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Vishwanath Prasad Vs. Malkhan Singh Sharma and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElection
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ No. 84 of 1963
Judge
Reported inAIR1964All181
ActsRepresentation of the People Act, 1951 - Sections 90, 92 and 98
AppellantVishwanath Prasad
RespondentMalkhan Singh Sharma and ors.
Appellant AdvocateS.N. Kackker, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateV.P. Misra, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
election - dismissal of petition - sections 90,92 and 98 of representation of the people act, 1951 - election tribunal dismissing election petition on grounds that parties were not present on date of hearing - restoring petition subsequently - election commission issuing notification of order of dismissal - election tribunal does not have power to dismiss petition - restoration does not come into question - election commission also acting in excess of jurisdiction while issuing notification. - .....the election commission. this election petition was referred for trial to respondent no. 1 as the election tribunal. some preliminary issues were framed in the case and the tribunal fixed 2nd of november, 1962 for decision of issues nos. 17 (1) and 19. on the 2nd november, 1962, it was found necessary to record some evidence on those preliminary issues also. accordingly the statement of kamiakant was started and his examination-in-chief was concluded on that date. thereafter it was postponed for the 16th of november, 1962 for cross-examination. on the 16th of november, 1952, when the case was called out, at 10-30 a. m. kamiakant whose cross-examination had to be earned on did not appear, nor did the other applicants or their counsel appear. the tribunal accordingly dismissed the.....
Judgment:

B. Dayal, J.

1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the constitution against an order of the Election tribunal restoring an election petition which had been dismissed in default. The petitioner Vishwanath Pd. was declared elected on the 27th of February, 1962. Respondents Nos. 2, 3 and 4, who claimed to be the electors filed an election petition before the Election Commission. This election petition was referred for trial to respondent No. 1 as the ELECTION Tribunal. Some preliminary issues were framed in the case and the Tribunal fixed 2nd of November, 1962 for decision of issues Nos. 17 (1) and 19. On the 2nd November, 1962, it was found necessary to record some evidence on those preliminary issues also. Accordingly the statement of Kamiakant was started and his examination-in-chief was concluded on that date. Thereafter it was postponed for the 16th of November, 1962 for cross-examination. On the 16th of November, 1952, when the case was called out, at 10-30 a. m. Kamiakant whose cross-examination had to be earned on did not appear, nor did the other applicants or their counsel appear. The tribunal accordingly dismissed the election petition by an order in the following words:

'Case called several times between 10-30 a.m. and 11 a. m. but nobody for respondent. The petitioners of their counsel are not present. The respondents or their counsel are also not present. I am sorry. I cannot wait to a larger period. I have already waited for half an hour. I have got to other work also the person is dismissed for default of the parties. Cost on parties'. Later m the day, Kamiakant appeared and made an application that he had been delayed because he could not get a conveyance when he started from home and he had reached the tribunal's office at 11-20 a. m. The Tribunal recorded evidence on this application and came to the contusion that the contention of Kamla Kant war correct. It accordingly set aside the order dismissing the election petition and restored it to its original number, by an order dated the 1st December, 1962 which is being challenged by this writ petition.

2. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner here is that the Tribunal had no power to restore the election petition after once dismissing it. He has consequently prayed for a writ in the nature of certiorari quashing the order of the Tribunal dated the 1st of December, 1962 and also for a writ in the nature or prohibition to respondent No. 1 not to proceed further with the trial of the election petition No. 312 of 1962.

3. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the order of dismissal for default is an order terminating the proceedings of the election petition are consequently the order of dismissal is an order under Section 98(a) of the Representation of the People Act. His contention further is that the C. P. C. has been applied to election petitions only so far as it relates to the trial of the petition, and the Tribunal has not been conferred any of the other powers which a civil court has under the C. P. C. The power to restore is a power which has not been conferred on the Tribunal, consequently, the order restoring the petition once dismissed is an order without jurisdiction.

