1. This appeal and First Appeal No. 18 of 1959 raise common questions for decision. This order shall accordingly dispose of both the appeals.
2. These are appeals under Section 116A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (herein after called the Act), from the orders of the Election Tribunal, Rajnandgaon, dismissing the election petitions filed by the appellants for declaring the election of the respondents to the Section Legislative Assembly to be void under Section 100(1)(c) of the Act.
3. The present appellant claimed to be an elector on the roll of the Bemetara Constituency. His status as an elector was denied by the respondents before the Tribunal, but was not contested before us. During the last general elections to the State Legislative Assembly, respondent No. 1 was a candidate for the general seat and respondent No. 2, for the reserved seat, of the Bemetara Constituency. One Dhansingh had filed three nomination papers for the general seat of that Constituency, but his nomination was rejected by the Returning Officer. As a result of the poll, the respondents were declared to be duly elected for their respective seats. The case of the appellant was that Dhansingb's nomination was improperly rejected, and accordingly the election of the respondents was void under Section 100(1)(c) of the Act. Alternatively, he claimed that the election of respondent No. 1 was void. The Tribunal rejected his contention and dismissed his election petition.
4. The appellant in the other appeal is enrolled as a voter on the roll of the Balod Constituency. The respondent and one Inderman were candidates from that Constituency during the last general elections to the State Legislative Assembly. One V. R. Deshpande had also filed a nomination paper from the same Constituency, but his nomination was rejected by the Returning Officer. The case of the appellant was that his nomination was improperly rejected and accordingly the election of the respondent was void under Section 100(1)(c) of the Act. This contention was also rejected by the Tribunal on the same grounds, and as a result the election petition was dismissed.
5. Exs. P-1 to P-3 are the nomination papers of Dhansingh. In column 5 thereof he only entered his electoral roll number. Ex. P-l is the nomination paper filed by V. R. Deshpande. In columns 2 and 5 thereof, which relate to the electoral roll numbers of the proposer and candidate respectively, only the electoral roll numbers were entered. These columns are marked with an asterisk. Towards the end of the nomination paper the information that is required to be entered against these columns is indicated. The entries made there by V. R. Deshpande are as below:
(i) The name of the Assembly Constituency:--Balod (General).
(ii) The name of the part of the electoral roll in which the name of the proposer or candidate, as the case may be, has been entered:--
Proposer -- Mouza Pararas, Halka No. 23, Page 11, No. 9.
Candidate--Mouza Balod, Halka No, 25, Page 12, No. 1215.
(iii) The serial number of the entry in thatpart:-- (The entry is blank).The question is whether the information given inthese nomination papers was sufficient and did notjustify their rejection.
6. Rule 2(1)(b) of the Respresentation of the People (Conduct of Elections and Election Petitions) Rules, 1956, defines 'electoral roll number' of a person as meaning-
(i) the serial number of the entry in the electoral roll in respect of that person;
(ii) the serial number of the part of the electoral roll in which such entry occurs; and
(iii) the name of the constituency to which the electoral roll relates.
This is the information that is indicated towards the end of the nomination forms, to be given against columns 2 and 5 which bear an asterisk mark. The relative importance of these entries will appear from the following discussion.
7. Rule 5 of the Representation of the People (Preparation of Electoral Rolls) Rules 1956, is as below.
'5. Division of constituencies into electoral areas:-- (1) The electoral registration officer shall divide the constituency into convenient parts, hereafter in these Rules referred to as 'electoral areas'.
2. The electoral areas shall be numbered consecutively, and the electoral roll for each such area shall form a separate part of the electoral roll for the constituency, bearing the same number as the electoral areas.'
Rule 6 deals with order of names. Sub-rule (1) provides that the names in the electoral roll for each, electoral area shall be arranged according to house number, unless the chief electoral officer, subject to any general or special instructions issued by the Election Commission, determines that the alphabetical order is more convenient or that the names shall be arranged partly in one way and partly in the other. Sub-rule (2) is as below:
'(2) The names in the electoral roll shall be numbered, so far as practicable, consecutively with a separate series of number (beginning with the number one) for each electoral area.'
This means that there are separate electoral rolls for each electoral area, the electoral areas being numbered-consecutively and the names in the electoral roll of each electoral area being numbered consecutively with a separate series of numbers, beginning with the number one for each electoral area. Accordingly unless (i) the name of the Constituency and (ii) the serial number of the part of an electoral roll are known, it would not be possible for a Returning Officer, merely from the serial number of the electoral roll in respect of a pro-poser or a candidate, to identify him unless he scans the electoral rolls of all the constituencies, or if the name of the constituency is given, unless be examines all the parts of the electoral rolls. Such a scrutiny would necessarily take a long time, which is not required of him in view of the fact that under Section 36(5) of the Act he is bound to hold the scrutiny on the date appointed in that behalf and is precluded from adjourning the proceedings except when compelled by riot or open violence or by causes beyond his control.
8. The above analysis shows that the items given in Rule 2(1) (b) of the Representation of the People (Conduct of Elections and Election Petitions; Rules, 1956, are inter-connected and each or them is equally important. Unless all the items are completed, the Returning Officer would be required to examine the electoral rolls or parts of the electoral rolls in order to identify the proposer or the candidate, as the case may be, for which the statute has not given him any time. It is true that under the proviso to Section 33(4) of the Act, he is required to permit any clerical or technical error in the nomination papers in regard to the names or the electoral roll numbers of the candidates or their proposers to be corrected in order to bring them into conformity with the corresponding entries in the electoral rolls; and where necessary, to direct that any clerical or printing error in the said entries shall be overlooked. But this presupposes that the entries give the information necessary to find out the part of the electoral roll in which their names appear and to trace out either their names or electoral roll numbers. If this requisite information is wanting, the defect would be of a substantial nature within the meaning of Section 36(4) of the Act.
9. Judged on this principle, none of the nomination papers in question would be found to the properly filled. In the nomination papers, either of Dhansing or of V. R. Deshpande, only the electoral roll numbers are given but not the serial number of the part of the electoral roll in which they occur. In our opinion, this defect is of a substantial character. In this connection, we do not propose to examine the decisions cited at the Bar, for each case depends upon its own facts and is not a guide to the instant cases. The defect being of a substantial character, the rejection by the Returning Officer of the nomination of Dhansingh or V. R. Deshpande was not improper and accordingly the Tribunal rightly dismissed the election petitions of the appellants.
10. The result is that the appeals fail and aredismissed with costs. Hearing fee Rs. 100/- in eachappeal, if certified, which shall be paid out of thesecurity deposit, and the balance shall be returnedto the appellants.