02 May 1955
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 158 of 1954






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/05/1955


CITATION:  1955 AIR  610            1955 SCR  (2) 428

ACT:   Representation of the People Act (Act XLIII) 1951, proviso to  Section 85-Section 90(4)-Reconsideration of question  of limitation   by  Tribunal-Section   82-Non-compliance   with Provisions-Omission   to   include  a  party  in   list   of respondents-Defect whether fatal-Section 83(1)-Code of Civil Procedure,  Order  6, rules 15(2) and  (3)Effect  of-Section 83(2)-"Full Particulars"-Duties of Tribunal when particulars filed  are vague-Serious allegations of  corrupt  practices- Duty of Tribunal to inquire into.

HEADNOTE:   The   appellants,  two  of  the  electors  of  the   Akola Constituency of the Madhya Pradesh State Assembly, filed  an Election  Petition against Respondent No. 1, the  successful candidate in the election held on December 13, 1951, and the three  other respondents who having been  validly  nominated went to the polls but were defeated.  The Election Petition, under Section 80 of the Representation of the People Act  of 1951,  was admittedly time-barred by one day.  The  Election Commission  condoned the delay under the proviso to  Section 85  of the Act and constituted a Tribunal for the  trial  of the petition.  On pleadings of the parties, nine issues were framed  by the Tribunal which are covered by  the  following questions: (1)  Whether  the  election  petition  was  presented  by  a properly authorised person. (2)  Whether there was sufficient cause for presentation  of the petition  one day out of time. (3)  Whether  the petition was defective for non-joinder  of certain parties as respondents. (4)  Whether  the petition was defective for want of  proper verification. (5)  Whether,the petition was defective for vagueness of the particulars  relating  to the corrupt practices set  out  in Schedule A thereto. The  Tribunal  found only the first of the above  points  in favour of the petitioners by a majority.  But in respect  of



the  other  four  points, it held  against  the  petitioners unanimously.   As a result of the adverse findings on  these four points, the petition was dismissed without any trial on the   merits.   It  is  against  this  dismissal  that   the appellants  have  now  come up to this  Court  on  obtaining special leave. When  the  delay  in  submitting  an  election  petition  is condoned                             429 by  the Election Commission in exercise of its  power  under the  proviso  to  Section 85 of the  Representation  of  the People  Act  (Act  XLIII of 1951), it is  not  open  to  the Election  Tribunal,  under  Section 90(4)  of  the  Act,  to reconsider  the question of limitation.  Even if,  according to  the requirement of Section 82 of the  Representation  of the People Act, any of the necessary parties other than  the returned  candidate has not been impleaded, the petition  is not liable to be dismissed in limin on that sole ground; but it  is  a  matter  to be taken  into  consideration  at  the appropriate stage with reference to the final result of  the case. Section 83(1) of the Act provides that an election  petition has  to be verified in the manner provided for  verification of pleadings under the Code of Civil Procedure.  Clauses (2) and  (3)  of rule 15 in Order VI of the Code  lay  down  the procedure  for verification of pleadings.  Apart from  those cases  where the date of the pleading and  the  verification may be relevant and important, it would be a wrong  exercise of discretionary power to dismiss an application on the sole ground of the absence of the date of verification.  In  such a  case  the  applicant should normally be  called  upon  to remove  the  lacuna by adding a  supplementary  verification indicating  the  date of the original verification  and  the reason for the earlier omission. The  requirement of "full particulars" of corrupt  practices in  Section  83(2)  of the Act, is one that has  got  to  be complied  with, with sufficient fullness and  clarification, so  as to enable the opposite party to meet the  allegations against  him fairly, and so as to prevent the  enquiry  from being  turned into a rambling and roving  inquisition.   The primary  responsibility for furnishing full  particulars  of alleged currupt practices and for filing a petition in  full compliance  with  Section 83 (2) of the Act is that  of  the petitioners.   If they fail to do so initially it  is  their duty   and  responsibility  to  remove  the   defects   when opportunity  is available.  Tribunals, however,  should  not take  an  all too narrow view of their function  in  dealing with the various alleged defects in the petition and dismiss it  on the ground of want of particulars.  They should  call for  better particulars and if that order was  not  complied with strike out such of the charges as are vague. The petitioners also alleged that the returned candidate was disqualified  to stand because he had interest in  contracts with  the  Government.   But  the  Tribunal  ignored   these allegations and without enquiring into their truth dismissed the petition on the ground that the allegations relating  to the charge of corrupt practices were vague, Held that it was not in the interest of purity of  elections that such allegations of disqualification should be  ignored and that it was a matter which called for enquiry.  Case remitted for enquiry with reference to the allegations that the returned candidate was disqualified and the  charge of corrupt practice, which was held to be not vague. Dinabandhu v. Jadumoni ( [1955] 1 S.C.R. 140) and Jagan Nath v. Joswant ([1954] S.C.R. 892), followed,




