allow the respondent No. 1 to challenge any of those ballot papers which have been counted as valid votes in favour of the petitioner because he failed to file a recrimination petition within the time allowed by Section 97(2).

29. The learned counsel for the respondent No. 1 however relied on a Full Bench decision of this Court in N. R. Shikshak v. R. P. Dikshit, 1965 All LJ 25 = (AIR 1965 All 454) (FB). In this case Desai. C. J.. speaking for the Bench observed (vide second head-note):

'In an election petition to challenge the election on the ground of Section 100(1)(d)(iii) of the Representation of The People Act it must be alleged that votes counted in favour of the returned candidate were improperly received or that votes cast in favour of a defeated candidate were improperly refused or rejected. The petitioner is not at all concerned with improper rejection or refusal of votes cast in the returned candidate's favour or with improper acceptance of votes cast in a defeated candidate's favour because the result of the election cannot be said to have been materially affected by any of these things.'

These observations are fully in consonance with the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Jabar Singh v. Genda Lal AIR 1964 SC 1200 and P. Malai Chami v. M. A. Ambalam. AIR 1973 SC 2077 (supra). He made further observations (vide head-note 4):

'A returned candidate may defend an election petition by rebutting the prima facie case made out by the petitioner and also by making a counter-claim against him; it is the latter that requires a notice of recrimination. A returned candidate is a counter petitioner only in respect of the counter claim set up by him and not in respect of the case set up against him in the election petition. A notice of recrimination is required only when the returned candidate wants to attack and not when he wants to defend, i.e., do something in addition to what he has already done to defend the petition.

Held, that Section 97 did not apply to the supplementary written statement filed by the petitioner and to his right to produce evidence, by way of rebuttal, to prove that the result of his election was not materially affected by the improper reception etc. of votes mentioned in the lists attached to the petition.'

The first sentence of this observation is again in consonance with the law laid down by the Supreme Court but the rest of the observation appears to run counter to that law. Desai, C. J., referred to the case of Jabar Singh v. Genda Lal and after quoting certain observations from that decision, tried to distinguish it by holding that it did not apply to the case of rebuttal to which the respondent had en inherent right.

30. No one can dispute the proposition that a respondent has a right to defend himself by rebutting the allegations made against him by the petitioner. In this case the petitioner alleged that 80 votes as detailed in Schedule A were wrongly rejected by the Returning Officer though they were valid votes in his favour. The respondent could defend himself by rebutting this allegation and showing that all ballot papers were validly rejected by the Returning Officer. This he did and was partially successful in showing that at least 43 of these ballot papers were rightly rejected by the Returning Officer as they were not valid votes according to rules. Similarly he successfully defended himself though partially that the allegations of the petitioner with regard to the ballot papers detailed in Schedules B and C were not correct. But as a net result of the allegations made by the petitioner and their rebuttal by the respondent with partial success it was found that the result of election had been materially affected by the wrongful rejection of some of the ballot papers which were valid votes in favour of the petitioner and the wrongful acceptance of some of the ballot papers as valid votes in favour of the respondent No. 1 though they were invalid ballot papers liable to be rejected. The overall position after that was that the petitioner secured 106 more votes than the respondent No. 1

31. The respondent No. 1 then wanted to show that some of the ballot papers counted as valid votes in favour of the petitioner were also invalid ballot payers and liable to be rejected and further that some of the ballot papers which were valid votes in favour of the respondent No. 1 were wrongly rejected by the Returning Officer. Here he starts an offensive against the petitioner and is not simply on the defensive. This is not permissible unless the respondent No. 1 has filed a recriminatory petition under Section 97. This distinction does not appear to have been realised by the Full Bench and the following material observations made by the Supreme Court in Jabar Singh v. Genda Lal, AIR 1964 SC 1200 which were extracted in the latest case P. Malai Chami v. M. A. Ambalam. AIR 1973 SC 2077 also do not seem to have been noticed by the Full Bench.

