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Babu Lal Vs. Sajjan Singh and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElection
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Appeal No. 1326 of 1969
Judge
Reported in(1970)3SCC303
ActsRepresentation of People Act, 1951 - Section 123(4)
AppellantBabu Lal
RespondentSajjan Singh and anr.
DispositionAppeal Dismissed
Excerpt:
- [ j.c. shah and; v. bhargava, jj.] -- representation of people act, 1951 (43 of 1951) — section 123(4) — corrupt practice in vilifying the character of a candidate at election — high court's finding upheld — that respondent had killed a worker (which was false) was enough to affect his chances in election -- babu lal has appealed to this court. among those who brought premdas to the hospital were motilal, hazarilal and the appellant babu lal. some witnesses were examined on behalf of babu lal to contradict the case of sajjan singh. some witnesses stated that they had heard a rumour about sajjan singh's jeep having knocked down premdas; others said they came to learn that premdas was injured. premdas has not been examined as a witness. dr pawar deposed that.....j.c. shah, j.1. at the general elections held in february, 1967, babu lal rathor — appellant in this appeal — was declared elected as a member of the madhya pradesh legislative assembly from the sanwer scheduled castes constituency. his election was challenged by sajjan singh (a defeated candidate) in a petition filed in the high court of madhya pradesh on several pleas including the plea that two of the agents of babu lal named moti lal and hazari lal had at about mid-day on february 20, 1967, made a statement relating to the conduct of sajjan singh which they knew to be false, viz. that sajjan singh had killed one premdas a worker for the jan sangh party and had asked their men to circulate that message in other villages with a view to dissuade the voters from exercising.....
Judgment:

J.C. SHAH, J.

1. At the general elections held in February, 1967, Babu Lal Rathor — appellant in this appeal — was declared elected as a member of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly from the Sanwer Scheduled Castes Constituency. His election was challenged by Sajjan Singh (a defeated candidate) in a petition filed in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh on several pleas including the plea that two of the agents of Babu Lal named Moti Lal and Hazari Lal had at about mid-day on February 20, 1967, made a statement relating to the conduct of Sajjan Singh which they knew to be false, viz. that Sajjan Singh had killed one Premdas a worker for the Jan Sangh party and had asked their men to circulate that message in other villages with a view to dissuade the voters from exercising their vote in favour of Sajjan Singh and that the rumour was started at the instance of and with the approval of Babu Lal; that thereby Babu Lal had published or his agents or other persons with his consent had published, a statement of fact which was false or which they believed to be false and did not believe to be true relating to the personal character and conduct of Sajjan Singh which was reasonably calculated to prejudice the prospects at the election and had thereby committed a corrupt practice described in Section 123(4) of the Representation of People Act, 1951. The details of the other pleas on which the election petition was filed need not be set out, because they were found not established by the High Court and no argument had been advanced before us relying upon those pleas.

2. The High Court of Madhya Pradesh held that Motilal and Hazarilal were workers of the Jan Sangh party and that they in conspiracy with Babu Lal set afloat a rumour at about mid-day on February 20, 1967, at Sanwer that respondent Sajjan Singh had knocked down Premdas with his jeep and had “finished him off by throwing a stone” and that they committed by setting afloat a “baseless rumour” a corrupt practice described in Section 123(4) and the election of the appellant Babu Lal must be set aside on that ground. Babu Lal has appealed to this Court.

3. February 20, 1967, was the date of polling of votes for the election. The town of Sanwer consists of two areas separated by a stream one area is known as Sanwer and the other as Keshripura. There was a polling station in each of the areas. Sajjan Singh averred in his election petition that he was informed at about mid-day on February 20, 1967, that Moti Lal and Hazari Lal, who were workers of the Jan Sangh party which had sponsored the appellant's election, were shouting in the town that “Vishnarji (respondent), had dashed his car on Premdas Baba of Keshripura. Some life was still left and Vishnar finished him off by throwing a stone” and that Moti Lal and Hazari Lal told their men “Go to all villages. Spread the news of this murder by Vishnar and ask people not to vote for the murderer”. It was the case of Babu Lal that Moti Lal and Hazari Lal had not published the statement attributed to them, and that the statement if proved was not made by his agents or with his consent.