JUDGMENT:   CIVIL  APPELLATE,  JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No.  158  of 1954. Veda Vyas, (S.  K. Kapur and Ganpat Rai, with him), for  the appellants.  M. C. Setalvad, Attorney-General for India (.ill. N. Phadke and Naunit Lal, with him), for respondent No. 1. 1955.  May 2. The Judgment of the Court was delivered by JAGANNADHADAS J.-This is an appeal by special leave  against the  Judgment  and order of the  Election  Tribunal,  Akola, Madhya  Pradesh,  dated the 1st May,  1953,  dismissing  the election  petition filed by the appellants.  It  relates  to the  election  for  the  Akola  Constituency  of  the  State Assembly  of  Madhya  Pradesh which was  held  on  the  13th December, 1951, and the result of which was notified in  the Gazette on the 4th April, 1952.  The two appellants are  the electors of the said constituency.  The first respondent was the successful candidate at the election.  Respondents, Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were the other three candidates who, having  been validly nominated went to the polls but were defeated.   The appellants  filed the election Petition under section 80  of the  Representation  of the People Act, 1951 (Act  XLIII  of 1951) (hereinafter referred to as the Act’ for setting aside the election on various allegations.  The petition was filed on  the 19th April, 1952, before the Election Commission  at Delhi and was admittedly one day beyond the prescribed time. The   Election  Commission  admitted  the   petition   after condoning  the delay under the proviso to section 85 of  the Act  and thereupon constituted a Tribunal for the  trial  of the petition at Akola by notifications dated the 30th  July, 1952,  and 22nd September- 1952.  In due  course  respondent No.  I appeared and filed his written statement on  the  6th October, 1952, and the petitioners filed their reply thereto on  the  16th  October,  1952.   With  reference  to   these pleadings,  the  Tribunal  was of the opinion  that  it  was advisable to frame certain preliminary issues and to dispose of the same before entering on the                             431 trial  of  the case on its merits.  Accordingly,  nine  pre- liminary  issues  were  framed.   These  nine  issues   sub- stantiaily  cover the following questions: (1)  Whether  the election  petition  was presented by a  properly  authorised person.   (2)  Whether  there  was  sufficient   cause   for presentation  of  the  petition one day  out  of  time.  (3) Whether  the  petition  was  defective  for  non-joinder  of certain parties as respondents. (4) Whether the petition  is defective  for want of proper verification. (5) Whether  the petition  was  defective for vagueness  of  the  particulars relating  to  the corrupt practices set out  in  Schedule  A thereto.   The  Tribunal found only the first of  the  above points  in favour of the petitioners by a majority.  But  in respect  of  the  other four points,  it  held  against  the petitioners  unanimously.   As  a  result  of  the   adverse findings  on these four points, the petition  was  dismissed without  any  trial  on  the merits.   It  is  against  this dismissal that the appellants have now come up to this Court on obtaining special leave.  Before  dealing  with the merits of the appeal, it  may  be mentioned that at an early stage of these proceedings before the  Tribunal, an objection was taken to the composition  of the Tribunal on the allegation that one of the Members, Shri



