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Sri Keshav Gupta Chhajju Singh Vs. Ghayur Ali Khan - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSupreme Court Appeal No. 230 of 1958
Judge
Reported inAIR1959All607
ActsConstitution of India - Article 133 and 133(1); Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 9 and 109 - Order 3, Rule 4; People Act, 1951 - Sections 77 and 123(6)
AppellantSri Keshav Gupta Chhajju Singh
RespondentGhayur Ali Khan
Appellant AdvocateShanti Bhushan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateArif Ansari and ;S.C. Bhatnagar, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....109 of code of civil procedure code, 1908 - proceeding arising out of an election petition are of civil nature - appeal to supreme court - high court under sub-article (1) of article 133 of constitution of india can grant certificate - fresh vakalatnama not necessary - order 3 rule 4 of code of civil procedure,1908. - - the passage occurs in the well known case where the supreme court has laid down that the word 'election' has been used in article 329(b) of the constitution in the wider sense as connoting the entire process culminating in acandidate being declared elected. what their lordships clearly meant was that the right tb vote or stand as a candidate was not the ordinary type of civil or common law right but was a right which had been created by a special statute. we think he..........follows: 'an appeal shall lie to the supreme court from any judgment, decree or final order in a civil proceeding of a high court in the territory of india if the high court certifies (a) ..... (b) ..... (c) that the case is a fit one for appeal to the supreme court of india; 5. the learned counsel for the respondent has urged three points in opposing the application. he has contended (1) that this court has no jurisdiction to grant a certificate as the judgment or final order passed by the high court was not 'in a civil proceeding', (2) that the application for the grant of a certificate was not properly presented, as the learned counsel, who presented it, did not file his vakalat-nama along with his application and (3) that the case did not raise any substantial questions of law.....
Judgment:

Chaturvedi, J.

1. This is an application under Article 133 of the Constitution praying for the grant of a certificate that the case is a fit one, for appeal to the Supreme Court of India. It arises under the following circumstances.

2. The parties to the application were candidates for election to a seat in the U. P. Legislative Assembly. As a result of the poll the respondent obtained 25,933 votes and the applicant 25,258 votes. The respondent was accordingly declared as the duly elected candidate, and the applicant filed an election petition challenging the respondent's election. The main grounds taken in the petition were that the respondent, his workers, agents and supporters made systematic appeals, held meetings and printed and distributed handbills to the Muslim voters of the constituency inducing them to vote for the respondent and refrain from voting for the applicant on the ground of community and religion; that the respondent), his agents, workers and supporters made extensive use of certain posters bearing the photograph of Mahatma Gandhi and his advice 'Congress ko tor do' (the Congress organisation should he dissolved) and thus made the use of a national symbol for the purpose of reducing the votes of the applicant and increasing those of the respondent; and that the respondentdid not maintain accounts, as required by Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act.

3. The Election Tribunal held that the respondent was guilty of the commission of the corrupt practice of making systematic appeals to the Muslim voters to vote for the respondent on the ground of his community and religion, that the voters were made to believe that they would be-come objects of Divine displeasure and spiritual censure if they did not vote for the respondent, and that a pamphlet styled 'kya is Congress ko phir vote diya jave' (should votes be cast in favour of the Congress candidate again) contained false statements and misrepresentations and preached hatred against the members of the Congress organisation and interfered with the free exercise of the electoral right of the voters. The points raising other grounds were decided against the applicant, but the election of the respondent was declared to be void on the findings mentioned above, The respondent filed an anpeal in this Court and this Court did not agree with the Election Tribunal in its decision on any of the points decided by it against the respondent and allowed the appeal. This Court agreedwith the decision of the Tribunal with respect to the points which were decided by the Tribunal in favour of the respondent, and the correctness ofwhich was challenged in appeal before the Court. The applicant now wants to take the case to the Supreme Court.

4. No arguments were addressed to us at the time of the hearing of the application that the applicant was entitled to a certificate under clauses (a) and (b) of sub-Article (1) of Article 133 of the Constitution, though the application mentioned those clauses also. The reason for this appears to be that this is not a case in which it can be said that the amount or value of the subject-matter in dispute in the court of first instance and in dispute on appeal was Rs. 20,000/- or more. Even in the application it is nowhere alleged that the value of the subject-matter in dispute was Rs. 20,000/-. During the argument the learned counsel only urged that the case raised questions of general and public importance and was a fit one for appeal to file Supreme Court. We thus proceeded to considerwhether the applicant is entitled to a certificate under Article 183(1)(c) of the Constitution, which is as follows:

'An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, decree or final order in a civil proceeding of a High Court in the territory of India if the High Court certifies

(A) .....