4. To succeed in the petition Sajjan Singh had to establish that Babu Lal or his agents with his consent had published a statement of fact in relation to the personal character or conduct of Sajjan Singh, that he believed the statement to be false or did not believe it to be true, and that the statement was calculated to prejudice the prospects of the respondent at the election. The allegation that a candidate or his agent committed a corrupt practice is a grave charge, proof of which involves serious consequences. The charge must be established by clear and cogent evidence; mere preponderance of probability will not be regarded as sufficient to establish such a charge. If it be proved that Moti Lal and Hazari Lal had made the statements which are attributed to them, there can be no doubt that they related to the personal character and conduct of the respondent. There is also no evidence that Sajjan Singh had caused injuries to Premdas by knocking him down with his motor vehicle, or that Sajjan Singh had thrown a stone at him. It is also not the case that Motilal and Hazarilal had any reason to believe to be true the statement which it is said they made. It is the case of Babu Lal that they did not make the statement. It is also not disputed that the statement if proved to be made by Motilal and Hazarilal was reasonably calculated to prejudice the prospects of Sajjan Singh at the election.

5. Two incidents which took place on the polling day in the town of Sander may briefly be referred to. In the first incident Sajjan Singh was beaten up at all out mid-day by the supporters of the Jan Sangh party, the second was that Premdas a Jan Sangh worker was admitted to the local Hospital with no visible injuries on his person. The first incident, according to Sajjan Singh, occurred when he arrived at about mid-day at Sanwer, and desired to enter the polling booth to acquaint himself with his election prospects. He says that he found one Onkar Gavali going about on horseback and “creating panic among the voters” who had assembled for voting; that on raising an objection about the conduct of Onkar Gavali the latter and his associates started a quarrel with him and beat him and his sister Munnibai Chauhan, his son Rajendra and his driver Ghasiram and for which medical aid was rendered to the other injured persons. In the second incident which occurred at about 12.30 p.m. a crowd of the townsmen arrived at the local hospital bringing “on the carrier of a cycle” Premdas. Among those who brought Premdas to the hospital were Motilal, Hazarilal and the appellant Babu Lal. Dr Pawar who was in-charge of the Hospital found no visible injuries on the person of Premdas. He made a note in that behalf in the clinical register, but since Premdas complained of pain he — Premdas — was admitted to the Hospital, and allotted a bed as an indoor patent; Dr Pawar mentioned the usual observation charts regarding the temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, etc., at short intervals. These showed that Premdas did not suffer from mental excitement or thick. But Premdas insisted on staying in the hospital for 4-5 days. Premdas was advised to go to the District Hospital at Indore. Initially he declined to go, but thereafter on the 4th or the 5th day he was taken to the District Hospital at Indore on the insistence of Dr Pawar. A skiagram was taken, but it showed no internal injury.

6. It was contended before the High Court that after beating up Sajjan Singh, the supporters of Jan Sangh with the consent of Babu Lal “hatched a conspiracy” to create evidence that Sajjan Singh had caused serious injuries to Premdas and for that purpose they persuaded Premdas to pretend that he had been injured; that Premdas was taken to and admitted to the hospital though he had suffered no injury and that Motilal and Hazarilal — agents of Babu Lal — published a statement that Premdas had been knocked down by the jeep of Sajjan Singh and that Sajjan Singh had “finished Premdas off with a stone”. This false information was circulated not only in the town of Sanwer, but also circulated by the workers of the Jan Sangh party in several villages roundabout where the polling of votes was taking place.

7. The first incident has no direct bearing on the question whether Babu Lal was guilty of any corrupt practice, it neither forms a motive (nor is it connected with the events which took place in the village). We therefore do not think it necessary to examine the evidence in detail in connection with the story of Sajjan Singh in that behalf. It may suffice to say that there is evidence on the record to show that Sajjan Singh was examined by Dr Pawar and Dr Pawar had found some injuries on his person.

