1. Shri Randhit Singh (petitioner) has filed this election petition under Section 80 and 81 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for setting aside the election of Shri Ravi Inder Singh (respondent) to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha from the Morinda Constituency No. 68.
2. Preliminary objection raised by the respondent in his written statement gave rise to following preliminary issues:--
(1) Whether an incomplete election petition has been filed? If so, what effect?
(2) Where the non-supply of Annexures with the copy supplied to the respondent, is a defect in presentation of the election petition? If so, what effect?
(3) Whether the allegations of corrupt practices, mentioned in the petition, lack in full material facts and as such do not disclose a complete cause of action?
3. Learned counsel for the respondent first took up issues Nos. 1 and 2 together. For the decision thereof, it deserves mention that as averred in the election petition, formerly the respondent was the Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. Notwithstanding the dissolution thereof, the respondent continued to hold the said office up to the election in question. While holding the said office the respondent had discretionary grants at his disposal. In order to promote his election prospects the respondent liberally distributed the said grants in his constituency. In Paras. 5, to 8 of the election petitioner the material facts of the said corrupt practice are stated as under :--
That there is a Majri Block in the constituency of the respondent. Out of the discretionary grants sanctioned by the speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha 24, villages of Majri Block during and just before the period of elections, runs into lakhs and lakhs of rupees. Annexure bearing the list of villages, the amounts sanctioned for them vide details and dates of the letters, is filed here with this petition as Ep/1.
That again the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Sh. Barjinder Singh, acting at the behest of the Speaker (respondent) distributed an amount of Rupees 98,304) - as the Small Savings Award money tot the 18 village with in the limits of Majri block a part of the constituency of the respondent. A copy of the letter dated 2-5-1980. Issued by the Deputy Commissioner Ropar, is filed as Annexure Ep/2.
That the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, vide letter dated 14-2-1980 again acting at the behest of the Speaker (respondent) directed the distribution of the funds to the villages in the said Majri block even from the funds of the Development and Panchayat Minister. The copy of this letter by the Deputy Commissioner to deliberately improve the election prospects of the respondent, is filed as Annexure Ep/3,
That furthermore the Development Commissioner, Punjab on 7-3-1980 had another Category of funds of Rs. 4 lakhs at his disposal to be utilised in the whole of the State of Punjab. Out of this amount, Rs. 2 lakhs had been sanctioned for two villages in the said Majri Block namely, Kansala and Goslan (as 1 lakh each). This was done for the same purpose at the instance ad direction of the promoting of the election prospects of promoting of the election prospects of the respondent. The state machinery has been worked up for the same sinister purpose to keep the election prospects of the respondent in view. As stated above, the speaker was the only surviving remnant of the erstwhile State Government run by the Akalis. The copy of the letter dated 7-3-1980. Issued by the Development Commissioner Punjab, a little while before holding of the election is filed as Annexure Ep/4'.
4. In support of the objection that the election petition has not been properly presented, learned counsel for the respondent argued that along with the copy of the election petition the copies of Annexures Ep/1 to Ep/4 were not served on the respondent Sub-sec (3) of Section 81 of the Act provides that 'every election petition shall be accompanied by as many copies thereof as there are respondents mentioned in the petition, and every such copy shall be attested by the petitioner under his own signature to be a true copy of the petition'. The sub-section (1) of S. 86 of the Act says that the High Court shall dismiss the election petition which does not comply with the provision of Section 81 of the Act.
5. The question whether copy of the election petition includes copies of Annexures also, came up for consideration in Panna v. Mukhtiar Singh, AIR 1972 Punj & Har 451. It was laid down that the object of providing a complete copy of the petition is to place the entire relevant material in respect of the petition in the hands of the respondent as is available before the Court so that he may more effectively answer thereto. An election petition filed without complete copies as required by section 81(3) would itself not be complete petition, and would, therefore, be hit by Section 86 of the Act. In such a case the Court has no discretion in the matter and cannot condone the default, and must dismiss the petition.
