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Prakash Vir Shastri and ors. Vs. Union of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ No. 179 of 1971
Judge
Reported inAIR1974Delhi1
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 14, 226, 227, 266 and 266(3)
AppellantPrakash Vir Shastri and ors.
RespondentUnion of India and ors.
Appellant Advocate K.C. Sharma,; J.K. Jain and; K.L. Rathee, Advs
Respondent Advocate Niren De, Attorney General, ; O. P. Malhotra, Sr. Central Govt. Counsel, ;
Cases Referred(See Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Justice S. R. Tendolkar
Excerpt:
(i) constitution of india - article 226 --enquiry under --nature of --use of aircraft etc., for election purposes by prime minister neither against public interests nor unreasonable --salaries and allowances of ministers act (1952) - section 6. ; that the impugned orders and directions about the use of iaf aircraft by the prime minister for non-official including election purposes cannot be held to be unreasonable. a person, who holds the office of prime minister, has a dual capacity. he is the head of the government and at the same time is the leader of a political party. when that person goes out for purposes of the political party in connection with the election, he does not cease to be a prime minister and does not get divested of his power and responsibility to deal with the.....h.r. khanna, c.j.1. in this petition under articles 226 and 227 of the constitution of india, shri prakash vir shastri and four others have prayed for the following reliefs against the union of india and six others: -'(i) that an appropriate writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus, prohibition or certiorari or in such other form as this hon'ble court may deem fit and proper for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the petitioners and for preventing the respondents from using or allowing the use of the government machinery for the purposes of furtherance of the prospects of the candidates of the ruling party be issued. (ii) that the respondents be restrained from using or permitting the use of the government aircrafts, cars, jeeps by the leaders of the ruling party.....
Judgment:

H.R. Khanna, C.J.

1. In this petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India, Shri Prakash Vir Shastri and four others have prayed for the following reliefs against the Union of India and six others: -

'(i) That an appropriate Writ, Order or Direction in the nature of Mandamus, Prohibition or Certiorari or in such other form as this Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the petitioners and for preventing the Respondents from using or allowing the use of the Government machinery for the Purposes of furtherance of the prospects of the candidates of the ruling party be issued.

(ii) That the Respondents be restrained from using or Permitting the use of the Government aircrafts, cars, Jeeps by the leaders of the ruling party except when they go on tours exclusively for official purposes.

(iii) That a further direction may be issued that during the Pendency of the writ petition, no public meetings shall be organized at Public expense and if in the public interest any such public meeting is essential, then the same shall not be permitted to be used for any political or election speech.

(iv) That a further direction may be issued that no Government personnel will be made available to the leaders of the ruling party on their election tours except when they go on tour exclusively for a public purpose.

(v) That a further direction may be issued to the Respondents that the Directorate of Audio-Visual Publicity should not publish and/or distribute any publicity material during the election period.

(vi) That a further direction may be issued that the All India Radio and Television should not carry on Propaganda in favor of the ruling party while ignoring other political parties and that equal time should be allotted to all political parties for projecting their policies before the masses as has been Proposed by the Election Commission of India.

(vii) That such other appropriate order or direction may be issued as may be deemed fit and proper by this Hon'ble Court in the circumstances of this case.

(viii) That the cost of this petition be awarded in favor of the petitioners.'

2. According to the petitioners, they are the office-bearers of the Bhartiya Kranti Dal, Bhartiya Jan Sangh, Swatantra Party of India, the Samyukta Socialist Party of India and the Indian National Congress, which are all political Parties having been recognised as National Parties by the Election Commission of India and are deeply interested in the enforcement of fundamental rights of all the candidates as well as the electorate of the country. The Petitioners have filed the Present Petition in their capacity as the office-bearers of the political Parties and in their individual capacities. The five petitioners, as given in the Petition, are as under:

'1. Shri Prakash Vir Shastri, former Member Parliament, General Secretary Bhartiya Kranti Dal, 1 Canning Lane New Delhi.

2. Shri Sunder Singh Bhandari, Member Parliament, General Secretary, Bhartiya Jan Sangh, New Delhi.

3. Shri Daya Bhai Patel, Member Parliament, Leader of the Swatantra Party in the Rajya Sabha. New Delhi.

4. Shri S. Venkataram. Joint Secretary, Samyukta Socialist Party. 16. Vithal Bhai Patel House, Rafi Marg, New Delhi.

5. Shri S. D. Misra. Member Parliament. General Secretary. All India Congress Committee of the Indian National Congress, 7, Jantar Mantar Road. New Delhi.'

The following have been imp leaded as respondents:-

'1. Union of India, through the Cabinet Secretary, Government of India, New Delhi.

2. Government of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs, through the Home Secretary, Government of India, New Delhi'.

3. Government of India in the Ministry of defense, through the defense Secretary, Government of India, New Delhi.

4. Government of India in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting through the Secretary. Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, New Delhi.

5. The Election Commission of India, through the Secretary, Election Commission of India, Talkatora Road, New Delhi.

6. Smt. Indira Gandhi, former Member of the Lok Sabha and Leader of the Political Party presided over by Shri Jagjivan Ram, 1. Safdarjung Road, New Delhi.