'Held: (i) The scope of the enquiry in a case falling under Section 100(1)(d)(iii) is to determine whether any votes have been improperly cast in favour of the returned candidate or any votes have been improperly refused or rejected in regard to any other candidate. These are the only two matters which would be relevant in deciding whether the election of the returned candidate has been materially affected or not. At this enquiry the onus is on the petitioner to prove his allegations. Therefore, in the case of a petition where the only claim made is that the election of the returned candidate is void, the scope of the enquiry is clearly limited by the requirement of Section 100(1)(d) itself. In fact Section 97(1) has no application to the case falling under Section 100(1)(d)(iii), the scope of enquiry is limited for the simple reason that what the clause requires to be considered is whether the election of the returned candidate has been materially affected and nothing else.

(ii) There are cases in which the election petition makes a double claim; it claims that the election of a returned candidate is void and also asks for a declaration that the petitioner himself or some other person has been duly elected. It is in regard to such a composite case that Section 100 as well as Section 101 would apply, and it is in respect of the additional claim for a declaration that some other candidate has been duly elected that Section 97 comes into play. Section 97(1) thus allows the returned candidate to recriminate and raise pleas in support of his case. The result of Section 97(1) therefore, is that in dealing with a composite election petition the Tribunal enquires into not only the case made out by the petitioner, but also the counterclaim made by the returned candidate. In this connection the returned candidate is required to comply with the provisions of Section 97(1) and Section 97(2) of the Act. If the returned candidate does not recriminate as required by Section 97, then he cannot make any attack against the alternative claim made by the petitioner. In other words the returned candidate will not be allowed to lead any evidence because he is precluded from raising any pleas against the validity of the claim of the alternative candidate.'

32. In view of the latest decision of the Supreme Court following its earlier decision in Jabar Singh v. Genda Lal, AIR 1964 SC 1200 and Bhim Sen v. Gopali reported in (1961) 22 ELR 288. the law laid down by the Full Bench shall be deemed to have been impliedly overruled. I therefore answer this issue in the negative.

Issues Nos. 22 to 24.

33. In view of my finding on Issue No. 25. it is not necessary to record any finding on these issues. Issue No. 12.

34. The mistakes committed by the Returning Officer in the counting of votes have materially affected the result of the election. Now we find that out of 16486 votes purported to have been received by the respondent No. 1, 76 votes have to be deducted. After that he is left with 16410 votes. On the other hand, the petitioner has received 63 more valid votes besides 16453 votes counted in his favour. Thus the petitioner secures 16516 votes. The petitioner has therefore a lead over the respondent No. 1 by 106 votes and he has secured the largest number of votes.

35. The election petition is allowed. The election of respondent No. 1 is declared void and set aside and in his place the petitioner is declared to have been validly elected as Member of the Legislative Assembly from Constituency No. 148 known as Mahsi Constituency District Bahraich. The petitioner shall also receive his costs from the contesting respondent No. 1 which are assessed at Rs. 2,000/- (rupees two thousand).

Petition allowed.

[Order answering Issues Nos. 15 and 16 in Election Petition No 3 of 1974. dated 27-9-1974 See para 9.]

9-A. In this election petition Issues Nos. 15 and 16 were tried as preliminary issues. These issues are:

'15. Whether the petition was not validly presented by the petitioner in accordance with the provisions contained in Section 81 of the Representation of the People Act ?

16. Whether the copy of the Election Petition served on respondent No. 1 was not attested by the petitioner under his own signature to be a true copy of the petition as required by Section 81(3) of the Act If so its effect Findings. Issue No. 15.

9-B. The factual position as it has emerged from the statement on oath of the petitioner Sri Ram Harsh Misra is that he had engaged Sri Ramesh Kumar Srivastava Advocate and some other Advocates as his counsel for the conduct of this election petition. On 12-4-1974 at about 4 P. M. the petitioner accompanied by his counsel Sri Ramesh Kumar Srivastava went to the court-room of the petition Judge for presenting the election petition. By that time no particular Judge had been assigned for this purpose by the Chief Justice under Sub-section (2) of Section 80-A. The petition Judge was therefore to receive this petition also under the Rules of the Court. When the petitioner and his counsel reached the court-room the learned Judge had retired in his Chamber. So they went to his Chamber and requested that the election petition may be taken. The learned Judge directed his Bench Secretary to take the petition. The petitioner stated on oath that thereupon he handed over the petition to his counsel Sri Ramesh Kumar Srivastava who passed it on to the Bench Secretary Sri Ram Singh Jauhari P. W. 1. The Bench Secretary wrote the following endoresment on this petition:

'Presented today by Sri K. K. Srivastava an Advocate of this Court.