4. After hearing learned counsel at length, we are of the opinion that this contention of the learned counsel is not supported by the provisions of the Representation of the People Act. Section 90 of the Representation of the People Act provides as follows:--

'Subject to the provisions of this Act and to any rule made thereunder, every election petition shall be tried by the Tribunal as nearly as may be in accordance with the procedure applicable under the C. P. C. 1908 (V or 1908) to the trial of suits'.

Section 92 of the same Act confers some special powers on the Tribunal and' is as follows:--

'92. The Tribunal shall have the powers whichare vested in a court under the C. P. C., 1908 (5 of1908), when trying a suit in respect of the following matters-

(a) discovery and inspection;

(b) enforcing the attendance of witnesses, and requesting the deposit of their expenses;

(c) compelling the production of documents;

(d) examining witnesses on oath;

(e) granting adjournments;

(f) reception of evidence taken on affidavit; and

(g) issuing commission for the examination of witnesses and may summon and examine sue motu any person whose evidence appears to it to be material; and Shan be deemed to be a Civil Court within the meaning of Sections 480 and 482 of the Cr. P. C., 1898 (5 of 1898)

Explanation--for the purpose of enforcing me attendance of witnesses, the local limits of the jurisdiction of the Tribunal shall be the limits of the State in which the election was held'.

The very existence of Section 92 indicates that the scheme of the Act was not to confer all the powers under the code of Civil Procedure, which a court possesses, upon a Tribunal. Under the scheme of the Representation of the People Act, it appears that a petition once admitted has to be heard as a suit and Section 90 (3) confers power on the Tribunal to dismiss a petition under certain circumstances when the provisions of Section 81 or 82 have not been complied with. Apart from this section there is no provision permitting dismissal of an election petition with-out deciding the question raised in the petition. In fact m one sense the dismissal of the election petition under Section 90 (3) also would be a dismissal upon an issue which is raised in the petition itself and upon the decision of which depends the further progress of the petition. If on any of these grounds the Tribunal comes to the conclusion that the petition is not maintainable at all and is liable to be dismissed then automatically the proceedings come to an end. Section 98 then provides as follows:--

'98--At the conclusion of the trial of an election petition we Tribunal shall make an order -

(a) dismissing the election petition;or

(b) declaring the election of all or any of the returned candidates to be void; or

(c) declaring the; election of all or any of the returned candidates to be void and the petitioner or any outer candidate to have been fully elected'.

it is noteworthy fn this section that the orders mentioned in Clauses (a), (b) and (c) are to follow conclusion of the trial and the trial has to conclude after deciding the issues that have been raised in the petition. If there are issues which require evidence then after taking the evidence the tribunal can come to the conclusion that the evidence proves a particular fact or not and if there are questions of law for which mere arguments are sufficient, then after hearing the arguments, the trial would conclude. Where thus appears to be no provision in the Representation of the People Act empowering the Tribunal to dismiss a petition simply because one of the witnesses or one of the parties to the petition did not appear when the case to called on for hearing.

5. In the present case, the order dismissing we petition was even otherwise an improper order. The 15th of November, 1962 was the date fixed for cross-examination of one of the witnesses for deciding preliminary issues in the absence of that witness, the Tribunal could at the most decide the preliminary issue on the merits. The court did not choose to do so and did not decide tile preliminary issues at all. It, on the other hand, dismissed the whole petition itself. The date fixed was not for hearing of the whole petition. The Court also appears to have passed the order in a hurry. It has been said by this Court that a court or tribunal should not be in a hurry to dismiss suits in default.

6. A Division Bench of this Court in Ranteshwar Dayal v. sub-Divisional Officer, Ghatampur, ILR (1961) 2, aLL 298 : (AIR 1963 All 518) had to consider existence of inherent powers in Election Tribunals and it was obser-ved:

'The inherent powers are of a court and we do not accept that an election tribunal is a court. Merely because it records evidence, hears parties and decides certain disputes between them it does not become a court, which is invested with the power of making any order that it considers necessary, in the interest of justice or (sic) prevent abuse of the process of court . . . . . they are created by the statute to decide certain disputes and are bound to decide them strictly according to law after following the prescribed procedure and have jurisdiction to do only what they are expressly empowered to co'.