6. Contention of the learned counsel for the respondent that Annexures Ep/1 top Ep/ 4 containing better particulars of the alleged corrupt practice are integral part of the election petition, has not been disputed by the learned counsel for the petitioner. However, learned counsel for the petitioner explained that the copies thereof were filed in Court. Now it may be noted that the procedure adopted by the petitioner in this case is that he did not actually annex the documents Ep/ 1 to Ep/4 with the election petition. Instead he mentioned these documents in the list in Form 'B' framed by this Court along with the Election Rule No. 12 vide Rules and Orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Volume, V. Chapter 4-GG Form 'B' relates to documents in possession or power of the petitioner, on which he relies in support of his petition. Besides Ep/ 1 to Ep/ 4 with the copies thereof in a separate envelope. It may be clarified here that the copies of the document Ep/ 1 to Ep/ 4 were not tagged with the copy of the election petition which was served on the respondent. In these circumstances, urged the learned counsel for the petitioner that it was for the Registry of this Court to tag the copies of the said documents with the copy of the election petition and serve them on the respondent. For determining the soundness of this contention the following head note of Smt. Sahodrabai Rai v. Ram Singh Tharwar, AIR 1968 SC 1079 may be reproduced with advantage :--
'Under the Representation of the People Act, details of corrupt practice or averments too compendious for being included in the election petition may be set out in the 'schedules or Annexures to the election petition. The law requires that even though they are outside the election petition, they must be signed and verified but such anexures or schedules are then treated as integrated with the election petition and copies of them must be served on the respondent I the requirement regarding service of the election petition is to be wholly complied with. But this does not apply to documents which are merely evidence in the case but which for reasons of clarity and to lend force to the petition are not kept back but produced or filed with the election petition. They are in no sense an integral part of the averments of the petition but are only evidence of those averments and in proof thereof.'
7. Accordingly, now it deserve mention that Rule 12 of the Election Rules of this court classifies the documents in three heads :--
'12(b) Schedules or annexures to the petition referred to in the body of the petition :--
Such schedules or annexures shall also be signed by the petitioner and verified in the same manner as the petition.
(c) The documents in the possession or power of the petitioner, on which he relies in support of his petition, together with a list thereof in Form 'B' appended to these Rules.
(cc) A list of any other documents on which the petitioner relies in support of his claim which shall be in form 'BB' appended to these rules, and where any such, document is not in possession or power any of the petitioners he shal,l if possible, state in whose possession or power it is.'
8. The learned counsel for the petitioner having conceded that the document Ep/1 to Ep/ 4 were the integral part of the averments made in the election petition, the petitioner was required to annex them with the election petition. It follows, therefore, that copies thereof should have been likewise annexed with the copy of the election petition served on the respondent. Then and then alone it could be said that a complete election petition has been filed. It is thus manifest that the petitioner erred in adopting Form 'B' for these documents. That being so, the petitioner cannot escape the consequences of the defect in presentation of the election petition. In the result issues Nos. 1 ad 2 are decided against the petitioner and the election petition has to be dismissed.
9. For deciding issue No. 3, it is now well settled that the word 'material' shows that facts ecessary to formulate a complete cause of action must be stated. The fact which constitutes the corrupt practice must be stated and the fact must be correlated to one of the heads of corrupt practices. Omission of a single material fact leads to an incomplete cause of action and the statement of claim becomes bad. An election petition without material facts relating to corrupt practice is no election petition at all vide S.N. Balakrishna v. George Fernandez, AIR 1969 SC 1201. Another authority in point Udhav Singh v. Madhav Rao Scindia, (1977) 1 SCC 511: (AIR 1976 SC 744) wherein their Lord ships laid down:-
'All the primary facts which must be proved at the trial by a party to establish the existence of a cause of action or his defense, are 'material facts'. In the context of a charge of corrupt practice, 'Material facts ' would mean all the basic facts constituting the ingredients of the particular corrupt practice alleged. which the petitioner is bound to substantiate before he can succeed on that charge.... All these facts which are essential to clothe the petitioner with a complete cause of action are 'Material facts ' which must be pleaded and failure to plead even a single material fact amounts to disobedience of the mandate of Section 83(1)(a) of the Representation of the People Act.'
10. Learned Counsel for the petitioner contended that the averments made in the election petition bear out a change o bribery, defined as under, in Section 123(1)(A)(b)(ii) of the Representation of the People Act :--
'(1) 'Bribery' that is to say :--
(A) Any gift, offer or promise by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of candidate or his election agent of any gratification, to any person whomsoever with the object, directly or indirectly of inducing:--
(a) * * * *
(b) an elector to vote or refrain from voting at an election, or as a reward to-
(i) * * *
(ii) an elector for having voted or refrained from voting.'