7. Shri Jagjivan Ram, President of the Political Party having its office at 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi.'

3. The case of the petitioners is that respondents 6 and 7 are the leaders of the Political Party, which is the Ruling Party at the centre. After the general elections of 1967, Shrimati Indira Gandhi, respondent No. 6, became the Prime Minister of India as she was elected the leader of the Congress Party in Parliament, which party had an absolute majority in the Lok Sobha. In October 1969 it is stated, respondent No. 6 was expelled from the Indian National Congress, and that party to elect a new leader called upon the Congress Party in the Parliament. Respondent No. 6 was able to establish a Party of her own and though she could not have an absolute majority, she was able to muster the support of certain other political Parties, like the Communist Party of India, the Muslim League, the Akali Dal and the Dravida Munetra Kazam and thus she continued to be the Prime Minister of India. She was able to carry on the Government till December 1970. Although the general elections were normally due in 1972, respondent No. 6 with an ulterior purpose advised the President to dissolve the Lok Sabha. At the time the Lok Sabha was dissolved respondent No. 6 took the stand that she wanted the mandate of the People in fulfillling her policies, which she was not being allowed to do. As, according to the Petitioners, the Ruling Party and the Opposition parties for the first time after the enforcement of the Constitution had evenly balanced strength in the last Lok Sabha, the ensuing midterm poll has become hotly contested. In the above surcharged atmosphere the petitioners assert. it has become very important that the State or the Government is not allowed to use its machinery for the benefit of any Political party and whatever facilities are provided by the State or the Government machinery to Ruling Party, should be Provided on the same terms and conditions to the other political parties.

4. Further according to the petitioners, respondents 6 and 7 as also other Ministers in their Government and the members belonging to the Ruling Party are using the Government machinery for the purposes of furthering the prospects of their party candidates inter alia, in the following manner: -

a) Government aircrafts are being made available to the above-mentioned persons on a nominal payment which if calculated properly does not come even to less than 1% of the actual cost incurred by the Government in providing that facility.

b) Government cars and jeeps are being provided to the aforesaid persons while they are proceeding on election campaign in favor of their party.

c) Meetings at heavy public expense are arranged by the Government or Government controlled bodies, ostensibly for official purposes, but the timings and frequency of which in proximity with the elections and the Political speeches made by these Persons at such meetings leave no room for doubt that official public meetings are nothing but a cloak for misuse of the official machinery and public funds for furthering their interests and those of their party candidates.

d) Government personnel are being provided to the abovementioned person; at the cost of public exchequer when they are proceeding on election campaign for their party candidates.

e) The All India Radio and Television, which are government agencies for publicity, are actively carrying on Propaganda in favor of the Ruling Party while ignoring other Political parties.

f) The Directorate of Audio-visual Publicity is publishing large number of brochures. pamphlets booklets, posters etc., at Government expense, ostensibly for the purposes of publishing Government policies, but in fact making propaganda in favor of the Ruling Party and with the object of building the image of Shrimati Indira Gandhi as an individual National Leader.'

5. The petitioners have given some details in support of the above allegations. It is also stated that the Election Commission made a proposal on December 7, 1970 to all the political Parties that some formula should be arrived at by which time should be allotted to the various political parties for projecting their policies to the masses through the media of the All India Radio While Practically all the Political parties agreed generally with the suggestion of the Election Commission, the Ruling Party put obstacles in allotting equal time to all political parties on the All India Radio. The effect of that was that the political parties, which were opposed to the Ruling Party, could not get the advantage of publicity through the All India Radio.

6. Protests against the above acts of the respondents it is stated. were made by leaders of Practically all the parties from time to time. When there was no proper response, the leaders of various parties sent a memorandum to the Government of India through the Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was demanded in that memorandum that in the interest of Purity of elections, fairness and in keeping with the Constitution, the Government machinery should not be made available to the Ruling Party in any manner for the Purpose of furtherance of the Prospects of that party. It was further claimed that if the Government was of the view that it could be done legitimately, in that case the other Political parties should also be given equal opportunity in fighting the elections and the Government should provide the same facilities on the same terms to the leaders of the opposition parties as were being provided to the leaders of the Ruling Party. The Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs in his reply dated January 30, 1971 stated that the Government did not permit the use of its machinery by political parties including the Ruling Party for election purposes and as such the question of discrimination did not arise. The use of Air Force Planes by the Prime Minister, according to that reply, was not a new facility and the same had been extended to the incumbent of this office since the First General Election in 1952. The facility, it was stated, was made available to the incumbent of the office of Prime Minister and not as leader of the Ruling Party. The facilities to the Prime Minister and other Ministers were also stated to be in public interest in as much as they were required to continue to deal with official work even when they were on tours. The publicity media of the Government, it was added, were being used only in a normal way and not in favor of any political party including the Ruling Party. The petitioners have controverter the stand taken by the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and have stated that the practice of the use of Air Force Planes by the Prime minister cannot get the approval of law unless the law Permits it. In the garb of providing facilities in public interest, the Government according to the petitioners cannot be permitted to put the Ruling Party in an obvious advantage against the other Parties in the election. The Government of India, the Petitioners claim by allowing the use of Government machinery to the leaders of Ruling Party and by denying the use of that machinery to the leaders of the other political parties, is violating the concept of equality before law as enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution. The above act of the Government is also stated to affect Prejudicially the purity of elections.