(B) .....

(C) that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court of India;

5. The learned counsel for the respondent has urged three points in opposing the application. He has contended (1) that this Court has no jurisdiction to grant a certificate as the judgment or final order passed by the High Court was not 'in a civil proceeding', (2) that the application for the grant of a certificate was not properly presented, as the learned counsel, who presented it, did not file his Vakalat-nama along with his application and (3) that the case did not raise any substantial questions of law of general or public importance. The learned counsel for the applicant in the alternative contended that he was entitled to a certificate under sections 109 and 110 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

6. The first question that arises for decision is whether this Court has jurisdiction to grant the certificate, and that depends upon the interpretation of the words 'civil proceeding'. The learned counsel for the applicant has contended that the proceedings arising out of election matters are matters concerning disputes to civil rights and thus give rise to civil proceedings. According to the learned counsel, some civil rights have been recognised by common or general law of the land and other civil rights are conferred by the statutes. The fact that a right has been conferred by the statute does not imply that the right is not of a civil nature. The learned counsel tor the respondent has urged that the right to franchise or to seek election to a legislative body is not a civil right but is in the nature of a political right which has been conferred upon the citizen by the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act. The right is not of a civil nature but is a special right created by a statute.

7. The other Articles of the Constitution, which may be considered in this connection, are Articles 132, 134 and 136. Article 132(1) is in the following words:

'An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, decree or final order of a High Court in the territory of India whether in a civil, criminal or other proceeding, if the High Court certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution.'

Article 134(1) provides for an appeal to the Supreme Court from any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of the High Court. Article 136(1) empowers the Supreme Court to grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any Court or Tribunal in the territory of India, excepting a Court or Tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to Armed Forces,

8. From the above provisions it would appear that if a case involves the determination of a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution, the High Court is required to give the certificate under Article 132(1) irrespective of the fact whether the judgment of the High Court was delivered in a civil, criminal or other proceeding, Article 132(1) thus does not divide all the proceedings between civil and criminal, and contemplates 'other' proceedings which are neither civil nor criminal. Article 133(1) provides for appeal in a civil proceeding and Article 134(1) in a criminal proceeding. There is no provision of a certificate by the High Court in a proceeding which is neither civil nor criminal. The powers of the Supreme Court under Article 136 to grant special leave are of the widest amplitude. Under Article 133(i) we shall be entitled to grant a certificate only if the judgment of this Court can be said to have been given in a civil proceeding.

9. The expression 'civil proceeding' has not been defined in the Constitution, and the expression has to be given its ordinary dictionary meaning. The word 'civil' is derived from the latin word ''civis'' meaning a citizen. The word 'civil,' when used as an adjective to 'law', has been defined in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary as 'pertaining to the private rights and remedies of a citizen as distinguished from criminal, political etc.' The word 'political' has been given the meaning as belonging or pertaining to the State, its Government and policy; public, civil; of or pertaining to the science or art of politics'. In Stroud's Judicial Dictionary the expression 'civil proceeding' is given the meaning as 'a process for the recovery of individual right or redress of individual wrong'. The meaning of theword 'political' as given in Shorter Oxford Dictionary does not rule out the possibility of a political right being also considered as a civil right In every democratic country the right of franchise is considered to be a very valuable right, and though the exercise of the right results in electing members to legislative bodies, which have political power, the nature of the right is essentially of civil character.

10. No direct authority on the point has been produced before us excepting a decision of the An-dhra Pradesh High Court which we shall presently consider. The meaning of the expression 'civil proceeding' came up for consideration in two reported cases of this Court, namely. State of U. P. v. Mukhtar Singh, : AIR1957All505 , and Brij Lal Suri v. State of. U P. : AIR1958All621 . In both these cases the point raised was that proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution were not 'civil proceedings' within the meaning of the expression as used in Article 133(1) of the Constitution. Jn the first case there was a difference of opinion between the members constituting the Bench and in the second case both the Judges, by separate but concurrent judgments, held that it would depend on the nature of each case decided under Article 226 of the Constitution whether the proceeding giving rise to it was civil, Criminal, or other proceeding. If the order passed by the High Court is in regard to a proceeding which relates to determination of individual rights or redress of individual wrongs, then it would be an order passed in a civil proceeding. But neither of the above two cases is of any real help in determining the particular question that arises in the present case. In neither of these cases this Court had to consider whether a right to seek election to a legislative body is a civil right or not.