7. Learned counsel for the petitioner cited some cases for the proposition that any dismissal of an election petition would amount to termination of the proceedings and would be an order under Section 98 of the Representation of the People Act. Chandrika Pd. Tripathi v. Shiv Pd. Cham-puria, AIR 1959 S. C. 827 as also Om Prabha Jain v. Gianchand, AIR 1959 SC 837 were the cases in which the provisions of the Representation of the People Act were not complied with, with the result that the Tribunal had dismissed the petition under Section 90 (3) of that Act in these circumstances it was held that the order must be deemed to be an order under Section 98 of the Act. Those cases were obviously different because the dismissal or the petition was according to the powers given under the Representation of the people Act and that was a proper conclusion of the trial. These cases are therefore distinguishable. The cases of other High courts to we same effect need not be multiplied. However, Sunderlal Mannalal v. Nandrandas Dwarkadas, AIR 1958 Madh Pra 260 was a case in which the Tribunal had dismissed a petition for default but in that case the learned Judges of the Madhya Pradesh High Court held that the tribunal also had the power to restore the election petition. For the view that the Tribunal could reject the petition in default it was held as follows:--

'The Act does not give any power of dismissal. But it is axiomatic that no court or Tribunal is supposed to continue a proceeding before it when the party who has moved it has not appeared nor cared to remain present. The dismissal therefore is under an inherent power which every tribunal possesses'.

We, with great respect, are unable to agree with this line of argument. A tribunal cannot be said to possess inherent powers to dismiss an election petition in any way it likes, it the party does not appear before the Tribunal and does not produce the necessary evidence for the issue and the burden of proof is upon that party or does not submit arguments before the Tribunal to convince it to decide the issue in its favour, then the Tribunal may decide it against that party, but it must be a decision on the merits the issue which is before the tribunal must be decides. It is not necessary for the Tribunal to wait on indefinitely. The Tribunal may close the case and decide the issue but there is no reason for holding that the Tribunal has power to dismiss the petition without deciding the issues.

8. It was then contended by learned counsel that the order dismissing the election petition for default was itself an appealable order under Section 116-A of the Representation of the People Act and If that remedy was available to the petitioner, the Tribunal could not exercise any inherent power to restore it. Since we have already held that the Tribunal had no power to dismiss the election petition for default, the question of restoring does not arise. In the eye of law the election petition was still pending and not disposed of by the subsequent order the Tribunal had merely removed the effect of an order which was wrong and had no effect on the proceedings. The election petition had never been properly disposed of and therefore the tribunal was right in deciding to proceed with it.

9. It was further contended that after the termination of the petition by its dismissal the Election com-mission had issued a Notification treating it to be an order under Section 98 of the Representation of the People Act. The contention therefore is that the Notification issued by the Election Commission conclusively shows that the order of the Tribunal was an order under Section 98 of the said Act. We are unable to agree with this contention Whether an order of the Tribunal was an order under Section 98 or not is a question of law and the interpretation put upon it by the Election Commission would not make it so if otherwise it was not an order under Section 98. The Notification of the Tribunal (sic) (Election Commission?) would, therefore, be itself a Notification without jurisdiction when the election petition was not actually disposed of by an order under S. 98 of the said Act Subsequently the Election commission itself cancelled that notification by means of a subsequent order. It was contended by the learned counsel for the petitioner that the Election commission had no power to cancel the Notification once issued. If the first Notification issued by the Election Commission was itself without jurisdiction then the subsequent cancellation of it was merely correcting of a mistake which the Commission Had made and, in any case, the Notification would have no effect upon the election petition and its trial.

10. In the result we see no force in this petition and dismiss it with costs.


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