7. At the time the petition was admitted, the case was ordered to be heard by a Full Bench.

8. The petitioners in support of the petition have filed the affidavit of Shri S. D. Misra petitioner. The respondents have resisted the petition. On behalf of respondents 1 to 3. Shri K. R. Prabhu. Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs has filed his affidavit. Shri Prabhu has also relied upon the affidavits of Shri Ram Narain, Secretary. Haryana State Electricity Board and Shri R. S. Mehra, Superintending Engineer. Loharu Canal Circle. Rohtak. which have been filed along with Shri Prabhu's affidavit. Shri K. L. Sharma, Joint Director. News Services Division, All India Radio, Shri N. L. Chawla. Director Telephone Centre All India Radio and Shri Henry joseph D'Penha, Director of Advertising and Visual Publicity, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have filed affidavits on behalf of respondent No. 4. Shri A. N. Sen, Secretary, Election Commission of India have filed affidavit on behalf of respondent No. 5. Shri Uma Shanker Dixit. General Secretary, All India Congress Committee, has filed affidavit on behalf of respondent No. 7. In rejoinder, the Petitioners have filed affidavit of Shri Venkatram, Joint Secretary, and Samyukta Socialist Party.

9. We have heard Mr. K. C. Sharma on behalf of the Petitioners, the Attorney General on behalf of respondents 1 to 4. Mr. Kirpal on behalf of respondent No. 5, Mr. Daphtary on behalf of respondent No. 6 and Mr. Misra on behalf of respondent No. 7. So far as the allegation of the petitioners that respondent No.6 was expelled from the Indian National Congress is concerned Shri Uma Shanker Dixit has stated in his affidavit that the alleged expulsion was illegal and unconstitutional, and the same is the subject matter of a suit now pending in this Court. Shri Dixit has also denied that respondent No. 6 established any political party of her own. According to him, respondent No. 6, after the split in the Congress Party continues to be the leader of that Party and the other political Parties supported respondent No. 6 as Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha whenever they chose to do so.

10. It is the common case of the Parties that a split took Place in the Indian National Congress, and Mr.Sharma on behalf of the petitioners, has frankly stated that this Court in this writ petition is not concerned with the events connected with the split in the Indian National Congress and thus need not express any opinion in the matter. It is also obvious that in the context of the relief sought by the Petitioners in this petition, this Court is not concerned with the considerations, which weighed with respondent No. 6 in recommending the dissolution of Lok Sabha. Mr. Sharma has rightly conceded this and has not addressed any arguments on that score.

11. The first contention advanced on behalf of the petitioners relates to the use of Government aircrafts by Shrimati Indira Gandhi. respondent No 6. for election Purposes. So far as Shri Jagjivan Ram respondent No. 7 is concerned, the affidavit of Shri Dixit is to the effect that respondent No. 7 has never used Air Force aircrafts for Congress party work. The other Central Ministers cannot use such aircrafts for non-official Purposes. There is also no material on the record to show that apart from the Prime Minister the other Ministers have been allowed to use Government aircrafts for election purposes.

12. As regards the use of Iaf aircrafts by the Prime Minister, the affidavit of Shri Prabhu shows that a Committee under the Chairmanship of Shri N. R. Pillai, the then Cabinet Secretary was appointed by the Government of India in July, 1951, to consider the question as to whether there was need for special aircraft to transport Very Important Persons, and, if so, who should be entitled to travel by such aircraft and on what terms and conditions. Prior to the appointment of that Committee there were regulations governing travels of VIPs by Iaf aircraft. The Pillai Committee felt that apart from historical reasons, which led the Iaf to maintain a special Vip Flight, there was need for separate aircraft for the use of V1Ps and that such need must be recognised in this country as it has been in others. Under the then existing regulations the persons entitled to use the Iaf Vip aircraft were the President the Prime Minister, the defense Minister, the Deputy Minister of defense and the Commanders-in-Chief of the three Services. In its interim report submitted on October 17 1951, the Committee recommended the use of Iaf aircrafts by, Inter alia, the President and the Prime Minister. On October 20, 1951, the Government of India regarding the use of Iaf aircrafts by the Prime Minister issued a Press Note. It was stated, during the course of the Press Note:

'The Prime Minister in his capacity as the leader of his political party, has recently had, and will in future continue to have, occasion to undertake journeys by air for other than official purposes. The nature of the journey on such occasions is different from normal official tours, but the Prime Minister cannot on this account divest himself for the period of the journey of his position and responsibilities as head of the Government. The business of the Government never comes to a standstill, and the Prime Minister is never off duty. Whatever the character of the journey performed by him the need for eliminating delays in travel, for providing facilities. for the transaction of official business during the journey and for making suitable security arrangements remains unchanged. It is, thereforee considered advisable that even for journeys by air for other than official purposes, the Prime Minister should as far as possible, travel by Iaf aircraft.'