8. It is the second incident which has a vital bearing on the question whether the appellant or his agents or any person with his consent had afloat a false rumour that Premdas had been killed by a stone thrown by Sajjan Singh on his chest after Premdas had been knocked down by the jeep of Sajjan Singh. Babu Lal denied the story that any statement was made by Motilal and Hazari Lal on the date of polling. But at the trial no consistent case was adopted by the witnesses for Babu Lal. Babu Lal denied his presence in tile town of Sanwer at mid-day on February 20, 1967. Some of his witnesses said that they had heard a rumour that Premdas was knocked down by the jeep of Sajjan Singh; other witnesses denied that such a rumour was circulated and they asserted that “everything was as usual in the town of Sanwer” on the date of polling.

9. We may in the first instance refer to the oral evidence of the four witnesses for Sajjan Singh who deposed to what transpired in the town of Sanwer shortly after mid-day. Bhuribai, PW 11, who is a shoe-maker deposed that when she went to exercise her vote on the polling date at about 12 or 12.30 noon she heard Mangilal Kumawat, who came running near the voters, shouting “Do not vote for Vishnar (Sajjan Singh), who has crushed Premdas under his motor, and also by throwing a stone on him. They had locked up Vishnar. Do not vote for the murderer”. She further stated that she had heard the father of Premdas shouting Oh the murderer has killed my boy”, that a crowd ran after him shouting “murderer, murderer”, that she and others ran towards the town hospital; that she saw a crowd near an Imli tree in which Hazarilal Jain and Babu Lal were present, that Hazarilal was shouting “This murderer has killed Prem Baba (Premdas). Take whatever comes into your hands, run to all polling stations and spread the news”; that the crowd then went to the hospital and she too went with the crowd and that she saw Premdas lying on a cot in the hospital where people were asking Premdas as to what had happened and he was answering them.

10. Radhakisan Onkarji, PW 12, stated that on February 20, 1967, he heard Mangilal Kumawat shouting “why are you voting for Vishnar, Just now he has crushed Premdas the son of a Pujari with his motor car and has further finished him off with a stone”; that he — the witness — told Mangilal that the conduct was “atrocious”; that Mangilal then told him that incident had happened in his presence and that he had been asked by Hazarilal and Motilal to spread the news; and that Hazarilal said after calling some people “Go quickly from village to village and inform people”.

11. Badrinarayan, PW 18, stated that he heard Hazarilal Jain and Motilal shouting that Sajjan Singh had “knocked down Premdas with his jeep”; that “there was some life left and Vishnar finished him off by throwing a stone”; that they then addressed their men “Go to all the villages, spread the news of this murder by Vishnar and ask people not to vote for the murderer”; that the witness on seeing this commotion went back to his house without voting, but later in the afternoon when it was quieter he went to exercise his vote.

12. The last witness Lal Mohammed, PW 26, has stated that he heard at about 1.00 or 1.30 p.m. on the polling day that the first respondent had killed Premdas by knocking him down with his jeep and by throwing a stone at him; that in the large crowd that had assembled in the road the witness saw Hazarilal, Babu Lal, Motilal Jain and others.

13. The witnesses were cross-examined at great length.

14. Some witnesses were examined on behalf of Babu Lal to contradict the case of Sajjan Singh. Witness Motilal, RW 9, denied that he had made any “personal allegation” against Sajjan Singh; that on the polling day he was at Sanwer and that he did not go elsewhere; that he was at the polling booth that at about 12.30 or 1.00 p.m. Premdas came to him on a bicycle (—the “bicycle itself being pedalled by some one else”), and told him that he had been hit on his chest with a stone, that the witness got Premdas removed to the Hospital and that he and Dr Pawar had noticed injuries on the chest of Premdas. He denied that he had shouted that Sajjan Singh had killed Premdas by hitting him with a stone after the latter was knocked down by a jeep. He also denied that he had asked his workers to go to all the places and spread the news “that Vishnarji had killed Premdas” in that manner.