11. The Privy Council had to deal with a point of somewhat similar nature in the case of Hamid Hasan v. Banvarilal Roy AIR 1947 P C 90. The Municipality of Howrah had been superseded by an order of the Governor of Bengal and the Governor directed that Hamid Hasan Nomani should exercise and perform all the powers and duties which might bo exercised Or performed by or on behalf of the Chairman and the Commissioners, during the period of the suspension. The legality of the order, appointing Hamid Hasan Nomani to act as the Chairman and Commissioner during She period of the suspension of Howrah Municipality, was challenged before the High Court at Calcutta. The High Court issued a rule nisi calling upon the appellant to show cause why an information in the nature of quo warranto should not be exhibited against him. Subsequently this rule was made absolute by the High Court. An appeal was taken to the Privy Council against the order of the High Court, and the main question decided by the Privy Council was that the High Court had no power to issue the rule, because it had not inherited the personal jurisdiction of the Supreme Court over certain classes of persons residing outside the territorial limits of its ordinary original civil jurisdiction. While considering the above question, the Privy Council had to see whether the jurisdiction exercised by the High Court was ordinary, original and civil jurisdiction. The Privy Council held,

'It cannot be disputed that the issue of such writs is a matter of original jurisdiction. As to its being of a civil nature, it was held as long ago as 1788 in Reg v. Francis (1788) 2 T.R. 484 that information in the nature of quo warranto is in the nature of a civil proceeding so that a new trial may be ordered.'

They then went on to consider the question whether it was within the ordinary jurisdiction of the High Court. The decision is an authority for the proposition that information in the nature of quo warranto respecting the legal authority of a person to act as a Municipal Commissioner is a proceeding of a civil nature, The question before us is of a similar nature, and we think that for the same reasons the proceeding relating to the legality of the declaration of a person to be a duly elected member of the legislature is also of a civil nature.

12. Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that the Courts shall have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred. The decisions under this section and Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act would be relevant, and the weight of authority is overwhelmingly in favour of the view that a right to seek election to a Municipal Board or a Municipal Corporation is a right of a civil nature. The same principle, we think, should apply to a right to seek election to the legislatures of the State and the Union.

13. In Sabhapat Singh v. Abdul Gaffur, ILR 24 Cal. 107, it was held that the plaintiff could bring a suit in the civil court for the declaration that he was a duly elected member of a local body, In Ataul Huq v. Manicktala Municipality, ILR 48 Cal 378: (AIR 1921 Ca! 85), it was held that the plaintiff could bring a suit in the civil court for a declaration that he was a qualified voter and could have his name entered in the register of voters of a Municipal Board. The same view has been expressed in the case of Mahomed Maijoddin Khan v Janaki Ballav Dutta, : AIR1933Cal492 . In Gopesh Chandra v. Benodo Lal Das : AIR1936Cal424 , it was held that the plaintiff was entitled to bring a suit in a civil court for a declaration that his nomination paper was illegally rejected and the defendant was not duly elected to the Municipal Board. The view of the Calcutta High Court thus appears to be consistent that such a suit is of a civil nature and can be brought in the civil court.

14. A similar view has been expressed by the Bombay High Court in the case of K. F. Nariman v. Municipal Corporation, ILR 47 Bom 809: (AIR 1923 Bom 305), by the High Court of Madras in the case of A. Doraswami Nadar v. Joseph L. Mother : AIR1926Mad319 , and by the Patna High Court in the case of Jodhi Singh v. Vedabarat Sharma : AIR1956Pat205 .

15. The learned counsel for the respondent relied on certain observations of the Supreme Court in tile case of Ponnuswami v. Returning Officer : [1952]1SCR218 . Reliance was placed on the following passage, which occurs at page 236 (of Section C. R.): (at p. 71 of AIR) of the Report.

'The right to vote or stand as a candidate for election is not a civil right but is a creature of statute or special law and must be subject to the limitations imposed by it.'