The Pillai Committee submitted, its final report on May 20. 1953, incorporating, inter alia. The recommendations contained in the interim report. Pursuant to the said interim report, the Government of India issued an office memorandum dated December 3. 1951, regarding the use of Iaf aircrafts by, inter alia. The Prime Minister after the submission of the final report by the Pillai Committee, the Government of India in the Ministry of defense, issued office memoranda from time to time regarding the use of Iaf aircrafts by the Prime Minister and others. The latest office memorandum incorporating the orders of the President was issued on August 17. 1968. A summary of the present position regarding the use of Iaf aircraft by the Prime Minister as would appear from the affidavit of Shri Prabhu, is as under:

(a) Iaf aircraft is to be used on official duty only. In the case of the Prime Minister it is necessary that, even on occasions when he/she has to undertake journeys mainly for reasons other than official duty. he/she should be able to travel by Iaf aircraft for the due performance of his/her duties as the head of the Government as well as for reasons of security.

(b) The Prime Minister has full discretion to take any passengers as considered necessary by the Prime Minister for the purpose of the Prime Minister's journey.

(c) The Prime Minister is entitled to take with the Prime Minister the Prime Minister's personal staff in the Iaf aircraft by which the Prime Minister travels.

(d) No charges are recoverable for the use of Iaf aircraft by the Prime Minister when the Prime Minister travels on official duty.

(e) When the Prime Minister travels otherwise than on official duty, the Prime Minister will pay the Prime Ministers own fare and the fares of the members of the Prime Ministers party in the Iaf aircraft, other than the official personnel entitled to draw traveling allowance, are recoverable from such members of the party. The fares payable will be calculated at commercial rates if the destination is linked by regular commercial air service and in other cases at the rate of 33 Paise Per statute mile for each passenger. The said rate was fixed after taking into consideration commercial passenger fares. So far as the defense Minister is concerned, he is entitled to the use of Iaf aircraft for official purpose only.

13. Shri Prabhu has further stated in the course of his affidavit that the position and responsibility of the Prime Minister are such that the business of the Government of India cannot be carried on unless delays in the Prime Minister's travels are eliminated and facilities are provided for the transaction of official business during her journeys from the capital. This has been made Possible by allowing the Prime Minister the use of Iaf aircraft in her journeys. The security of the person of the Prime Minister also makes it essential that she should use the Iaf aircraft. Respondent No. 6 according to the affidavit of Shri Prabhu, has been using the Government aircraft in accordance with the office memorandum dated August 17. 1968. The Press correspondents accompanying the Prime Minister on her unofficial tours have also to pay their own fares at the rates prescribed in the aforesaid memorandum.

14. Questions about the use of Government aeroplanes for election purposes by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who, besides being the Prime Minister held the office of the Congress President were asked in Parliament on February 6, 1952. The prime Minister then stated in reply to the questions that travel in the Iaf aircraft was a simpler and less expensive method of travel for him. traveling by other means involved a number of difficulties under the existing rules. The Prime Minister further stated that an official Committee had been appointed to consider the question and the Comptroller & Auditor-General of India had been consulted before a decision was taken. A Press Note dated October 20, 1951 was thereafter issued. It was also added that if the Prime Minister were to travel in commercial planes the actual arrangement to be made in such planes at the time of his arrival would make it more expensive.

15. We have given the matter our consideration and are of the opinion that the relevant orders and directions about the use of Iaf aircraft by the Prime Minister for non-official including election Purposes cannot be held to be unreasonable. A Person, who holds the office of Prime Minister, has a dual capacity. He is the head of the Government and at the same time is the leader of a Political Party. When that Person goes out for Purposes of the political party in connection with the election he does not cease to be a Prime Minister and does no get divested of his power and responsibility to deal with the administrative matters. The business of the Government does not come to a standstill and the Prime Minister continues to function as head of the Government during such tours. For the effective discharge of his duties, it is essential in public interest that the delays in his travel be eliminated and suitable arrangements be for the personal security of the Prime Minister. These considerations would hold equally good whether the Prime Minister goes out on tour for official business or for non-official party work. The provision about the use of Government aircraft by the Prime Minister is not to be considered as bestowing a personal favor upon the holder of that office. It is conceived Primarily in Public and national interests. As things are in the Present case we find that the affidavit of Shri Prabhu shows that respondent No. 6 whenever she is away from Delhi has to be contacted Practically everyday and has to transact official business on the spot wherever she may be with the assistance of the officials who accompany her. The affidavit further shows that during the period from January 13, 1971 to February 4, 1971, the Prime Minister had to be contacted from the Secretariat in Delhi everyday and sometimes more than once in a day in connection with the official work and the official Papers were sent to her everyday to be dealt with by her.