Hon'ble Trivedi, J.

Lay before the Hon'ble the Chief Justice for orders after obtaining the S. R.'s report.'

This endorsement was signed by the Hon'ble Petition Judge Omprakash Trivedi. J. This statement of the petitioner is corroborated in material particulars by the Bench Secretary Sri Ram Singh Jauhary who stated that the counsel Sri R. K. Srivastava was accompanied by some other persons though he did not specifically state about the petitioner being one of those persons. On these facts the petition shall be deemed to have been validly presented as held by the Supreme Court in Sheodan Singh v. Mohan Lal. (AIR 1969 SC 1024). In that case the election petition was presented to the Registry by an Advocate's clerk in the immediate presence (of the petitioner, and therefore) though not in form it was presented by the petitioner himself. Hence the requirement of law was fully satisfied.

9-C. There is yet another aspect of the matter. Sub-section (1) of Section 81 provides:

'An election petition calling in question any election may be presented on one or more of the grounds specified in ..... to the High Court by any candidate to such election or any elector within forty-five days from, but not earlier than, the date of election of the returned candidate or if there are more than one returned candidate at the election and the dates of their election are different, the later of these two dates.' 9-D. It has been argued by the learned counsel for the petitioner that this sub-section provides as to who can file or institute election petitions, the forum where such election petitions are to be filed and the limitation within which they are to be filed. It does not specifically provide for the mode of presentation of the petition which was formerly provided in Sub-section (2) of Section 81 which was subsequently repealed when the forum of filing such election petition was changed from Election Commission to High Court. Perhaps at the time of the repeal of that sub-section the Legislature did not think it expedient to provide any specific mode of presentation of the election petition which was after that to be presented in the High Court in the usual manner in which other petitions are presented. In support of his argument the learned counsel relies on two Bench decisions of this Court. In one case Ganpat Singh v. Election Tribunal Mainpuri, (1960 All LJ 48) before a Division Bench consisting of Mootham. C. J. and R. Dayal, J. (as his Lordship then was), the question arose about the interpretation of Rule 47 of the U. P. Town Areas (Conduct of Election of Chairman) Rules, 1953, which was similarly worded as Sub-section (1) of Section 81 of the Representation of the People Act so far as presentation of election petition is concerned. That rule provided:

'An election petition may be presented by any candidate whose name has been entered in a list under Rule 12 of the U. P. Town Areas (Conduct of Election of Chairman) Rules, 1953, or whose nomination has been rejected under Rule 11 of the aforesaid Rules read with para. 22 of the U. P. Town Areas (Conduct of Election of Member) Order, 1953, Election petitions will be presented by only those persons who were candidates for an election against which election petition is filed.' It was held by the Bench that there is no sufficient ground for placing the restricted interpretation on that rule that an election petition could be presented only by the petitioner in person so as to exclude its presentation through a duly authorised agent. The Bench was of the opinion that the primary object of that rule was to define and thereby limit the class of persons who can challenge an election and not to prescribe the manner in which the election petition is to be presented. It was further held that unless there is some thing in an enactment which shows that a certain act must be performed by a particular person, or the nature of the act is itself such that it can be performed only by that person, that act can ordinarily be done by a duly authorised agent.

9-E. The learned counsel for the petitioner also referred to the provisions contained in Section 33(1) and Section 37 of the Representation of the People Act wherein it was provided that a nomination paper could be presented to the Returning Officer by a candidate either personally or through his proposer, or a nomination paper could be withdrawn by a notice in writing presented to the Returning Officer by such candidate either personally or by his proposer. It is argued that wherever the Legislature intended that a particular act should be done by a candidate personally it had made specific provision to that effect giving such alternative mode to its being done through another person as was also provided therein. On the other hand, Sub-section (1) of Section 81 as it now stands after the repeal of Sub-section (2) thereof does not indicate that an election petition can be presented to the High Court by a candidate or elector in person and not through an authorised agent. In my opinion, this argument is not without force. Even in Satya Narain v. Dhuja Ram, (AIR 1974 SC 1185) on which strong reliance is placed on behalf of respondent No. 1. the election petition was presented before the High Court by the petitioner's counsel. But neither in the High Court as evident from the facts of this case as reported in Satya Narain v. Dhuja Ram, (AIR 1973 P. & H. 431) nor in the Supreme Court any objection was raised that the election petition was not properly presented.

