1. This is an Elector's petition. Under Ss. 80 and 81 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, (hereinafter referred to as the Act), challenging the election of Shri Gurbanta Singh, respondent No.1, to the Punjab Legislative Assembly, from Kartarpur (Reserve) Constituency. It is alleged in the petition that Harbans Singh, respondent No. 3, had also filed his nomination papers from this constituency for contesting the election; that on 12th February, 1972, at about 8.00 A.M. respondent No. 1 along with his son, Jagjit Singh, went to the residence of Karam Singh, Sarpanch, where they met Harbans Singh, respondent No. 3, Jagir Singh, Sarpanch of village Sagwal was already present there. After some discussion, respondent No.1 agreed to pay Rs. 5000/- to respondent No. 3, in case the latter withdrew his nomination. Respondent No.1 gave an amount of Rs. 5000/- to Karam Singh Sarpanch, for being handed over to Harbans Singh, i.e. respondent No. 3, after the latter had withdrawn his nomination. In pursuance of the offer of bribery respondent No. 3 withdrew his nomination on 12th February, 1972. In this manner, it was alleged that respondent No. 1 had committed the corrupt practice of bribery as defined in Section 123(1)(A)(a) of the Act.
2. In the written statement, respondent No. 1 traversed these allegations, and so did Hari Singh, respondent No. 2. The parties went to trial on the following issue:--
'Whether Respondent 1 on February 12, 1972 at about 8 A.M. at village Dhadda, made a gift of Rs. 5000/- to Respondent No. 3 as a gratification, with the object of inducing the latter to withdraw his nomination paper, as alleged in sub-paras (i) to (iv) to Para, 4 of the petition and thereby committed the corrupt practice of 'Bribery' as defined in Section 123(1) of the 1951 Act.'
In support of this issue, the petitioner had summoned two witnesses through Court. One was Karam Singh, Sarpanch, and the other was Jagir Singh. Karam Singh has been examined as P.W. 1. No other witness has been examined by the petitioner. He did not even care to appear himself in the witness-box. He absented himself and the evidence was closed by an order, dated 28th February, 1973, of the Court. In rebuttal, Shri Gurbanta Singh, respondent No. 1 appeared in the witness box and tendered in evidence certified copies of two documents, marked as Exhibits Rule 1 and Rule 2. Karam Singh stated:-
'On 11th February, 1972 at about 4.00 P. M., I went to the office of the Returning Officer, Jullundur City, to see how many nomination papers had been filed for Jullundur Cantt. Constituency...............From the persons collected there. I learnt that 7 or 8 candidates had filed their nomination papers for contesting from Jullundur Cantonment Consistency. I was returning towards the Gate. I saw there S. Harbans Singh, who was one of the Candidates for Kartarpur Assembly Constituency. He was standing on the left side of the Road. Master Gurbanta Singh, Respondent and his son, Jagjit Singh, were also standing there. They were accompanied by Jagir Singh. Sarpanch of village Sagwal.................. I asked Harbans Singh as to what was his position. He replied that he would be contesting the election...................Master Gurbanta Singh then called me and asked me, whether I fully knew Harbans Singh. Candidate, I replied in the affirmative. Master Gurbanta Singh asked me to persuade Harbans Singh to withdraw from the contest. I told Master Gurbanta Singh that I would try to persuade him to withdraw. I then again approached Harbans Singh. Candidate, I told Mr. Harbans Sigh that I was known both to Master Gurbanta Singh and Harbans Singh and was thus in a very awkward position and that he (Harbans Singh) should withdraw from the contest. Harbans Singh was, however, adamant refused to withdraw and solicited my help in the elections. I told Harbans Singh that he should see me in my village on the following day and there we would confer with each other. I added that he should come in the morning so that I might not be away from home. I also told Master Gurbanta Singh to reach my house on the following morning. At about 7.30 or 7.45 Master Gurbanta Singh, his son. Jagjit Singh, and Jagir Singh. Sarpanch of Sagwal reached my house. Harbans Singh alone came there. I advised both the parties that they should reach an understanding, according to which, Harbans Singh should withdraw from the contest. Harbans Singh said that he had already incurred sufficient expenses on organising the Election Campaign. Master Gurbanta Singh offered to pay the expenses incurred by him. Harbans Singh said that he had expended Rs. 10,000/-. Master Gurbanta Singh said that the figure quoted by him was inflated and he could not have incurred so much expenditure. Ultimately, Master Gurbanta Singh said that he would pay him Rs. 5,000/-. He suggested that the money would be entrusted to me and after withdrawal from the contest by Harbans Singh, the money would be paid to the latter. Harbans Singh accepted this offer and agreed to withdraw from the contest, though he was still protesting that he had incurred expenditure for in excess of Rs. 5,000/-. Master Gurbanta Singh added that subsequently, he would pay him more to meet the excess. Harbans Singh insisted that the money should be paid to me (witness). So that he may after withdrawal from the contest receive the same from me. At that time, Master Gurbanta Singh did not have the money with him. Master Gurbanta Singh and his son. Jagjit Singh, then went away in a car and returned about one hour thereafter. In the meantime, Harbans Singh was waiting at my house for their return. Master Gurbanta Singh then took out Rs. 5,000/- from his pocket and entrusted the same to me in the presence of Harbans Singh. He then asked Harbans Singh to withdraw from the contest and thereafter, receive the money from me........................At about 5 P. M., I reached the office of the Returning Officer, Jullundur City, Persons present there told me that Harbans Singh had taken away his nomination papers and withdrawn from the contest. Jagjit Singh son of Master Gurbanta Singh was also present there.................... I then alone went to the Central Co-operative Bank, Jullundur, Harbans Singh met me there. I took him to the Company Bagh................. I then paid him Rs. 5,000/- in currency notes of the denomination of Rs. 100/- each. He accepted the money................'