It has been argued that their Lordships have laid down that the right to vote or stand as a candidate for election is not a civil right. After giving a most careful consideration to the argument and the facts of the case, in which the observation has been made, we find ourselves unable to accept the interpretation put upon the above passage by the learned counsel for the respondent. The passage occurs in the well known case where the Supreme Court has laid down that the word 'election' has been used in Article 329(b) of the Constitution in the wider sense as connoting the entire process culminating in acandidate being declared elected. They held that the process of election began earlier than the pre-sentation of the nomination paper, and Article 329(b) prohibited all Courts from interfering with the orders passed during the course of the elections. Even after that the objections could be taken only by means of an election petition. It was accordingly held that no writ petition under Article 226 of me Constitution could be filed during the course of the election. The learned Judges had not So consider whether the words 'civil proceeding' in Article 133(1) of the Constitution included proceedings arising out of an election matter. Coming now to the observation relied on by the learned counsel, the observation was made after a reference to a speech of a Lord Chancellor of England in the case of Theherge v. Laudry, 1876-2 AC 102. In the speech the Lord Chancellor had said that the subject matter of the legislation was extremely peculiar, which concerned the rights and privileges of the electors and of the Legislative Assembly and that right had been jealously guarded by the Assembly. It would be surprising with regard to the rights and privileges of this kind, if it were to be found that in the last resort the determination of them no longer belonged to the Legislative Assembly or to the Superior Court, which the Assembly had put in its place, but belonged to the Crown in Council. It was accordingly held that no appeal lay to the Privy Council in a case of that kind. The said observations are not applicable to the Supreme Court of India.

The learned Judges of the Supreme Court then said that one of the points, which emerged from the above decision, was that the right to vote or stand as a candidate for election was not a civil right but was a creature of the statute or special law and must be subject to the limitations imposed by it. What their Lordships clearly meant was that the right tb vote or stand as a candidate was not the ordinary type of civil or common law right but was a right which had been created by a special statute. The words ''civil right' were used in contradistinction to a right created by a statute; but it was not meant that no right created by a statute could give rise to a civil right.

16. The learned counsel for the respondent also referred to another decision of the Supremo Court reported in the case of Inamati Mallappa Basappa v. Basavaraj Ayyappa : [1959]1SCR611 . In this case their Lordships have held that the provisions of Order 23 rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure do not apply to election petitions and it is not open to a petitioner to withdraw or abandon a part of his claim once an election petition has been presented to the Election Commission. The observations relied upon by the learned counsel are to the effect that an election contest is not an action at law but is a statutory proceeding unknown to the common law and that the Court possesses no common law power in such a contest. It is not a matter in which the only persons interested are the candidates, but the public also is substantially interested in the result.

An election petition is not a suit between two persons but a proceeding in which the constituency itself is the principal party interested. There is no question that the above observations lay down the accepted view of law concerning the nature of an election petition. But the observations do not militate against the view that the rights determined in an election petition arc rights adjudicated upon in a 'civil proceeding'. We do not think that in the case of Inamati Mallappa Basappa and in the Supreme Court cases relied upon in that case their Lordships of the Supreme Court meant to lay downthat an election petition does not determine civil rights,

17. A Bench of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in the case of V. V. Giri v. Dippala Suri Dora AIR 1958 Andhra Pra. 642, has held that no certificate can be granted by a High Court under Article 133(1) of the Constitution against the judgment passed in an appeal under Section 116-A of the Representation of the People Act, because the election proceedings did not come within the meaning of the expression 'civil proceeding.' This case fully supports the contention of the learned counsel for the respondent and is the only case brought to our notice on the point; but, after having respectfully considered the judgment of the learned Judges, we find ourselves unable to agree with that view.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court has based its decision on the passage quoted by us above from the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Ponnuswami. We have come to the conclusion that the passage, in the context in which it has been used, only meant that a right of this nature was not a common law right but a right created by a statute. After a most careful consideration of the question, we have arrived at the conclusion that me proceedings arising out of an election petition e proceedings of civil nature and this Court under Article 133(1) of the Constitution can certify such a case to be a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court.

18. The next contention of the learned counsel for the respondent was that the application for the grant of a certificate had not been properly presented, because it was not accompanied by a Vakalatnama executed by the applicant in favour of the learned counsel. We looked inlo the record of the appeal, out of which the present application arises, and we found that the learned counsel for the applicant had filed his Vakalatnama in the appeal. The terms of the Vakalatnama are very wide conferring, amongst others, the following powers on the learned counsel:

'The aforesaid gentleman may file on my behalf plaint written statement .... grounds of appeal or revision etc. of every kind and file copies of all other kinds of applications and documents .. .. and file a compromise and file an application in that connection and support it i. e. take singly or jointly all proceedings connected therewith upto the time of full satisfaction of the decree and if necessary, engage any other vakil.'