9-F. The other decision relied upon by the learned counsel for the petitioner is L. B. Singh v. Vishal Singh, (1963 All LJ 542). This case related to the interpretation of Rule 24 of the U. P. Panchayat Raj Rules. 1947 which also provided that election petitions will be presented by only those persons who were candidates for an election against which election petition is filed. A bench of this Court consisting of A. P. Srivastava and R. S. Pathak, JJ., held that this rule could not be interpreted to mean that the election petition could be presented only by the candidate personally and not through an authorised agent.

9-G. The learned counsel for the respondent No. 1 then pointed out that the Vakalatnama executed by the petitioner in favour of Sri R. K. Srivastava Advocate did not authorise him to present the election petition even if it is held that presentation of election petition through an authorised agent is also permissible. The Vakalatnama in favour of the Advocate is worded in general terms so as to give him all possible authority for the conduct of the election case including the filing of any paper. The expression 'filing of any paper', in my opinion, includes the presentation of election petition also. In any case, on the facts as found above, the petition was handed over to the Bench Secretary of the Court under the direction of the Court by the Advocate of the petitioner in the immediate presence of the petitioner and that presentation would be quite valid in view of the Supreme Court decision referred to above. The issue is decided in the negative.

Issue No. 16.

9-H. On this issue the factual position as it has emerged from the statements on oath of the petitioner Sri Ram Harsh Misra P. W. 3 and the Stamp Reporter of this Court Mohd. Zaheer Hasan Rizvi P. W. 2, was that the election petition when it was presented was accompanied by atleast 11 copies of the petition which had duly been attested by the petitioner under his own signature to be true copy of the petition. The Stamp Reporter Sri Mohd. Zaheer Hasan Rizvi had also endorsed his report on this petition that it was in accordance with Sections 81, 82, 83 and 117. Mohd. Zaheer Hasan Rizvi has affirmed that be had checked up. as he was required to do under the Rules of the Court, the copies which had accompanied the election petition and had satisfied himself that they were equal to the number of the respondents in the election petition plus one more and each copy was duly attested as required by Section 81(3). (See Rule 3 of Chapter XV-A of the Rules of Court). There is no evidence in rebuttal and I see no reason to disbelieve this witness or the petitioner on this point. In fact, the objection that has been taken by the respondent No. 1 is not that when the election petition was filed it was not accompanied by the requisite number of copies thereof attested in the manner provided in Section 81(3). On the other hand, the objection is that the copy that was served on the respondent No. 1 was not duly attested in that manner. Sub-section (3) of Section 81 in terms only lays down a duty on the petitioner to file requisite number of copies of the election petition attested in the manner provided therein and it does not speak about the service of such copy on the respondent. If the petitioner has filed only as many copies as there are respondents in the election petition and no more and it is further proved that one of the copies which had been served on one of the respondents was not attested in the manner provided in Section 81(3), an inference of fact may be drawn that all the copies filed by the petitioner with his election petition were not attested in the manner required by law and as such compliance of Section 81(3) had not been made. But if the petitioner has filed not only the requisite number of copies which are all duly attested but also some extra copies which may or may not be so attested, it will not make the election petition invalid under Section 81(3) The filing of extra copies, whether duly attested or not is only superfluous. In such a case if the office of the Court sends one of those extra copies to one of the respondents while it retains a duly attested copy on the record, the petitioner cannot be penalised for it by holding that he had not complied with the provisions of Section 81(3) On this record there is still another extra copy of the petition which is duly attested according to the requirements of Section 81(3) besides those which had been issued to the respondents. None of the other respondents besides respondent No. 1 complained that the copy received by him was not duly attested.

9-I. So far as this Court is concerned it has provided in Rule 6 of Chapter XV-A of the Rules of the Court that notice of election petition shall issue to the respondents by ordinary process and simultaneously by registered post. With each notice a copy of the election petition is also sent. The rule however does not provide as to who would prepare the extra copies which are to be sent to the respondents by registered post in addition to the requisite number of attested copies which a petitioner is under a legal obligation to file under Section 81(3) The practice however is that those extra en-pies are also supplied by the petitioner. There is no legal requirement that those extra copies should also be attested in the same manner as provided in Section 21(3). The petitioner stated that 4 or 5 days after filing his election petition he was required to file some more copies and on that occasion he filed another 11 or 12 copies which had been signed by him on the last page and last but one page. Those copies were not however attested by him as true copies, nor he had subscribed his signature on every page of those copies.