15. Hazarilal, PW 36, admitted that he was in the town of Sanwer on the election day on February 20, 1967; that till about 3.00 p.m. on that day he was persuading the voters to go to the polling booth; that when at about 3.00 p.m. he went into the Bazaar he heard that Premdas had been hit by a motor car; and that he went to the hospital and saw Dr Pawar who assured him that Premdas was being treated and there was no danger to his life. He denied having shouted in the town that Sajjan Singh had knocked down Premdas and had killed him with a stone.

16. Champalal Balaji, PW 6, stated that he had exercised his vote at about 1.30 p.m. and at that time “there was nothing unusual”. He deposed that the polling had passed off peacefully, that no attack was made either on Sajjan Singh or on Premdas. He even denied that he had seen a crowd near the hospital.

17. Onkarlal, RW 24, deposed principally to the story of the attack on Sajjan Singh and stated that when he returned to Sanwer at about 3.30 p.m. on February 20, 1967, to cast his vote he found that there was no commotion on that day. He said that he had not heard the rumour on the day of polling that Premdas was knocked down by the jeep of Sajjan Singh, but that he had heard it “later”.

18. Sheolal Mali, RW 26, claimed that at about 3.30 p.m. he went to exercise his vote, that so long as he was there he did not hear any shouting nor see any commotion and that the “things were going on peacefully and there was no disturbance”. In cross-examination he stated that he saw some four persons “taking” Premdas on a bicycle that there was a crowd following them; that he saw in the crowd Motilal but not Hazarilal and Babu Lal that he heard that Premdas had been knocked down but he did not learn as to who had knocked down Premdas, that people were shouting about this but he did not enquire how it happened and that he did not go to see Premdas.

19. Shanker Singh Panwalla, RW 27, also stated that he went to exercise his vote at 1.00 p.m. and he found “the conditions normal” and did not hear any shouting and did not see any “commotion” in the town.

20. Ram Bhau, RW 18, said that he went to Keshripura Polling Station at about 12 noon on the polling day and found “everything peaceful” and did not hear any shouting or any rumour. In cross-examination he admitted that he had heard at about 2.00 p.m. that Premdas had been “knocked down by Sajjan Singh's jeep” but he did not do anything about it nor did he make any enquiry from any one or from Premdas's father.

21. Nathulal, RW 19, deposed that he went to Keshripura Polling Station at about 1.30 p.m. and returned home at about 2.45 p.m., that there was “nothing unusual” and the polling went on peacefully, that he did not hear that Premdas had been injured but he added that when he went to Sanwer village at 4.30 p.m. he heard that Premdas had been knocked down by the jeep of Sajjan Singh.

22. Babulal Rathor, RW 38, denied that he was present in the town of Sanwer between 8.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. on February 20, 1967.

23. The evidence of witnesses on behalf of the appellant was purely negative. Some witnesses stated that they had heard a rumour about Sajjan Singh's jeep having knocked down Premdas; others said they came to learn that Premdas was injured. Sanwer is a small town with a population of about 4 to 5 thousands. There were, it is true, two polling stations, but it is difficult to believe that if Premdas was knocked down by a jeep and was then hit by a stone, the information would not have spread from mouth to mouth in the whole town.

24. This evidence in support of the respective cases of the two parties which we have summarised is not impressive. But there is other evidence which strongly corroborates the story of Sajjan Singh. There is first the oral evidence of Dr K.N. Pawar, PW 22. He is a man of education and of status and is apparently independent. The High Court has accepted his testimony and we see no reason after considering the criticism made at the Bar, not to accept the view taken by the High Court. The witness deposed that Premdas (whom he knew previously), was brought on a bicycle to the town hospital on February 20, 1967 at about 12.30 noon; that he examined Premdas and found that there was no evidence of any injury on the person of Premdas; that Premdas was kept under observation for further investigation till February 25, 1967; that on February 23, 1967, he asked Premdas to go to the M.Y. Hospital at Indore but Premdas refused to go, that he did not find any mark of injury on Premdas or any manifestation of internal injury. Dr Pawar tendered in evidence the entries posted by him in the Medical Register, Ext. P-3, temperature chart of Premdas, Ext. P-4, Daily Notes; Ext. P-5 the Injury Report. He also stated that he had seat a copy of the injury report to the police. The witness further stated that among the persons who had brought Premdas to the hospital he had recognised Motilal, Hazarilal and Babu Lal Rathor.

