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Supreme Court Admits BJP Leader Okram Henry Singh's Plea Challenging HC's Order Declaring His Election From Manipur Constituency Void, Gets Partial Reliefs

Srishti Ojha
7 May 2021 1:56 PM GMT
Supreme Court Admits BJP Leader Okram Henry Singhs Plea Challenging HCs Order Declaring His Election From Manipur Constituency Void, Gets Partial Reliefs
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Supreme Court has on Thursday admitted appeal by BJP leader appeal filed by BJP leader Okram Henry Singh challenging High Court's order declaring his election from 15 Wangkhei Assembly Constituency (Manipur) as null and void. A three judge Bench of Justice UU Lalit, Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice KM Joseph has directed that the opposite candidate Yumkham Erabot...

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Supreme Court has on Thursday admitted appeal by BJP leader appeal filed by BJP leader Okram Henry Singh challenging High Court's order declaring his election from 15 Wangkhei Assembly Constituency (Manipur) as null and void.

A three judge Bench of Justice UU Lalit, Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice KM Joseph has directed that the opposite candidate  Yumkham Erabot Singh, having been sworn-in as a Member of the Legislative Assembly, will be entitled to represent the electorate in the House and to participate in the debates, but will not be entitled to cast any vote on the floor of the House or in any committee of the House.

Further, Erabot Singh will also not be entitled to draw any monetary benefits in respect of the office of Member of the Assembly.


The Court has clarified that it has only passed interim directions which will be operative till the present appeal is disposed of by this Court.


During the hearing, Senior Advocate Narender Hooda and Advocate Shivendra Dwivedi appeared on behalf of the petitioner and Sr Adv H.S. Paonam, on behalf of Erabot Singh on caveat.


The Court noted that Yumkham Erabot Singh who was declared to have been elected by virtue of second relief granted by the High Court, was sworn-in as a Member of the Legislative Assembly on 21st April .


The Court, while admitting the appeal, further noted that in normal circumstances, where the election of a returned candidate is set-aside, by virtue of an interim order, certain protection is afforded to the appellant. However, since the appellant had resigned from the Assembly, by virtue of an interim order, the appellant cannot be representing the cause of the electorate before the House.


Further, the Court observed that only scope of the interim order would, therefore, be confined to the second relief granted by the High Court, which was declaration of the petitioner as duly elected member of the Constituency.l


The Court made note of the fact that no relief in terms of Section 116B(1) of the Act was prayed for, and that respondent Erabot Singh has already been sworn-in as a Member of the Assembly.


Facts: The present Appeal has been filed by BJP leader Okram Henry Singh challenging High Court's order declaring his election from 15 Wangkhei Assembly Constituency (Manipur) as null and void.


The impugned order dated 15th April had also declared Erabot Singh, the election petitioner before the High Court as duly elected member of 15 Wangkhei Assembly Constituency.


The appellant and the respondents were candidates who contested the election to the 15 Wangkhei Assembly Constituency in the 11th Manipur Legislative Elections held on 4th March 2017.


According to the plea, while Okram Singh contested as a candidate from the Indian National Congress Party, 1st respondent Erabot Singh contested as a candidate from Bharatiya Janata Party and 2nd respondent Rajkumar Singh was a candidate from All India Trinamool Congress.


When the election was held on 4th March 2017 for the 15-Wangkhei Assembly Constituency, counting was held on 11th March, the Returning Officer published the result and declaring Okram Henry (INC) as having maximum votes followed by Rajkumar Priyobarta Singh and Yumkham Erabot Singh (BJP)


The appeal has stated that the respondent then filed an election petition under Representation of the People Act, 1951 before Manipur High Court of Manipur challenged his election only on the ground that the nomination of the appellant was improperly accepted by the returning officer.


The appeal has stated that during pendency of the election petition, the appellant had certain ideological differences with the party from which he was elected and therefore, the he resigned as a MLA from 15 Wangkhei Assembly Constituency in the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly and ceased to be a MLA after resignation was accepted. However, since the election petitioner had made a prayer for being declared as the returned candidate, bye-elections for the casual vacancy created by the resignation of the appellant was not held.


"On 24th Sept 2020, Okram Henry Singh was Sworn in as a Cabinet Minister for the State of Manipur in the Government formed by the Bharatiya Janata Party. As Article 164(4) of the Constitution of India provides that a non-MLA cannot continue to be in the Council of Minister until, unless he is elected as a member of Legislative Assembly within 6 months from the date of induction as Minister. As such, appellant was entitled to continue as a Cabinet Minister till 28-3-2021, unless he got elected again in a bye-election." the plea has stated.


Order of the High Court: Manipur High Court had declared as null and void the election of Okram Henry Singh as a member of State Assembly (Wangkhei Assembly Constituency) in 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly after observing that failure to disclose name of the spouse and his dependents, details of pending criminal cases and educational qualification would constitute a corrupt practice falling within the meaning of 'undue influence' under sec. 123(2) of Representative of People Act, 1951.


The election petition was filed by Yumkham Erabot Singh under sec. 100(1)(d) and (iv) of the Act seeking declaration of Henry Singh's election as null and void and to declare himself as the returned candidate for the said election


Appellant's Contentions before Supreme Court: The petitioner in his plea stated that the High Court failed to see that he has substantially complied of Section 33 and Section 33-A of the R.P. Act, and there was


absolutely no suppression of any information. Therefore the High Court's finding that the appellant failed to comply with the requirement of the provisions is factually erroneous.

Further, the defect pointed out that the information was provided in the "wrong column", is not a substantial defect and therefore, the RO properly accepted the nomination papers of the appellant.


According to the appellant, the High Court could not have exercised power under Section 101 (b) of the R.P. Act, as in the election petition, no allegation of corruption has been made.


The appellant has argued that since the basic premise on which the High Court has proceeded, that the appellant had suppressed material fact regarding his criminal antecedents is factually erroneous, the other findings which depend on the basic premise are also erroneous and hence, they are liable to be set aside.

Okram Henry Singh's plea before Supreme Court: It is to be noted that Okram Henry Singh had in April also approached the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India to hold bye elections to the post of MLA of 15-Wangkhei Assembly Manipur. The Apex Court had declined to entertain the plea, and had granted him Liberty to approach the High court.

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