9-J. After both these sets of copies had been received by the Court, the office of the Court issued notice to the respondents by ordinary process and also by registered post each notice being accompanied by a copy of the election petition

9-K. Sri Sukhadraj Singh, respondent No. 1 who appeared as D. W. 1 stated that he received only that notice along with the copy of the election, petition which had been seat by ordinary process but not the other one which was sent lay registered post. The copy which he purports to have received by ordinary process has been filed by him as Ext. A-1. This copy bears the signature of the petitioner on the last page and, the last but one page but it has not been attested as a true copy. Whether or not this copy also satisfied the requirements of Section 81(3) will be considered by me later on. At this stage, it may be recorded that the other copy which was sent to the respondent No. 1 at his correct address under registered cover was not return-ed to the Court. So the presumption under Section 27 of the General Clauses Act is that it was received by the addressee or by some one on his behalf. The counsel for the respondent No. 1 was possessed of another copy of the election, petition which was duly attested under the signature of the petitioner as required by Section 81(3). On seeing that copy. the learned counsel for the petitioner asked the respondent No. 1 in his cross-examination about that copy. He admitted that his counsel was using the other copy which was duly attested under the signature of the petitioner but he offered an explanation by saving that after he had filled his own copy Ext. A-1 in this Court fee borrowed that copy which was being used by his counsel from respondent No. 2 Parasram. That person was not produced to corroborate this fact. It is very unusual that the counsel for the respondent No. 1 instead of preparing a private copy far his use at the time of filing the copy Ext. A-1 received by the respondent No. 1 from the Court, would require the respondent No. 1 to borrow a copy from another respondent. In my opinion, this explanation appears to be an afterthought. Perhaps, it is the other copy which was also sent by the Court to the respondent No. 1.

9-L. But even assuming what the respondent No. 1 has stated is all correct that he received only the copy Ext. A-1 through the process server and that the other copy sent to him by the Court under registered cover was not actually received by him, it will not make any difference so far as the validity of the election petition is concerned. Once the petitioner had filed at least 10 copies of the petition duly attested in the manner provided in Section 81(3), he has complied with the requirements of law. If out of those copies one attested copy was retained on the record or the same was sent to respondent No. 1 under registered cover which he did not receive, the petitioner is not liable for it. The respondent No. 1 had admittedly received atleast one copy of the petition which is Ext. A-1. It has not been pointed out by the learned counsel for the respondent that it is not a correct copy or that this copy in any way handicapped him in drafting his written-statement. It was held by the Supreme Court in Murarka Radhey Shyam v. Roop Singh, (AIR 1964 SC 1545) that the word 'copy' in Sub-section (3) of Section 61 does not mean an absolutely exact copy, but means that the copy shall be so true that nobody can by any possibility misunderstand it. The same view was taken in another case Ch. Subbarao v. Member Election Tribunal. (AIR 1964 SC 1027).

9-M. Lastly, it was argued by the teamed counsel for the petitioner that even if it is assumed for arguments' sake that the copy Ext. A-1 is one of those ten copies which the petitioner was required under Section 81(3) to file alone with the election petition, this copy in itself also substantially satisfied the requirement of that provision. It bears the signature of the petitioner in original. The only defect in it, if it can be called a defect, is that it does not bear the words 'True Copy' above the signature of the petitioner. It was held by the Supreme Court in Dr. Anoop Singh v. Abdul Ghani. (AIR 1965 SC 815) following the decision in Ch. Subbarao v. Member. Election Tribunal. AIR 1964 SC 1027 (supra that as the signature in original was there in the copy the presence of such original signature in the copy was sufficient to indicate that the copy was attested as a true copy even though the words 'true copy' were not written above the signature in the copies. It was held to be substantial compliance with Section 81(3). So from whatever point of view the matter may be looked at the election petition does not, in my opinion, suffer from any non-compliance with the provisions of Section 81(3). The issue is decided against the respondent No. 1.


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