25. In Ext. P-2 a report, dated February 20, 1967, it is entered by Dr Pawar:

“Clinically there is no evidence of any injury on the body. He is kept in the Hospital under observation for further investigation and treatment”.

Time and date of admission was noted as 12.30 p.m., February 20, 1967, and the name of the patient is noted as Premdas, son of Ramchandradas. Exhibit P-3 is the “Temperature Chart” of Premdas which showed the temperature varying between 98° and 97° and pulse rate per minute varying between 78 and 84. Respiration per minute was constant at 20. In the “Bed-head ticket” No. 32 the following entries were made:

“Person complains. He is admitted in the Hospital with history of injury on his chest. Grand Ex. He is very nervous and afraid of. Local Examination : Apparently there is no injury on his body.”

Blood pressure on February 20, 1967, was 120.80 and the pulse rate varied between 78 and 84. The treatment given is also set out. It appears that belladona was applied and a bandage was tied on the chest.

26. Exhibit P-4 contains the “Daily Notes of treatment”. These also do not disclose any abnormality arising from severe injury. On February 25, 1967, it was noted that the patient was “better” and he was referred to the M.Y. Hospital, Indore, for taking a skiagram of the chest. From the skiagram taken on February 25, 1967, it is clear that Premdas had suffered no internal injury. In the view of Dr Pawar between February 20 and 25, 1967, Premdas was in “normal health” and that no injuries — external or internal — were seen or detected on his body.

27. Premdas has not been examined as a witness. Physical condition of Premdas as observed by Dr Pawar may lead to an inference that ‘he may have been roughly handled by some persons, but no visible injuries were caused to him and that he was taken to the hospital and made to stay there for a period of 4 to 5 days though it was not necessary that he should be kept as an indoor patient in the hospital. It may be inferred that Premdas had suffered no injury and that he with a view to further the election prospects of Babu Lal malingered that he bad suffered injury and shock and remained in the hospital in pursuance of a conspiracy.

28. Counsel for the appellant contended with some vehemence that when belladona was applied and a bandage was tied on the chest of Premdas, it must “be presumed” that the patient had suffered serious injuries and Dr Pawar was not telling the truth when he said that there were no injuries on the person of Premdas. The learned trial Judge who saw the witnesses has considered their evidence. We cannot tightly ignore his views on the credibility of Dr Pawar. We have been taken through the entire record of the testimony of important witnesses and we see no reason to hold that Dr Pawar is guilty of making false entries in Exs. P-2, P-3 and P-4 to support the case of Sajjan Singh.

29. It may be possible on the evidence to infer as the learned trial Judge has inferred, that there was a conspiracy between Babu Lal, his workers Motilal, Hazarilal and others to create an appearance that Premdas was seriously injured, to get him admitted in the hospital and then to start a rumour that Premdas was injured by the jeep of Sajjan Singh and was hit by a stone on the chest and killed. The learned trial Judge who reached the conclusion that there was such a conspiracy. It is unnecessary for the purpose of the present case, however, to decide whether there was in fact such a conspiracy. If the statement was made by Motilal and Hazarilal, the plea of corrupt practice under Section 123(4) will be made out, for it cannot, and has not been contended that the persons responsible for making the statement could have believed the statement to be true.

30. The facts proved are that Premdas was, admitted to the hospital, that there were no signs of external injury on his body that his condition on the day he was admitted to the Hospital and for several days thereafter was normal; that he remained in the Hospital for five days; and that on examination he was not found to have any internal injury. Dr Pawar deposed that among the persons who brought Premdas to the hospital were Hazarilal, Motilal and Babu Lal the appellant.