16. We are not impressed by the argument advanced on behalf of the petitioners that if the Prime Minister were to use other means of transport the cost would be less. The reply of Pandit Nehru in answer to questions in the Lok Sabha of February 6 1952, shows that if the Prime Minister were to travel in commercial planes the actual arrangements to be made in such Planes would make the travel much more expensive. It is also obvious that if the Prime Minister were to travel by road to distant places, the security arrangements, which would have to be made all through the route, would put much greater burden on the public exchequer.

17. It is no doubt true that the person holding the office of the Prime Minister because of the use of aeroplane and helicopter gets an advantage of greater mobility for doing party work during elections compared to the leaders of the other political parties, but this, in the nature of things cannot be helped. Every classification in the ultimate analysis has the effect of putting those who fall within that classification in more and sometimes less ad vantageous position compared to others who do not fall within that classification, but as long as that classification is reasonable and does not infringe Article 14 of the Constitution, it cannot be struck down. If the impugned memo randum about the use of Iaf aircraft by the Prime Minister for non-official pur poses is held to be in public interest, the fact that the Prime Minister gets the advantage of greater mobility during election times compared to leaders of other Political parties would not justify the striking down of that memorandum. The privilege of traveling in Iaf aircrafts conferred upon the Prime Minister for non-official work cannot be taken away during the election period because the privilege is essentially conferred in public interest. The business of the Government continues and does not come to a standstill even in election days and the reasons, which led to the creation of that privilege, do not cease to be valid during the election days. It would also be not reasonable to expect that the Prime Minister in spite of being the leader of the political party should eschew election tours simply be cause such tours would necessitate the use of Iaf aircrafts.

18. Shri Sharma also submits that situation wherein the leader of the ruling Party has the advantage of greater mobility during election times cannot be considered to be ideal. This may be so, but this Court in our opinion, can interfere in a writ Petition only if there is an infraction of law. If no such infraction were proved the creation or existence of a situation, which cannot be considered to be ideal, would not justify the invocation of the writ jurisdiction of this Court.

19. Mr. Sharma has referred to clause (6) of Article 75 of the Constitution according to which the salaries and allowances of Ministers shall be such as Parliament may from time to time by law determine and until Parliaments so determines, shall be as specified in the Second Schedule. The Salaries and Allowances of Ministers Act, 1952 (Act 58 of 1952) was thereafter enacted by Parliament. According, to Section 6 of that Act, a Minister shall be entitled to traveling and daily allowances in respect of the tours undertaken by him in the discharge of his official duties whether by sea, land or air. It is also provided that any traveling allowance under that section may be paid in cash or free Official transport provided in lieu thereof. The Minister's (Allowances, Medical Treatment and Other Privileges) Rules 1957 have been framed under the above-mentioned Act. According to Rule 2 (vii) of those Rules, 'traveling allowance' means an allowance granted to a Minister to cover the expenses which he incurs in traveling in the interests of the public service as against traveling in Personal interest or for private purpose, such as journeys for rest or recoupment of health or for attending party meetings or for election campaign. It is urged by Mr. Sharma that the above-mentioned provisions forbid the grant of any allowance to a Minister for journey undertaken for election campaign and as such the Prime Minister is not entitled to use Iaf air craft. The order incorporated in the office memorandum dated 17-8-1968, is according to Mr. Sharma, in conflict with the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers Act and the Rules framed there under. There is in our opinion, no force in the above contention. traveling allowance is paid to a Minister essentially to reimburse him for the expenses incurred by him in traveling for the discharge of his official duties. The Prime Minister Plainly does not receive any traveling allowance because of the journeys under taken by her for election Purposes. The use of Government aircraft by the Prime Minister can also be not considered to be an allowance granted to the Prime Minister. As stated above the provision about the use of the Government aircraft by the Prime Minister for her non-official tours has been made in public interest. It would be wrong to equate the privileges allowed to the Prime Minister in the public interest with allowances as contemplated by the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers Act, 1952. The aforesaid Act, as is made manifest by its different Provisions deals with salaries and residence of Ministers. Sumptuary, traveling and daily allowances admissible to them, their medical treatment and the advances to them for purchase of motorcars.

20. Argument has been advanced that the facility of allowing other Persons of the Prime Minister's choice as well as the Press Correspondents to travel in the same aircraft as the Prime Minister is liable to be abused and exploited for party ends. In this respect, we find that according to the relevant orders and instructions such other persons traveling with a Prime Minister on non-official tour have to pay at the prescribed rate. No Particulars have been given and there is no material on the record to show that the Provision in this respect has been misused and as such violates Article 14. It is well-established that when a citizen wants to challenge the validity of any statute or other provision on the ground that it contravenes Article 14, specific, clear and unambiguous allegations must be made in that behalf. See in this connection V. S. Rice and Oil Mills v. State of Andhra Pradesh etc., Air 1954 Sc 1781.

21. The rate at which I he Prime Minister is changed for traveling in the Iaf aircraft for non-official work has also been assailed by Mr. Sharma as being too low. The material on the record, however, is too scanty to enable this Court to express any opinion about the propriety of the rates. It is also difficult to accede to the contention of Mr. Sharma that the relevant memorandum should be struck down because the Prime Minister is not made to pay the actual cost incurred by the Government in providing the aircraft to the Prime Minister. The underlying assumption of this argument is that the use of the aircraft is for the Personal benefit of the Prime Minister and not in public interest. As would appear from the above, this assumption is not correct.

