10 April 2023 10:41 AM GMT
The Rajasthan High Court while dismissing an election petition, has held that a mere allegation without any cogent documentary evidence does not constitute corrupt practice under Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. A bench comprising Justice Vineet Kumar Mathur passed the above ruling while dismissing an election petition filed under Sections 80, 81, 100(1)(B)...
The Rajasthan High Court while dismissing an election petition, has held that a mere allegation without any cogent documentary evidence does not constitute corrupt practice under Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
A bench comprising Justice Vineet Kumar Mathur passed the above ruling while dismissing an election petition filed under Sections 80, 81, 100(1)(B) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, whereby, the election of Rampratap Kaslaniya (first respondent) as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Suratgarh Contituency was challenged.
The petitioner had filed his nomination for election with the name that appeared in the Electoral Roll of his Ward. The list of candidates with their correct names was published by the Returning Officer. However, the respondents allegedly engaged in corrupt practices by publishing false posters that incorrectly displayed the petitioner's name as "Mahaveer Prasad Pareek @ Shivaji," instead of his correct name "Mahaveer Prasad Pareek @ Tiwary.”
It was further alleged that the respondents engaged in corrupt behaviour by publishing false posters in order to secure more votes, which allegedly led to the petitioner losing votes, as it created suspicion among his voters. The petitioner filed complaints with the Chief Election Commissioner and the Returning Officer, despite which there was no action taken. The petitioner contended that if false posters had not been used, he would have received more votes, and thus, filed the Election Petition.
Justice Mathur pointed out that the pleading with respect to the allegation levelled against the Respondent is casual, does not disclose the required details and is not sufficient to bring home the allegation of corrupt practice in the present case.
Justice Mathur further pointed out that unless there is a specific averment, allegation and evidence in support of the contention that such material got published by the respondents or their agents, it cannot be presumed that such corrupt practice was adopted by the respondents.
He added that in order to prove corrupt practices in an election petition, a person must plead a material statement of facts with full details of any corrupt practices that the petitioner alleges, a full settlement of any parties who may have engaged in the practise, and the date and location of the violation.
However, it must be pointed out that in the present case, the allegations that the pamphlets and the sample ballot papers were published by the respondents or their agents showing the incorrect name of the petitioner, were not pleaded with complete details and cogent evidence in support thereof.
The bench placed reliance on the apex court's judgement in the case of Anil Vasudev Salgaonkar V/s Naresh Kushali Shigaonkar 9 SCC 310, wherein it was held that:
"57. It is settled legal position that all "material facts" must be pleaded by the party in support of the case set up by him within the period of limitation. Since the object and purpose is to enable the opposite party to know the case he has to meet with, in the absence of pleading, a party cannot be allowed to lead evidence. Failure to state even a single material fact will entail dismissal of the election petition. The election petition must contain a concise statement of "material facts" on which the petitioner relies."
Justice Mathur stated that there was no cogent documentary evidence except a bald allegation which cannot be considered to come within the ambit of corrupt practice as enshrined in Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
It was further pointed out that the concise statement of the material facts as required along with the full particulars as mandated under Section 83 of the Act of 1951 was also clearly missing in the election petition filed by the petitioner.
While dismissing the election petition, Justice Mathur held, "The core issue as to whether the instant election petition disclose any cause of action, a perusal of the averments made in the election petition and the plea taken in the application under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC, makes it crystal clear that the election petition does not disclose any cause of action."
Case Title: Mahaveer Prasad Pareek @ Tiwari vs Rampratap Kaslaniya & Ors S.B. Election Petition No. 4/2019
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Raj) 25
Click Here To Read/Download The Order