31. Four witnesses on behalf of the first respondent have deposed that Motilal and Hazarilal were shouting that Sajjan Singh had “knocked down” Premdas with his jeep and had killed him with a stone, but Premdas was apparently in normal health and without any injuries on his person. That is established beyond reasonable doubt by the evidence of Dr Pawar. The rumour was therefore false. Motilal and Hazarilal had accompanied Premdas to the Hospital. They had also seen him in the Hospital after he was admitted as an indoor patient. The rumour was started by them that Premdas was killed by Sajjan Singh could not have been believed by them to be true. Hazarilal and Motilal denied having started such a rumour. Several witnesses examined on behalf of Babu Lal had accepted that they had heard on the same day the rumour that Premdas had been knocked down by the jeep of Sajjan Singh. There is on the record no evidence that Premdas was injured by a jeep on February 20, 1967, or that he was hit with a stone. In this state of the oral evidence documentary evidence on which reliance be placed is of very great importance.

32. Exhibit P-7 is a letter, dated December 12, 1968, written by the Medical Officer, Sanwer, to the Station Officer, intimating that Premdas was admitted to the hospital “for the injuries” and that he was being treated there for the same.

33. Exhibit P-12 is a letter sent by Motilal Jain to the Inspector, Police Station, Sanwer, observing:

“I, ... Vice President of District Jan Sangh, Indore, Tehsil Sanwer, hereby inform you that Premdas, a member of our executive, has been attacked by Vishnar Saheb and his associates by stones, today, the 20th February, 1967, at about 1 p.m. between Ketkaya Nake XI Rapat and Tehsil Office near Imli tree. The attackers were about 15 to 20 strong. On account of the above attack for attempt to murder, that executive member, Premdas, is at present in the Government Hospital, Sanwer. It is requested that adequate immediate action may please be taken against attempts of attack, etc., so that the work of election may be completed peacefully. It is submitted that like this there is danger to our other workers as well.”

The Station Officers Sanwer, addressed a letter in the afternoon of February 20, 1967, acknowledging receipt of the letter relating to the admission of Premdas to the hospital and enquired:

“What is the condition of Premdas now and whether he has made any statement to you as to who has inflicted injury upon him and when, And whether there is any necessity of taking any Dying Declaration from him? If the necessity is there whether he is in a condition to make a statement. Kindly give the report urgently.”

In reply the Medical Officer stated:

“It is submitted that I cannot say as to who has inflicted injury, upon him (Premdas). His condition is now alright. There is no necessity of Dying Declaration. He is now in a condition to make a statement. You can ascertain from him about every thing.”

34. Motilal deposed to a story regarding his part in the writing of a letter Ext. P-12 to the Inspector, Police Station, Sanwer which was transparently false. In para 12 of his deposition he stated that whatever he had mentioned in his report to the police (Ext. P-12), was based on what Premdas had told him and not on what he himself had seen. He further stated that at the hospital he saw Sheonarayan a worker of his party and that he had in the presence of ten or twelve persons asked Sheonarayan to write the report. Later on Sheonarayan brought the report to him and he signed it. He denied that he handed over the report to the police after 4.00 p.m. He said that he had handed over the report at about 1.00 or 1.30 p.m. He further stated in Paragraph 17 that the did not verify the truth of what Premdas had told him. The witness then stated that Premdas had told him that—

“I was coming here when Vishnar's car came. It knocked me down. I got up and tried to run away. Then six or seven people threw stones at me. A stone hit me on the chest.”

The story of Motilal that he did not draft the report and that it was dictate; by Premdas and was taken down by Sheonarayan cannot be true. It appears that Premdas was a man without much education and in an humble walk of life. It is difficult to believe that a report containing the details with the sequence therein could have been dictated by Premdas when he was in the hospital and according to Motilal he had suffered serious injuries. There no reliable-evidence on the record that Sheonarayan wrote the report to the dictation of Premdas. It is difficult also to believe that Motilal signed it without verifying the correctness of the statements made in the letter. The letter is not in the form of an information received from Premdas but on the personal knowledge of Motilal. His statement in cross-examination as to what Premdas told him clearly shows that Motilal was responsible for setting afloat a rumour that Sajjan Singh had knocked down Premdas and had killed him by throwing a stone.

