1. This election petition has been filed by a defeated candidate u/S. 100(1)(c) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951(hereinafter referred to as the Act), challenging the election of the respondent to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha from 78-Amloh Assembly Constituency on the sole ground that the nomination papers of one Jit Singh had been improperly rejected.
2. General Elections to the Punjab Legislative Assembly were held in February, 1992. It is common case of the parties that Amloh Constituency No. 78 was a seat reserved for the scheduled castes of the State of Punjab and that the programme notified for the said elections was as under :--
(i) Date up to which nomi-lionscould be filed,
(ii) Date of scrutiny ofnominations.
(iii) Last date for thewithdrawal of candidalurcs and allotment of symbols.
(iv) Date of poll, ifnecessary.
(v) Counting of voles was to betaken up on :
Petitioner filed his nomination papers within the specified period and was a candidate of the Shromani Akali Dal (Kabul). He is stated to have filed three nomination papers which were found valid by the returning officer at the time of scrutiny and was allotted 'Scales' as his election symbol which was reserved for his party. Sadhu Singh, respondent, also filed his nomination papers as a candidate of the Indian National Congress Party and was allotted 'Hand' as his election symbol which stood reserved for his party. One Jit Singh resident of H. No. 154, Ram Nagar Gali, Patiala also filed his nomination papers claiming to be a candidate of the Bahujan Samaj Party. At the time of scrutiny on 3-2-1992, his nomination paper was rejected as according to the returning officer it could not be shown to him that he (Jit Singh) belonged to any scheduled caste and even though at the time of filing the nomination paper he was asked to produce a scheduled caste certificate, he neither appeared in person nor any auth-orised person turned up on his behalf at the lime of scrutiny. Polling was held on Feb. 19, 1992 and after the counting of votes was over, Sadhu Singh respondent was declared elected as he polled larger number of votes than all the other candidates, including the petitioner. It is this election which has been impugned in the present petition on the solitary ground that the nomination papers of Jit Singh were improperly rejected by the returning officer.
3. In the written statement filed on behalf of the respondent, it has been admitted that Jit Singh filed his nomination papers as a candidate of the Bahujan Samaj Party which according to the respondent were validly rejected. It has also been averred that Jit Singh failed to mention in the declaration as given in the nomination paper the particular caste to which he belonged and also the area in relation to which that caste was a scheduled caste of the State of Punjab. It is the case of the respondent that the declaration furnished by Jit Singh was not valid in law and that no document/certificate was attached with the nomination paper showing the caste to which he belonged. A certified copy of the nomination paper as also the order of the returning officer dt. Feb. 3,1992 rejecting the same were altached with the written statement.
4. Pleadings of the parlies gave rise to the following issues:--
(1) Whether the nomination papers of Jit Singh were wrongfully rejected? OPP
Thereafter, parties led their evidence both or/1 and documentary.
5. As will be seen from the issues framed, the solitary question that arises for determination in this petition is whether the nomination papers of Jit Singh were improperly rejected as according to the provisions of Cl. (c) of sub-section (1) of S. 100 of the Act, improper rejection of any nomination paper is per se a ground for declaring the election of the returned candidate void.
6. Exhibit PW 2/A is the original nomination paper filed by Jit Singh and ExhibitPW 2/B is the order dt. Feb. 3,1992 passed by the returning officer rejecting this nomination paper. A bare look at the nomination paper shows that the same is dt. 1-2-1992 and has been filed in Form 2B as required under R. 4 -of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 (for short, 'the Rules'). This Form also prescribes a declaration which a candidate is required to furnish at the time of filing his nomination papers to the effect that he belongs to a particular caste of which he is a member and he is also required to specify therein the area in relation to which that caste is a scheduled caste of the State. The nomination paper filed by Jit Singh is absolutely silent in regard to the caste to which he belongs and also in regard to the area in relation to which that caste was a scheduled caste. At this stage, it would be relevant to refer to the provisions of sub-sec. (2) of S. 33 of the Act which reads as under:--
'In a constituency, where any seat is reserved, a candidate shall not be deemed to be qualified to be chosen to fill that seat unless his nomination paper contains a declaration by him specifying the particular caste or tribe of which he is a member and the area in relation to which that caste or tribe- is a Scheduled Caste or, as the case may be, a Scheduled Tribe of the State.'