22. Argument has also been advanced on behalf of the Petitioners that respondent No. 6 under the garb of official tours attends to election work of her party. The petitioners along with the petition filed Annexure 'A' relating to 13 visits of the Prime Minister to different places during the period from January 13, 1971 to February 4, 1971. In this connection we find that the affidavit of Shri Prabhu shows that only two out of those tours were for official work while the others were for nonofficial purposes. One of the official visits was to Haryana in connection with the Loharu Lift Irrigation Project and the other was to Simla in connection with the inauguration of the new State of Himachal Pradesh. The affidavit further shows that the invitations for these two visits were extended to the Prime Minister before the dissolution of Lok Sabha. As such, it cannot be said that these two visits were undertaken for furthering the election Prospects of the party of the Prime Minister.

23. The argument that the impugned memorandum regarding the use of aircraft by the Prime Minister for non-official purposes is vocative of Article 14 of the Constitution, in our opinion, is not well founded. It is well-established that while Article 14 forbids class legislation, it does not forbid reasonable classification. In order, however, to pass the test of permissible classification two conditions must be fulfillled namely (i) that the classification must be founded on an intelligible differentia, which distinguishes Persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group, and (ii) that the differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved. The classification may be founded on different bases, namely, geographical, or according to objects or occupations or the like. What is necessary is that there must be a nexus between the basis of classification and the object of the provision under consideration. It also cannot be disputed that a law may be constitutional even though it relates to a single individual if, on account of some special circumstances or reasons applicable to him and not applicable to others, himself may treat that single individual as a class. (See Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Justice S. R. Tendolkar, : [1959]1SCR279 ). In the light of the above principles, we are of the opinion that the Prime Minister in view of the importance and the nature of duties of her office constitutes a class by herself. The impugned classification is founded upon an intelligible differentia and has a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved, The object of the impugned order obviously is to ensure personal safety of the Prime Minister and to enable her to deal with the official business with due dispatch and necessary promptitude so that the interests of the nation may not suffer. Attack on the impugned order on the ground of its being vocative of Article 14 of the Constitution must, thereforee, fail.

24. It has also been argued on behalf of the Petitioners that no moneys out of the public exchequer can be spent for the aircrafts used by the Prime Minister except in accordance with law. Reference in this context is made to clause (3) of Article 266 of the Constitution according to which no moneys out of the Consolidated Fund of India or the Consolidated Fund of a State shall be appropriated except in accordance with law and for the purposes and in the manner provided in the Constitution. Shri Prabhu has controverter the above stand in his affidavit and he has denied any violation of Article 260. At the hearing the learned Attorney General submits that necessary provisions in this respect have been made in the Appropriation Bills introduced in and passed by Parliament. There can in our opinion be hardly any doubt that no expense out of the public exchequer can be incurred unless the Appropriation Act covers it.

25. The next argument of Mr. Sharma relates to the use of Government cars and jeeps by the Ministers of the Central Government. In respect of this allegation Shri Prabhu in his affidavit has stated that Government cars and jeeps are not being provided to any Minister of the Union for election purposes. So far as the use of Government of India cars by Ministers is concerned, the use of such vehicles by the Ministers is governed by the Staff Car Rules. According to those Rules the Union Ministers are not required to, Pay any charges for the use of vehicles of the Government for official journeys, but for nonofficial journeys 'they have to pay at the rate of 50 paise per mile or 31 paise per kilometer for Small cars and at the rate of 70 paise per mile or 44 paise per kilometer for cars of more than 18 horse power. Such charges are recoverable for distances covered by a staff car from the time it leaves office/garage till it returns to the office/garage. No breach of these Rules since December 1970 it is stated has come to the notice of the Government of India. Regarding the visits of the Prime Minister and other Union Ministers to the States, the arrangements for the facility of transport within the State are with the State Governments having regard to the responsibility of the State Governments to ensure the safety of the Minister, mobility for official work and law and order, Particularly so far as the Prime Minister is concerned. No Particulars of the use of the State-owned cars and jeeps by the Union Ministers have been given and none of the State Governments, which are alleged to have allowed the use of its cars and jeeps to Union Ministers, has been imp leaded as a party. We, thereforee, are of the opinion that on the material on record and in the context of the above allegation, no such violation of Article 14 has been proved as may justify the issuance of a writ.