Power has been conferred on the counsel to file all kinds of applications and that power is to continue till the final stage of the case, namely, 'he execution of the decree. We accordingly think that it was not necessary for the learned counsel to file another Vakalatnama along with this application. We think he was authorised by the previous Vakalatnama, filed in the appeal, to present this application as well. We accordingly decide this point also against the learned counsel for the respondent.

19. The learned counsel for the applicant had argued in the alternative that he was entitled to a certificate under sections 109 and 110 of the Civil Procedure Code. It is doubtful if any certificate can be granted under the above sections of the Code of Civil Procedure, in view of the language used in section 116-A(2) and Section 116-B of the Representation of the People Act. But we do not consider it necessary to decide this point.

20. We now come to the last question whether this case raises any question of general and public importance and should be declared to be a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court. Afterhaving heard the learned counsel for the parties, we have arrived at the conclusion that two of the questions decided by the High Court are questions of law of general and public importance and deserve an authoritative decision by the highest Court in the country. One of the questions is when an appeal to vote in favour of a candidate or to refrain from voting in favour of the other can be said to be an appeal made on the ground of 'religion' or 'community'. In this case one of the handbills contained the following appeal:

'And this is the advice of respected Maulana (Maulana Husain Ahmad Madni) too because he could never advise to vote for a Government which has insulted the respected leader by search of Da-rul-UIum Deoband and has further suppressed Urdu which is our mother tongue. Therefore we appeal to the Muslim brothers of Thana Bhawan to help Ghayur Ali Khan to win by casting their votes in his favour.'

The other handbill contained I'he following appeal;

'Should such Congress be voted for on.ce aga.'n? Whose police has insulted respected Hazrat Sheikh Maulana Sayeed Husain Ahmad Madni by making a search raid on Darululum Deoband.

Whose Government of U. P. has mercilessly rendered lacs of persons to speechlessness by not recognizing Urdu as one of tile regional languages.

Whose leadership tried to obtain Muslim votes by mean tactics of terrifying the Muslim minority by referring to the Kashmir problem.'

21. The Election Tribunal had held that the respondent was responsible for the publication of both the handbills, buy his Court did not agree with that finding as regards the first handbill, the relevant portion of which has been quoted above. The question whether the respondent was responsible for the publication of this handbill was decided in favour of the respondent, and the decision was based on a consideration of evidence. It was a decision on a question of fact. But as regards the second handbill, this Court agreed with the decision of the Election Tribunal that the handbill had been printed at the instance of the respondent. We have quoted the relevant portions of the handbill, and the Bench, which decided the appeal, took the view that the handbil contained only a criticism of the actions or omissions of a political party in power and did not amount to making of an appeal on the ground of religion or community. The first and third quotations referred to improper actions of certain individuals, which were likely to be resented even by members of the other community, and the second passage was concerning the language policy of the political party in power in the State of U. P. But such speeches are made during the elections and questions have arisen in many of the election petitions whether statements of this kind amount to appeals on the ground of religion or community.

22. The other question is whether Mahatma .Gandhi's photograph can be called a national symbol. The respondent had made use of posters containing Mahatma Gandhi's photograph but the Bench held that Mahatma Gandhi's photograph could not be called national emblem or symbol, so that the use of it did not amount to the commission of a corrupt practice. Nor did the publication of Mahatma Gandhi's alleged statement that the Congress organisation should be dissolved amount to the exercise of undue influence.

23. The third question is whether the omis-sion by the candidate himself to keep and maintainaccounts as provided by Section 77 of the Respresentation of the People Act was a corrupt practice, as defined by Section 123(6) of the Act. The Bench held that the corrupt practice mentioned in Section 123(6) was confined to the disobedience of sub-section (3) of Section 77 and not to disobedience of the other two sub-sections. The Beneh took (the view that the corrupt practice was the authorising or incurring of expenditure above the maximum prescribed by the rules, and the omission to keep and maintain ac-counts by the candidate himself did not fall within the purview of Section 123(6) of the Act.

24. The above are questions of general and public importance on which an authoritative pronouncement is called for. We accordingly think that this case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court and we allow this application and grant a certificate to the above effect under Article 133(1)(c) of the Constitution.


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