From the language used in this sub-section, it is clear that the provisions thereof are mandatory and a candidate contesting from a reserved seat will not be deemed to be qualified to be chosen unless his nomination papers contain a declaration referred to above. Since the nomination paper of Jit Singh was incomplete in as much as it did not specify the particular caste to which he belonged nor did it mention the area in relation to which that caste is a scheduled caste in the State of Punjab, the mandatory provisions of S. 33(2) of the Act stood violated and in my opinion, the returning officer had no option but to reject the nomination papers of Jit Singh. Not only this, when the nomination papers were filled by Jit Singh he was told by the returning officer to produce a scheduled caste certificate in relation to the caste to which he belonged as is clear from the order Exhibit PW 2/ B whichwas passed by the returning officer and reads as under:--
'At the time of scrutiny of this Nominationpaper no such document was shown as could,authenticate that Jeet Singh candidate belongs to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe,although he was asked to produce ScheduledCaste Certificate at the time of filing theNomination paper. Neither Jeet Singh himself nor any other authorised person hasturned up at the time of scrutiny. Hencenomination paper of Jeet Singh son of NarataSingh, resident of H. No. 154, Ram NagarGali No. 7, Patiala is hereby rejected, as perthe provisions of Representation of People'sAct.
Announced. Sd/-Place : Nabha Returning Officer, NabhaDated : 3-2-1992 78 A ml oh AssemblyConstituencies.'
Jit Singh did not turn up at the time of scrutiny nor was he represented by any.auth-orised person and no such certificate was produced. The nomination papers also did not have any such certificate with it. In the result, it must be held that there has been no compliance with the mandatory provisions of S. 33(2) of the Act and the nomination papers were rightly rejected.
7. The other contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner was that the rejection of nomination papers of Jit Singh was invalid because the returning officer could not ask him to produce a separate certificate in regard to the caste to which he belonged. According to the learned counsel, the declaration ought to have been in the nomination form itself which, according to the petitioner, was complete and, therefore, rejection for non production of a separate certificate was improper. There is no merit in this contention either. I have already observed earlier that the nomination paper was incomplete and did not specify the particular caste of Jit Singh nor did it mention the area in relation to which that caste was a scheduled caste of the State of Punjab. If the contention of the learned counsel is correct that the returning officer could not have asked the candidate to producea scheduled caste certificate subsequently, even then the returning officer was justified in rejecting the nomination papers as they were incomplete. Moreover, their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Ganu Ram v. Rikhi Ram Kaundal, AIR 1984 SC 1513 have held that even though the prescribed form for filing nomination paper is a self-contained one, yet it cannot be said that filing of any enclosure or certificate along with the form is not contemplated. While referring to the provisions of sub-sec. (2) of S. 33 of the Act, this is what the apex Court has said (para 5):
'When the nomination paper has been made in the prescribed form there is no legal prohibition against the other requisite particulars being furnished in a separate paper appended to the form instead of writing them out in the form itself. This is very often done in the matter of filing returns of income-tax, wealth-tax, etc. In such cases, the annexure appended to the form should be treated as part of the nomination paper. We are, therefore, of opinion that the certificate which was produced by the appellant as an annexure to the nomination paper has to be treated as forming part of the nomination paper and the declaration contained therein that the appellant belongs to the Scheduled Caste of `Lohar' must be understood and treated as a declaration by the appellant in the nomination form within the meaning of sub-section (2) of S. 33.'
In the case in hand, the returning officer was, therefore, justified in asking Jit Singh to produce a scheduled caste certificate but since he did not do so till the time of scrutiny, his nomination papers were validly rejected. Thus, issue No. 1 is decided against the petitioner.
8. It was then strenuously urged on behalf of the petitioner that Jit Singh filed three nomination papers but only one was forthcoming from the record summoned from the District Election Officer, Patiala and from the officer of Sub Divisional Officer (Civil), Nabha who was the returning officer. The argument is that Exhibit PW 2/A being only one of the three nomination papers of Jit Singh, the other two have also been impro-perty rejected as per orders Exhibits PW 1/C and RW 2,' C. The case of the respondent, on the other hand, Is that only one nomination paper had been filed by Jit Singh which was validly rejecfed by the returning officer and that the orders Exhibits PW I /C and PW2/C are carbon copies of the order Exhibit PW 2, B whereby the only nomination paper of Jit Singh was rejected. In order to resolve this controversy, it would be necessary to first decide as to whether Jit Singh filed one nomination paper or did he file three as alleged by the petitioner.