3. The evidence of Karam Singh, P.W. 1. cannot be believed for the following reasons:
(1) He was a chance witness of the worst type. He had no business to be in Purani Kutchery, Jullundur City. He wants to have it believed that he went to see the list of the candidates who had filed their nomination papers from Jullundur Cantt. This explanation does not carry conviction, because the witness, according to his own admission, was neither a candidate nor a proposer or a worker interested in any candidate. He is a resident of village Dadda, which is at a distance of 4 or 5 miles form the District Courts. He is not a resident of Kartarpur (Reserve) Constituency. He says that he met Harbans Singh and Master Gurbanta Singh in the compound of the District Courts per-chance on 11-2-1972. He had a talk with Harbans Singh. Thereafter, Master Gurbanta Singh called him and straightway requested him to persuade Harbans Singh to withdraw from the contest.
(2) There is nothing on the record to show that the witness had any special relationship or tie with Master Gurbanta Singh. Respondent 1. The matter was a veteran of many election battles. He was supposed to know that to induce a candidate to withdraw from his nomination on payment of gratification was a corrupt practice. If the Respondent was so minded, he would not choose Karam Singh as a 'go-between' for that purpose.
(3) The story propounded by Karam Singh is that after the preliminary talk with Harbans Singh and Master Gurbanta Singh in the compound of the District Courts on 11-2-1972, he again approached Harbans Singh, candidate, in his village Maksudan or Maksudpur and persuaded him to withdraw from the contest. Harbans Singh was then found adamant. It was then settled that Harbans Singh would meet the witness and Master Gurbanta Singh at the house of the witness in village Dadda on the following day. In order to test the veracity of this story, witness was asked to give description and location of the house of Harbans Singh in village Maksudan. Witness frankly stated that he could not tell the situation of Harbans Singh's house. Realising that he had been cornered, he attempted to get out of the situation by a volte-face, saying that he did not go to the house of Harbans Singh, but remained standing on the G.T. Road, where he called Harbans Singh through a boy. It will bear repetition that the witness does not hail from the same Constituency to which Harbans Singh belongs. He had only a superficial acquaintance with Harbans Singh and his affairs. He was the least suited for the role which he has arrogated to himself.
(4) Harbans Singh was admittedly a 'covering' candidate for Hari Singh, Respondent 3, the official nominee of the Akali Dal. Hari Singh was in the field on the date on which Harbans Singh withdrew his nomination. Withdrawal of Harbans Singh only, therefore, would have been of no use to Master Gurbanta Singh if Hari Singh was still there to oppose him in the election. It is true that Hari Singh, also, had withdrawn from the contest later on, but there is absolutely no allegation that Hari Singh's withdrawal was also induced by Master Gurbanta Singh.
(5) Karam Singh, after a good deal of prevarication and equivocation, admitted that one Shri Kulwant Singh was contesting the election from the adjacent Adampur Assembly Constituency as a nominee of the Communist Party of India. It was suggested to him that he was a Counting Agent of this Kulwant Singh. At first, the witness said:
'I had no connection with the Kulwant Singh, nor did I help him in the elections. I do not remember firmly if I was a Counting Agent of the said Kulwant Singh.' He added that he was present in the Training College, Jullundur, when votes pertaining to Adampur Constituency were being counted. He was pressed:
'Whose Counting Agent you were there?' Witness then gave the evasive answer:
'Perhaps, I was acting as Counting agent of Sita Ram, candidate, a nominee of the Republican Party.' Questioned further, he stated that he did not remember how many votes were obtained by this Sita Ram. He could not say, whether the number of the votes secured by this Sita Ram was 10 or 1000. Witness remembered this much that the security of Sita Ram had been forfeited. He was then asked whether he had any connection with the Republican Party. He replied that he had gone there as a Shoukia, i.e., only for fun.
Master Gurbanta Singh has tendered a list of the candidates, who were contesting the election from Adampur Constituency. None of these candidates was Sita Ram. Thus, the story about the witness being a Counting Agent of Sita Ram was transparently false. It seems that he was, in fact, the Counting Agent Kulwant Singh. He admitted that he and Kulwant Singh were both Directors of Janta Co-operative Sugar Mills. It was put to the witness that this Kulwant Singh, after his defeat, had issued a poster, in which he had said harsh things against Master Gurbanta Singh.
(6) The witness is apparently a partisan of the petitioner and the aforesaid Kulwant Singh, who, as Master Gurbanta Singh has vouched in the witness-box were his inveterate opponents, as was apparent from the poster. Ext. R. W. 1/R 1, which was issued by Kulwant Singh.''
(7) Master Gurbanta Singh, as his own witness, has stoutly denied the allegations levelled against him with regard to the offer or payment of the bribe to Harbans Singh for inducing him to withdraw from the election. It is to be noted that Shri J.C. Verma, counsel for the petitioner, though present, did not cross-examine Master Gurbanta Singh when the latter was in the witness-box.
4. For the foregoing reasons, I dismiss this petition with costs. Counsel's fee: Rs. 1000/-.
5. Petition dismissed.