A.  S. Athalye was not competent to be a Member  thereof  on account  of  his  alleged  bias  in  favour  of  the   first respondent.   The bias was sought to be made out by  showing that shortly before the election, Shri Athalye had written a letter  to the 1st respondent offering to assist him in  his election  campaign.  On objection being taken, the  Tribunal stayed  its  hands  for  a  preliminary  decision  of   that question.   Meanwhile, the petitioners took  proceedings  in the  High Court for the quashing of the constitution of  the Tribunal  on  the above ground by means  of  an  application under article 226 of the Constitution.  That application was dismissed   after   hearing  both  sides.    Thereupon   the petitioners  moved this Court for special leave against  the order  of the High Court.  But this Court declined to  grant leave.  Learned counsel for the appellants attempted to 55 432 attack  the  validity of the decision of  the  Tribunal  now under  appeal  on  the same ground.  But  this  having  been already  determined against the petitioners in the  previous proceedings, we declined to allow the matter to be reopened. On the other side, the learned Attorney-General for the  1st respondent attempted to reopen before us the question as  to whether   the  petition  was  presented  to   the   Election Commission  by an authorised person, which as stated  above, was  found against him by a majority of the  Tribunal.   The ground  on  which he attempted to reopen this  question  was that the finding was based on a wrong view as to the  burden of  proof.   We were not prepared, however, to  permit  this finding  of  fact to be reopened in this appeal  on  special leave,  irrespective of the question whether the  burden  of proof was rightly laid on the petitioners.  The only points, therefore, that have been argued before us are whether the view taken by the Tribunal with reference to the following questions, viz. (1) limitation, (2) joinder of parties,   (3)  verification,  and  (4)   specification   of particulars  of corrupt practices in Schedule A attached  to the  petition,  is  correct, and if  so,  whether  the  same entailed  dismissal of the petition.  The questions  may  be taken up one after the other.  LIMITATION:As  stated above, the petition was filed on  the 19th  April, 1952, admittedly one day beyond time.   On  the 28th April, 1952, the petitioners filed also an  application for  condonation  of delay setting out the reasons  for  the same.   In paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 thereof  the  circumstances under which the delay is said to have occurred were set  out as follows:    "3.  The  applicants were under the  belief  that  Notice under  Rule 113 of the Rules framed under the above Act  was published on 5th April, 1952, in the official Gazette of the State  of  Madhya Pradesh.  They felt therefore  that  their petition was duly presented within 14 days as prescribed  by Rule  119.   Applicants, however, learn  that  actually  the Notice under Rule 113 was published in the Official  Gazette of  4th April, 1952.  It therefore appears that there was  a delay of                             433 one  day  in the representation of  the  election  petition. This delay occurred under the following circumstances:- 4.   The applicants prepared their election petition on  the 17th April, 1952.  They sent the said petition with Shri  P. B. Gole, Senior Advocate, Akola, with a written authority to present  the  petition through any person of his  choice  at Nagpur on the 18th April.  They also sent with Shri Gole Rs. 1,000  for  being deposited in the  Government  Treasury  at



Nagpur  as required by section 117 of the Act and to  obtain Treasury receipt for security of costs to be filed with  the petition.   The  applicants were under the  belief  that  an officer must have been appointed by the Election  Commission under section 81 of the Act to whom election petitions could be  represented for the State of Madhya Pradesh  at  Nagpur. Accordingly  Shri Gole left Akola for Nagpur by the  1  Down Nagpur  Mail,  reaching Nagpur at about 9-30  A.M.  on  18th April, 1952.    5.     Mr. Gole caused the deposit of Rs. 1,000  security for  costs to be made in the Government Treasury  at  Nagpur through  Mr.  Sidhaye, Advocate, Nagpur,  and  obtained  the necessary  Government  Treasury receipt on the  18th  April, 1952.  He then made enquiries about the officer who may have been  appointed to receive the election petitions.  He  con- sulted  R.  S.  Rangole, who was attached  to  the  Election Office at Nagpur.  On enquiries Shri Gole learnt that  there was  none at Nagpur, who was authorised to receive  election petition under the Act.  Under these circumstances Shri Gole booked a seat in the Night Plane for Delhi and flew to Delhi on the 18th and reached there on the morning on 19th  April, 1952.   On  19th April Shri Gole caused the petition  to  be presented to the Secretary to the Election Commission". The explanation thus furnished was accepted by the  Election Commission as appears from the intimation to the petitioners by  letter dated the 30th July, 1952.  The Tribunal  was  of the  opinion that notwithstanding the order of the  Election Commission  condoning the delay and admitting the  petition, it was free to 434 reconsider the question by virtue of the powers vested in it under  section 90(4) of the Act.  In this view it went  into the  merits  of the explanation furnished and  came  to  the conclusion that the petitioners were negligent and that  the delay,  even  of  one  day,  could  not  be  condoned.    It accordingly  held  that  the  petition  was  liable  to   be dismissed as barred by time.  Now, apart from the merits  of the  sufficiency of the cause for delay, the question as  to whether, notwithstanding the condonation of the delay by the Election   Commission.,  it  was  open  to  a  Tribunal   to reconsider the matter by virtue of section 90(4) of the Act, is  now  covered by the decision of this Court  reported  in Dinabandhu v. Jadumoni(1).  It was therein held that it  was not open to the Tribunal to reconsider the matter in such  a case.   The conclusion of the Tribunal, therefore,  on  this point  cannot be maintained.  The  learned  Attorney-General attempted to argue that the decision of this Court  referred to above was obiter as regards the legal point and  required further  consideration.  But we were not prepared to  permit that  question to be reopened.  We were also  not  satisfied that  there  was  any adequate reason for  the  Tribunal  to interfere  with  the view taken by the  Election  Commission condoning the delay of one day on the explanation  furnished to  it.   This explanation has not been found, even  by  the Tribunal, to be false.   JOINDER OF PARTIES: The objection as to joinder of parties arises as follows.  Three persons by name Shri Sohoni,  Shri Kulkarni,  and Shri Kothkar were nominated as candidates  at the  election.  Their nominations were found to be in  order on  scrutiny by the Returning Officer.  But within the  time allowed,  these  three  withdrew from  the  elections  under section  37  of  the  Act.   The  petitioners,  while   they impleaded  as respondents the three unsuccessful  candidates who went to the polls, did not implead these three  persons. The  view  taken by the Tribunal was that  these  were  also



