The court dismissed an election petition for want of specific facts and particulars in the form of names, date, and place of commission of the alleged corrupt practice.
WHILE dismissing an election petition, Justice Vinit Kumar Mathur of the Rajasthan High Court, on April 4, held that for establishing a corrupt practice in an election petition, a material statement of facts with full particulars of any corrupt practice is mandatory.
The court was hearing applications by the respondents under Order 7 Rule 11 (rejection of plaint) of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) read with Section 83 (contents of petition) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and under Order 1 Rule 13 (objections as to non-joinder or misjoinder) of the CPC read with Section 86 (trial of election petitions) of the Act of 1951, in view of the election petition filed under Section 80 (election petitions), 81 (presentation of petitions) and 100(1)(b) (grounds for declaring election to be void) of the Act of 1951.
The election petition challenged the election of Rampratap Kaslaniya (respondent No.1), as a member of the legislative assembly from Suratgarh, District Sri Ganganagar, during the Rajasthan legislative assembly election in 2018. According to the petitioner, the alleged corrupt practice adopted by the respondents of showing Kaslaniya’s incorrect name on pamphlets and posters created confusion among the voters, causing the petitioner to lose votes.
The judgment notes that the arguments by the counsel representing the respondents pointed out that the bare perusal of the election petition fails to disclose a cause of action, facts and evidence in support of the allegations made in the election petition, thus being covered under Order 7 Rule 11(a) of the CPC.
In the judgment, Justice Mathur states that the respondents pointed out that under Section 83 of the Act of 1951, the election petition is required “to contain a concise statement of material facts on which the petitioner relies” and to “set forth full particulars of any corrupt practice that the petitioner alleges, including as full statement as possible of the names of the parties alleged to have committed such corrupt practices and the date and the place of commission of each such practice.”
It was contended that the contents of the election petition were not in accordance with Section 83 of the Act of 1951.
According to the counsel for the petitioner, the judgment notes, the case falls under Section 123 of the Act of 1951 which defines ‘corrupt practices’ and states, “The publication by a candidate or his agent or by any other person of any statement of fact which is false, and which he either believed to be false or does not believe to be true, in relation to the personal character or conduct of any candidate, or in relation to the candidature, or withdrawal being a statement reasonably calculated to prejudice the prospects of that candidate’s election.”
The judgment observed that it was contended on behalf of the petitioner that the respondents’ alleged act of showing an incorrect name on pamphlets and posters created prejudice to his prospects by causing confusion among voters, resulting in the petitioner losing the legislative assembly election of 2018.
As the judgment records, the petitioner submitted that his name was correctly entered as ‘Mahaveer Prasad Pareek @ Tiwari’ in the electoral roll and in the list of contesting candidates by the returning officer. However, the mention of the petitioner’s name as ‘Mahaveer Prasad Pareek @ Shivaji’ in the pamphlets, posters and other election material by respondent numbers 1, 2 and 3 was allegedly made with the intention of securing more votes in their favour.
Therefore, the petitioner’s case was that the incorrect mentioning of the petitioner’s name constitutes corrupt practices as defined under Section 100(1)(b) of the Act of 1951, which declares grounds for declaring the election void.
Specific averment and evidence
Referring to the averments made on the grounds of the election petition, the judgment made the observation that “the allegation levelled is casual, does not disclose the required details and is not sufficient to bring home the allegation of corrupt practice in the present case.”
On the conditions for establishing a corrupt practice in the election petition, Justice Mathur emphasised the need to provide a material statement of facts with full particulars of any corrupt practice, along with the possible names of the parties who have committed the said corrupt practice, and the date and place of its commission.
The judgment points out that Section 123(4) of the Act provides that the publication is required to be reasonably calculated by a candidate or his agent. In respect of the averment in the present case, the court held that the allegations that the pamphlets and sample ballot papers were published by the respondents that show the incorrect name of the petitioner did not provide complete details and cogent evidence in its support, which is mandated under Section 83 of the Act.
Holding that the petition failed to contain cogent documentary evidence except for a bald allegation, the court allowed the application filed by the returned candidate under Order 7 Rule 11 of the CPC, and dismissed the election petition.