26. As regards the allegation that the Government or Government arranges meetings at public expense controlled bodies, ostensibly for official purposes. But in fact for the furtherance of the election prospects of the candidates belonging to the Ruling Party, hardly any arguments have been addressed at the hearing. The matter relates to the State Governments and the bodies controlled by them, and as they have not been imp leaded as Parties it cannot be said whether they incurred any public expense in connection with the election meetings of the Ruling Party. Reference was made to the visit of the Prime Minister to Haryana in connection with the inauguration of Loharu Lift Irrigation Project on January 13, 1971. The affidavits of Shri Ram Narain, Secretary, Haryana State Electricity Board, and Shri R. S. Mehra. Superintending Engineer, Loharu Canal Circle. Show that the above mentioned visit of the Prime Minister related to the Project costing crores of rupees as a result of which it is proposed to irrigate a chronically drought-affected area comprising more than three lacs of acres. It has been denied that any expenditure was incurred by the Irrigation Department of Haryana for the meeting addressed by the Prime Minister. The only expenditure that was incurred was for providing a stage for the rostrum at the inauguration site and for seating arrangements etc. Helipads are also stated to have been constructed at nominal cost to facilitate the visit of the Prime Minister to the Project site. Some welcome Rates at different Points were also put up by the Electricity Board in the proximity of the local offices of the Board at nominal cost. On the material on the record it cannot be held that meetings at public expense were arranged by the State Governments or Government controlled bodies for furtherance of the election prospects of the candidates belonging to the Ruling Party.

27. According to the affidavit or Shri Prabhu, there are elaborate secret rules and instructions for the protection of the Prime Minister on tour and in travel. All such arrangements are Dart of the normal duties of the States Governments and such arrangements are made irrespective of the fact whether the Prime Minister visits any Place on an Official Purpose or for non-official purpose including elections. Since all the arrangements such as traffic control, construction of rostrums, lighting arrangements etc. are related directly to the maintenance of law and order and security of the Prime Minister, all expenditures incurred in the movement of police, setting up of barricades and construction of rostrums are borne by the State Governments. However, taking into consideration the fact that some aspects of these arrangements in respect of election meetings are relatable to the political Party to which the Prime Minister may belong, it has been provided that the expenditure incurred on the public address system and Rs. 2,500/- or 25 % of the cost of setting up of rostrums, whichever is less should be contributed by that Political Party. Instructions in this connection were issued by the Comptroller and Auditor General on 29th November. 1958. A circular was thereafter issued on 12th January. 1959. by the Government of India to all the State Governments. There is no material on the record to show that the instructions in this respect have not been carried out.

28. No arguments have been addressed in support of the allegation that Government personnel are being provided to the Ministers at the Lost of public exchequer whenever they proceed on election campaign for their party candidates. According to the affidavit of Shri Prabhu, no Government personnel are being provided to any Minister for an election work and no Government personnel has been used for that purpose. The Government employees, it has been Pointed out are Prohibited from taking Part in Politics. Any breach of this salutary provision is made punishable under the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules. It would also appear from the affidavit of Shri Prabhu that it is essential for the conduct of official business of the Government of India that necessary officials should accompany the Prime Minister and the Ministers of the Union as otherwise the work of the Government would come to a stand-still. It thereforee, cannot be said on the material on record that there has been violation of the concept of equality enshrined in the Article 14 of the Constitution of utilisation of the service of the Government personnel for furtherance of the election prospects of the candidate of the Ruling Party.

29. The next allegation relates to the use of the All India Radio and Television for carrying on Propaganda in favor of the Ruling Party. In this context we find that according to the affidavit of Shri K. L. Sharma, Joint Director, News Services Division of All India Radio, the following norms are followed for selection of news for broadcast on All India Radio: -

'(i) Judging every story strictly on the basis of its news value.

(ii) Ensuring the highest standard of accuracy and good taste in news reporting.

(iii) Treating news factually objectively and analytically, but not sensationally.

(iv) Avoiding methods of news reporting and treatment, which might create alarm and panic.

(v) Projecting national and international ideals for which the country stands.

(vi) Reporting news aimed at ensuring territorial integrity, national integration, secularism, norms of Public decency, maintenance of Public order and upholding the dignity and prestige of Parliament and Legislatures and the Judiciary;

(vii) Noticing national achievement in different fields;

(viii) Keeping off Personal or slanderous news;

(ix) Keeping out sex and crime Stories unless they are of wide public interest,

(x) Applying the highest standards of objectivity in reporting political controversies in order to give a balanced coverage by avoiding the use of slanted or coloured versions;

(xi) Ensuring that the susceptibilities of a religion, a nation or a government are not offended;

(xii) Avoiding presentation of news in a manner that would encourage subversive activities against a government established by law;

(xiii) Keeping out gambling or similar information which might tend to cause listeners to gamble on the outcome of an event, and

(xiv) Avoiding, advertising, advancing or promoting interests of an individual business or trade by referring to its name or otherwise unless the name is essential to the story.'

No serious objection has been raised to the abovementioned principles on behalf of the petitioners, but it is urged that despite those Principles, the All India Radio gives a slant in the presentation of news in favor of the Ruling Party. No Particulars of any specific news item have been given in this respect and in our opinion it would be outside the scope of a writ petition to call for the different news bulletins of the All India Radio. Scrutinise them and find out whether there has been any deviation from the principles enunciated above. Indeed Mr. Sharma, the learned counsel for the Petitioners, states that the alleged mischief which has been done, in the past cannot be undone, but according to him a mandamus may be issued that the All India Radio should not give a slant in the presentation of news in favor of any party. The principles reproduced above enjoin objectivity and highest standard of accuracy. It has also been provided in the norms that the news should be reported from an unbiased and non-partisan point of view. The case of the respondents is that the above norms have been adhered to. Be that as it may, it would be for the authorities concerned to ensure compliance with the principles reproduced above. In the absence of any Particulars of a deviation from the Prescribed norms, it is difficult for this Court to issue any direction in a writ petition. In case there is a departure from these norms, the redress would have to be sought in more appropriate proceedings after giving full Particulars of the alleged deviations.