necessary  parties and that their non-joinder  rendered  the petition liable for (1)  [1955] 1 S.C.R. 140.                             435 dismissal.   In support of their view, the  Tribunal  relied upon section 82 of the Act which is as follows:  "A petitioner shall join as respondents to his petition all the candidates who were duly nominated at the election other than himself if he was so nominated".  It  has been argued before us that this view  is  erroneous and  that  persons  who  filed  their  nominations  and  who withdrew  from  the contest within the  prescribed  time  in spite of their nominations having been found to be in  order on scrutiny by the Returning Officer, cannot be said to fall within  the  category of "candidates duly nominated  at  the election".   In  support of this  contention  two  decisions Sitaram v. Yograjsing(1) and Sheo Kumar v. V. G. Oak(2) have been cited.  On the other side the case in Mohammad Umair v. Ram Charan Singh(3)  was brought to our notice in support of the view taken by the Tribunal.  These three decisions  have treated  the  decision  of the question as  depending  on  a construction  of the phrase "at the election" in section  82 of  the Act.  The Bombay and Allahabad cases hold that  this phrase confines the necessary parties under this section  to those  who  were candidates for the actual poll,  while  the Patna  High  Court takes the view that the  phrase  "at  the election" has no such limiting significance.  It appears  to us  to be unnecessary and academic to go into this  judicial controversy  having regard to the decision of this Court  in Jagan  Nath v. Jaswant Singh(4).  If we were called upon  to settle  this  controversy,  we  would  prefer  to  base  the decision  not on any meticulous construction of  the  phrase "at  the election" but on a comprehensive  consideration  of the  relevant provisions of the Act and of the rules  framed thereunder  and of the purpose, if any, of  the  requirement under section 82 as to the joinder of parties other than the returned  candidate.  We are, however, relieved  from  this, since it has been decided in Jagan Nath v. Jaswant  Singh(4) that  even  if any of the necessary parties other  than  the returned candidate has not been (1)  A.I.R. 1953 Bombay 293. (3)  A.I.R. 1954 Patna 225. (2)  A.I.R. 1953 All. 633. (4)  [1954] S.C.R. 892. 436 impleaded,  the  petition is not liable to be  dismissed  in limine  on  that sole ground but that it is a matter  to  be taken  into  consideration  at the  appropriate  stage  with reference to the final result of the case.  In view of  this ruling  the  decision  of the Tribunal on  this  point  also cannot be maintained.   VERIFICATION:The  view  taken  by  the  Tribunal  on  this question  is based on section 83(1) of the Act which  is  as follows:  "An election petition shall contain a concise statement  of the material facts on which the petitioner relies and  shall be signed by the petitioner and verified in the manner  laid down  in  the  Code  of  Civil  Procedure,  1908,  for   the verification of pleadings".  The relevant provision in the Civil Procedure Code referred to  herein is Order VI, rule 15, clauses (2) and (3),  which are as follows:    "(2) The person verifying shall specify, by reference  to the numbered paragraphs of the pleading, what he verifies of his  own  knowledge and what he  verifies  upon  information