11. Particular reference was then made to averments in Para 4 of the election petition, which reads-
'That the respondent in the capacity of the Speaker had a large amount of funds to be utilised at his personal discretion. When the office of the speaker continued, there was a great scope for utilisation of the discretionary funds at the hands of the respondent to direct those funds in order to promote and better his election prospects in the ensuing election. This in fact he did liberally and, distributed these funds out of proportion in his won constituency Morinda where one part of it constituted Majri block. This spending of State funds by and at the behest of the Speaker (respondent) in order to promote his election prospects to the disadvantage of his rival candidates amounts to a corrupt practice being bribery given in the exercise of abuse of discretion in his own constituency.'
12. It is further averred in the election petition tat during and just before the election in question the amount sanctioned by the respondent from his discretionary grant for 24 villages of Majri Block in his constituency, runs into lakhs and lakhs of rupees. Besides in May 1980, at the behest of the respondent, Shri Surjinder Singh, Deputy commissioner, Ropar, distributed an amount of Rs. 98.304/- to 18 villages in the above said block. It is also alleged in the election petition that the Deputy Commissioner Ropar, acting under the instruction of the respondent directed distribution of funds to the villages of the said block in February, 1980, even from the funds of the Development and Panchayat Minister. Then in March, 1980, the Development Commissioner, Punjab, sanctioned Rs. 2 lacs for two villages of Majri block. It is further stated in paragraph 8 of the election petition as under :--
'This was done for the same purpose at the instance and direction of the respondent to be used as bribe money for promoting of the election prospects of the respondent. The State machinery has been worked up for the same sinister purpose to keep the election prospects of the respondent in view. As stated above, the Speaker was the only surviving remnant of the erstwhile state Government run by the Akalis.***** '.
The other material facts stated in para 9 of the election petition to support the charge of bribery, are that the respondent distributed large amount of funds amongst local temples and other public bodies to ensure the success in his election. In village Teor Rs. 5000/- were given to a temple through Hari Nandan on 30th of May, 1980. In village Behlalpur Rs. 3000/- were handed over to Hari Singh Panch on the said date. Rs. 3.000/- were given to Nagar Sudhar Sabha of village Paorali on 30th May, 1980 through Labh Singh Pardhan of the Sabha. In village Naggal Rs. 3000/- were paid to a Mandir through Sarup on the said date i. e. just a day before the poll. Then in para 9 the averment made is :--
'These spendings, mentioned above, amount to giving of bribery to the voters and as such a corrupt practice committed by the respondent to get elected in all events.'
12A. The question whether the giving of amounts from the discretionary grant by Minister, near about the election, amount to a corrupt practice, viz., bribery or not, was considered by their lordships of the Supreme court at length in Ghasi Ram v. Dal Singh, AIR 1968 Sc 1191 and Mrs. Om Prabha Jain v. Abnash Chand, AIR 1968 SC 1083. Head Note 'B' of the latter authority reads :--
' A Minister in the discharge of his duties may be required to do some acts of money for the uplift of certain communities and this action f the Minister is not to be construed against him unless it can be established that there was a bargain with the voters forgetting their assistance at the election.
Held in the circumstances the action of the Minister, the returned candidate, could not be construed against him.'
13. I have perused the original election petitions of both the above cited cases and I find that allegation of bargain with the voters for getting their votes can be easily construed therefrom, but in the case in hand this essential ingredient is manifestly lacking. In the absence of this material fact the charge of bribery against the respondent must collapse. In Udhav Singh's case (AIR 1976 SC 744)(supra) their Lordships have further laid down that failure to plead a single material fact leads to incomplete cause of action and incomplete cause of action and incomplete allegations of a charge are liable to be struck off under Order 6, Rule 16, Code or civil Procedure.
14. Faced with this situation, learned counsel for the petitioner contended that all the same the pleadings in Paras 6, 7 and 8 of the election petition would still survive. Therein, the allegations as pointed out already, are that the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar and the Development Commissioner, Punjab at the behest of the respondent distributed grants in the villages of the Majri block in the constituency of the respondent. This constitutes a corrupt practice, as provided in sub-section (7) of the Section 123 of the Representation of the people Act inasmuch as the respondent obtained the assistance of the prospects of his election.