35. The story that Premdas was injured by the jeep of Sajjan Singh and hit with a stone on the chest and killed is inconsistent with the medical evidence. The letter Ext. P-12 viewed in the light of the statement of Dr Pawar, which we regard as reliable, strongly establishes the case of Sajjan Singh and supports the testimony of the witnesses examined on his behalf that Motilal had published the rumour. That story is corroborated by the contents of Ext. P-12 and what Motilal himself stated in his evidence. It appears that Motilal and Hazarilal were jointly carrying on election propaganda on behalf of the Jan Sangh party on the day in question and if Motilal was responsible for setting afloat a rumour, it would not be difficult to believe that Hazarilal also was responsible for setting afloat that rumour. We agree with the conclusion of the High Court summarised in para 45 of the judgment under appeal that the witnesses examined on behalf of Sajjan Singh were telling the truth that Hazarilal was shouting and asking his men to go to the villages to spread the news, because the plan was to give the story about the death of Premdas at the hand of Sajjan Singh as much publicity as was possible. We also agree with the High Court that Motilal was responsible for the publication of the rumour.

36. A number of witnesses were examined by Sajjan Singh to prove that the agents of the Jan Sangh party had published the story in several villages that the first respondent had killed Premdas. It is unnecessary to refer to the evidence of those witnesses in detail. The learned Judge of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh has examined their evidence at some length and has come to the conclusion that the story about publication of the rumour in those villages was also proved.

37. The next question is whether the appellant was responsible for the publication. Counsel for Babu Lal contended that the story that the appellant was present at the time when Premdas was brought to the hospital or at any time thereafter is false and should not be accepted. Dr Pawar has however deposed that the appellant was present at the time when Premdas was admitted to the hospital. It is true that according to Dr Pawar's testimony that Babu Lal had entered the hospital, but that he was seen in the crowd near the hospital. Two of the witnesses examined on behalf of Sajjan Singh have also deposed that Babu Lal was in the crowd. These witnesses are Lal Mohammed and Buribai. Babu Lal denied his presence between 8.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. on February 20, 1967, in the town of Sanwer. The High Court has accepted the testimony of Dr Pawar and the witnesses for Sajjan Singh that Babu Lal was present in the town and he was also in the crowd which followed when he was taken to the hospital. Babu Lal was a prominent person in the town on the day in question, and his presence in the town and on the occasion of Premdas being taken to the hospital would be noticed. We have carefully considered the criticism submitted by counsel for Babu Lal in great detail seeking to highlight minor discrepancies and circumstances which were characterised as improbable, in the evidence of the witnesses for Sajjan Singh. We are unable to disagree with the view of the High Court that Babu Lal was present in the crowd which followed Premdas to the hospital on the polling day. The conclusion inevitably follows that the statements made by Motilal and Hazarilal that Premdas was killed by Sajjan Singh were false and that they were made with the consent of Babu Lal. It is in the circumstances unnecessary to consider whether the statements were made in pursuance of a conspiracy between Babu Lal, Motilal, Hazarilal and others. The question whether Motilal and Hazarilal were election or other agents of Babu Lal loses all significance.

38. We have carefully considered the argument advanced by counsel for the appellant who invited our attention to minute discrepancies and laid great stress upon improbabilities and subjected the evidence of the witnesses for Sajjan Singh to severe criticism. We are unable to disagree with the view taken by the High Court that it was with the consent of the appellant Babu Lal that Motilal and Hazarilal had spread a rumour relating to the personal character and conduct of the first respondent which was reasonably calculated to prejudice his prospects at the election.

39. The appeal therefore fails and is dismissed with costs.


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