9. In support of his contention that Jit Singh had filed three nominalion papers, learned counsel for the petitioner referred to the statement in Form A prepared by the returning officer which is Exhibit PW I/A. This is a statutory statement required to be prepared by the returning officer containing the list of nominated candidates and it was required to be sent to the District Election Officer, Patiala in the prescribed form. In column No. 7 pertaining to the number of nomination papers filed, it is shown against the name of Jit Singh that he filed three nomination papers. The figure '3' has been typed therein and the statement has been signed by the returning officer who appeared in this Court as PW 2 and again as RW 1. Exhibit PW I/B is the Punjabi version of the statement in Form A. Here also, in column No. 7 Jit Singh is shown to have filed three nomination papers. When these documents were specifically put to the returning officer, he stated emphatically, 'It is only a typographical mistake. In fact he filed only one nomination paper. In addition to this there is other document which corroborates and proves the fact that only one nomination paper had been filed by Jit Singh and the typing of digit '3' in this column is only a typographical mistake.' Another document to which reference was made is Exhibit PW 6/1 which is a report prepared by the returning officer and sent to the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab. In this report also, Jit Singh is shown to have filed three nomination papers and the figure '3' has been written in hand. Since this report had been placed on the record after the returning officer had appear-ed as a witness, he was again summonsed by the respondent and while appearing as RW 1 he categorically stated that in this report as well, the figure '3' had been written by mistake. and, in fact, Jit Singh had filed only one nomination paper which fact could be cor-'roborated from his original report Exhibit PW2/D. He stated that his report Exhibit PW 2/D was correct and the same had been prepared by him in accordance with Rule 7 of the Rules. Again, when the returning officer appeared as PW 2 he was specifically asked as to whether Jit Singh had filed three nomination papers and whether he (the returning officer) had passed three separate orders thereon rejecting the nomination papers, he stated as under:--
'It is incorrect and is categorically denied that Jit Singh candidate had filed three nomination papers and I had passed three different orders or that 1 did not keep the record in accordance with the instructions.'
Having watched the demeanour of this witness when he appeared in Court and after going through his testimony, I am of the view that he is telling the truth and there appears to be no reason for him to side with either party. Exhibit PW 2/ D is the original report prepared by him under R. 7 of the Rules. It may be recalled that under S. 35 of the Act the returning officer is required to give notice of nominations and the time and place for their scrutiny and this notice is required to be given under R. 7 in Form 3A. Exhibit PW 2/D is this notice. A bare look at this document shows that the serial No. of the nomination paper filed by Jit Singh was 2 and he had filed only one nomination paper. Those candidates who had filed more than one nomination papers the total number thereof had been shown in this statutory notice. The returning officer prepared this notice while performing his official duties and no meaningful argument could be advanced by the counsel for the petitioner to persuade me not to rely on this document. I have gone through the evidence, oral and documentary and it appears that the returning officer while preparing the statement Exhibits PW I / A, PW 1 / B and PW 6/1 committed an inadvertent error in showingthe number of nomination papers filed by Jit Singh as 3 and the petitioner wants to lake advantage of this error so as to contend that three nomination papers had been filed by Jit Singh though from the record we find that there was only one nomination paper. Exhibits PW I / C and PW 2/ C are only the carbon copies of the original order dt. Feb. 3, 1992 passed by the returning officer rejecting the solitary nomination paper filed by Jit Singh. These orders cannot, thus, be said to have rejected any other two nomination papers allegedly filed by Jit Singh. Moreover, the best person who could have told this Court as to the total number of nominations filed by Jit Singh, was Jit Singh himself who must, have been in possession of receipts issued by the returning officer in regard to the filing of the nomination papers but for reasons best known to the petitioner, he has not been produced.
10. For all these reasons I have no hesita-tion in holding that Jit Singh had filed only one nomination paper which is Exhibit PW 2/A and the same was validly rejected by the returning officer. It may be observed at this stage that the petitioner had claimed no issue in respect of this factual controversy but since the point was raised in the course of proceedings and evidence was led, I, in the interest of justice, have disposed of this matter as well.
11. No other point was raised.
12. Consequently, I find no merit in the petition and the same stands dismissed with costs.
13. Petition dismissed.