15. On the other hand learned counsel for the respondent contended that in para 6 of the election petition it has not been stated that the Deputy Commissioner's assistance was obtained for the furtherance of the prospect of the election of the prospects of the election of the respondent. This material fact being lacking para 6 of the election petition cannot survive.
16. As regards Paras 7 and 8 of the election petition, learned counsel for the respondent pointed out that proviso to sub-section (7) of Section 123 of the Act lays down that where any Government servant does anything in discharge of his official duty, in relation to, any candidate, the act or anything done by him shall not be deemed to be assistance for the furtherance of the prospects of the candidate's election. Nevertheless, learned counsel for the respondent was unable to spell out from the averments made in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the election petition that the application of the proviso was attracted.
17. Adverting now to para 10 of the election petition, the disqualification attributed to the respondent is that at the relevant time he was the Director of the Punjab Tractors Ltd. S. A. S. Nahar which is the State Corporation financed by the State exchequer. The respondent, thus held an office of profit. On the other hand his learned counsel referred to the provisions of Section 10 of the Representation of the People Act providing for the disqualification for office under Government or Company or Corporation. A plain reading of the Section shows that it is the Managing Agent, Manager or Secretary of any such Company or Corporation, who stands disqualified from contesting election. In this view of the matter learned counsel for the petitioner frankly conceded and declined to press this ground of disqualification in support of the election petition.
18. For deciding the next objection raised by the learned counsel for the respondent, para 11 of the election petition has to be reproduced. The averments made therein are as under :--
'That the respondent was set up as a candidate by a Seven-Member Committee constituted by the Akal Takhat (the religious temple of the Sikhs). The jurisdiction of the authority of the Shiromani Akali Dal (political party) had already been annihilated by the Akal Takhat under the hukumnama and decree issued by the Jathedar of the Akal Takhat Sadhu Singh Bhaura. Instead of Shiromani Alkali Dal, a so-called Seven-Member Committee under the Chairmanship of Sh. Ajit Singh Sarhadi was set up in compliance with the direction and dictates of the religious temple (Akal Takhat). Further Hukumnama was issued to the Sikhs in particular to vote in favour of the candidates set up by such Seven-Member committee and the voters, therefore, had to vote under the fear of spiritual displeasure of the Gurus of the Sikhs. Such an issuance of the Hukumnama from the temple amounted to an interference in the free and fair exercise of the right of franchise by the electorate. It amounted to a disqualification incurred by the respondent who has been the beneficiary of the mantle of the religious restrain.'
19. The Contention of the earned counsel for the respondent, that as alleged in para reproduced above, the Akal Takhat constituted a Seven-Member Committee, which in turn selected the respondent as a candidate, appears to have merit. The Hukumnama was allegedly issued by the Akal Takhat to the Sikhs, in particular, to vote in favour of the candidate set up by the above said committee. Neither the Hukumnama nor its contents, argued the learned counsel for the respondent, have been produced. In other words a very material fact lacking is the consequence of the disobedience or non-compliance with the Hukumnama. It is the petitioner's own inference that the 'the voters' therefore, had to vote under the fear of the spiritual displeasure of the 'Gurus.' Learned counsel for the petitioners was unable to meet these contentions of the learned counsel for the respondent. Instead, he emphasised that the issuance of Hukumnama 'Amounted to an interference in the free ad fair exercise of the right of franchise by the electorate.' Without knowing the contents of the Hukumnama this inference cannot be deduced. Now the other important aspect of the matter is that an appeal by a candidate or his agent on the ground of his religion for the furtherance of the prospect of the election of the candidate has been laid down (3) of Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act. Learned counsel for the respondent illustrated by arguing that the respondent who is a Sikh, could be said to have committed this corrupt practice if he or his agent had made any appeal on the ground of his religion to the Sikhs that he (respondent) being a Sikhs, the Sikhs should vote for him. But such is not obviously the petitioner's case. Since the petitioner's allegations in Para 11 do not satisfy the essential ingredients of Section 123(3) of the Act, the question whether the Hukumnama was issued by an agent of the respondent need not be gone into.
20. In view of the discussion above, paragraph 4, 5, 6,10 and 11 of the election petition are struck off and issue No. 3 is decided accordingly.
21. As a result of my decision on issues Nos. 1 an 2, this election petition is hereby dismissed. The parties are, however, left to bear their own costs.
22. Order made accordingly.