30. Reference has also been made on behalf of the petitioners to the spotlight programmes of the All India Radio. Such programmes are generally in the nature of commentaries on the most important events of the day. According to the affidavit of Shri K. L. Sharma, Scripts dealing with political subjects are mostly written by journalists, commentators and other specialists. These programmes are a forum for full expression of different views on the current topics and do not propagate any Policy of the Government, but is only a reflection on the contemporary scene as seen by independent journalists. The affidavit of Shri Sharma further shows that during the Period from January 1 1970 to February 11. 1971, journalists wrote 265 scripts. Out of them 45 were written by journalists of 'The Hindustan Times', 29 of the 'The Statesman' 24 of 'The Indian Express' 21 of 'The Times of India' 16 of 'The Patriot' 11 of 'The Hindu' 11 of 'The Economic Times' 9 of 'The National Herald'. 8 of 'The Hindustan Standard,' 8 of 'The Financial Express' and 83 were written by journalists representing other newspapers and weeklies. During the period from December 28 1970, to February 10, 1971 also the participants in, the Spotlight represented a similar cross section of journalistic background, Shri Sharma accordingly asserts that the above mentioned programmes are not meant to project any particular view or ideology, but are aimed at providing a forum for debate on matters of vital interest to the nation. We thereforee, are of the opinion that on the material on record and in the context of the above allegation, no such violation of Article 14 has been proved as may justify the issuance of a writ.

31. Mr. Sharma has next referred to the proposal of the Election Commission in its Letter dated December 7, 1970, that each of the eight National Parties might be allowed four broadcasts of ten minutes duration in respect of their policies and programmes Such a proposal. It is pointed out, was turned down by the Ruling Party as per letter dated December 11, 1970, of its General Secretary. Shri Shankar Dayal Sharma. In that letter it was stated by Shri Shankar Dayal Sharma that according to the Previous report of the Election Commission 'any equitable allocation of broadcasting time among them must necessarily take into account their relative strength in the legislatures and in the country which could never be equal or even nearly equal.' Shri Shankar Dayal Sharma added that the new proposal could not be agreed to as the Ruling Party would have only four broadcasts as against the twenty-eight broadcasts of the Opposition parties. In this respect we find that Shri A. N. Sen, Secretary, Election Commission of India, has stated that in view of lack of agreement between Political parties. The Election Commission has no power to enforce or impose its decision on political parties regarding broadcasting facilities. Shri Sen adds that even in the United Kingdom, the use of the media of Radio broadcasting through the British Broad casting Corporation has been made possible only by agreement among political Parties. It is manifest that we cannot in these proceedings compel the parties to agree to a mutual arrangement for broadcasting their programmes and policies.

32. Lastly, it has been argued that the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (hereinafter referred to as DAVP), which has been incorrectly described in the petition as Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity, is Publishing large number of brochures, pamphlets, booklets and posters at Government expense with the object of making propaganda in favor of the Ruling Party and building up the image of Shrimati Indira Gandhi as individual national leader. The petitioners in this connection have given two particulars, one of them relates to an advertisement on January 28. 1971. in newspapers with portrait of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru with the following words:

'The fruits of our efforts should not go into the Pockets of a few. We should keep an eve on the proper distribution of wealth.......... Jawaharlal Nehru.'

The other is an advertisement published in the newspapers on January 30, 1971, containing a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi with the words:

'Classless society is the ideal not merely to be aimed at but to be worked for.......... Mahatma Gandhi. ' In this connection we find that according to the affidavit of Shri Henry Joseph D'Penha. Director of Advertising and Visual Publicity the Davp publishes brochures, pamphlets, booklets and Posters at Government expense for the purpose of informing the Public of the activities of the Government in various fields. Shri D'Penha has denied that the publicity is given for the purpose of doing propaganda for the Ruling Party or with the object of building up the image of Shrimati Indira Gandhi as an individual national leader. The two advertisements referred to by the Petitioners in our opinion, do not go to show that any propaganda is being made in favor of the Ruling Party. In any case, the material produced by the petitioners in this respect is far to o scanty to justify interference on the writ side.

33. An application was also made by the petitioners during the Pendency of the Petition praying for Production of a large number of documents by the various Ministers in respect of the tour programmes of the Ministers of the Central Government and the scripts of the news bulletins and other programmes of the All India Radio and Television. The respondents resisted the above application. In respect of that application. We are of the view that the present petition should be decided on the material on the record and this Court in these proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution should not embark upon a roving enquiry to find out if there has been any violation ofArt. 14.

The petition consequently fails and is dismissed, but in the circumstances without costs.

34. Petition dismissed.


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