received and believed to be true.   (3)     The  verification  shall be signed by  the  person making it and shall state the date on which and the place at which it was signed".   In  the present case the verification of the  petition  as well as the schedule of particulars of corrupt practices are each  signed  by both the petitioners and there  is  now  no dispute about it.  The verification clause in the petition is as follows:  "The above-named applicants hereby affirm that the contents of the above petition are true to information received  from the press reports and several other electors and believed by them to be true. Signed and verified at Akola on The  verification  clause  relating to  the  particulars  of corrupt practices in Schedule A is as follows:  "The  above-named  applicants affirm that the  contents  in this schedule are true to information received and  believed by us to be true. Signed and verified at Akolo, on 437 In the view of the Tribunal there were two defects in  these verifications.  They do not refer to any numbered paragraphs nor  do they bear the dates on which they were  signed.   In the  view  of  the  Tribunal  the  petition  was  liable  to dismissal for non-compliance with the specific provision  in the  Act in this behalf.  That the verification  neither  in the  petition nor in the schedule of particulars  bears  any date  is  not disputed.  But it is contended that  the  view taken  by  the Tribunal in so far as it was of  the  opinion that  the verifications do not refer to any  numbered  para- graphs  is  unsustainable.   It  is  pointed  out  that  the statements in the verification were clearly meant to  convey that  the various allegations in the petition  and  schedule were,  in their entirety, based on information  and  belief. It is urged, therefore, that there was no scope and hence no need  to specify which were based on personal knowledge  and which upon information.  We agree with this contention.   It is to be noticed that a verified pleading is different  from an  affidavit  which., by virtue of Order XIX,  rule  3,  is specifically  required to be confined to such facts  as  the deponent  is able of his own knowledge to prove  (except  on interlocutory  applications,  on  which  statements  of  his belief  may be admitted, provided that the  grounds  thereof are  stated).  But there is notand in the nature  of  things there cannot be-any such limitation for pleadings.  Hence it became  necessary  in  the verification  of  a  pleading  to demarcate  clearly between the two.  The allegations in  the petition  in this case purport to be based only on  informa- tion.  Since the verification clauses refer to the  entirety of  the  petition  and the  attached  schedule,  absence  of enumeration of the various paragraphs therein as having been based  on information cannot be considered to be  a  defect. The verifications are accordingly defective only as  regards the  requirement  of  the dates thereof.   The  question  is whether the petition is liable to dismissal on this  ground. Though there may be cases where the date of the pleading and the verification may be relevant and important, it would  be a wrong exercise of discretionary power to dismiss 438 an  application  on the sole ground of absence  of  date  of verification.  In such a case the applicants should normally be   called   upon  to  remove  the  lacuna  by   adding   a supplementary  verification  indicating  the  date  of   the



original  verification  and  the  reason  for  the   earlier omission. PARTICULARS OF CORRUPT PRACTICES: The objection is based  on section 83(2) of the Act which is as follows: "The  petition  shall be accompanied by a  list  signed  and -verified  in like manner setting forth full particulars  of any  corrupt  or  illegal  practice  which  the   petitioner alleges, including as full a statement as possible as to the names of the parties alleged to have committed such  corrupt or illegal practice and the date and place of the commission of each such practice". The  objection  is  that the particulars  of  the  instances furnished  in  Schedule A to the petition are  all  of  them vague  and not in compliance with the above provision.   The list of particulars is as follows: "             SCHEDULE "A". List   of   particulars  of  instances   referred   in   the accompanying petition.  1.  That  in the month of December, 1951, respondent No.  1 has  been to the  premises of Akola Shree  Gurudwara,  where the  Local  Sikh Community had assembled to  listen  to  the recitation of the holy book ’Granth Saheb’ on the 7th day of the  death of daughter of one Sardar.  Suratsingb.  At  this meeting respondent No. 1 canvassed for votes for himself and paid Rs. 201/-, apparently as donation to the Gurudwara, but really as gift for inducing the Sikh Community in the  Akola Constituency   in  general  and  the  Sikhs   assembled   in particular to induce them to vote for himself at the ensuing election.  Respondent No. 1 was guilty of bribery within the meaning of that term in section 123 of the Representation of the People Act.’ Similar  instances  of  giving  illegal  gratifications  for securing votes of respective groups are- (a)  Donation to Hkariharpeth Akhada; 439 (b)  Payment  to Panch-bungalow Committee of Bhangis of  Old City. (c)  Donation to Bhaji Bazar Association. (d)  Distribution of blankets and Saries and money to voters. 2.   At the instance of respondent No. I a meeting of  workers in Berar Oil Industries a concern of Birla,  was  called  by its  manager  on  the  eve of the  election  and  they  were threatened  to vote for respondent No. 1 on pain  of  losing their service or suffer pecuniary loss, in case they did not vote for respondent No. 1. The poster of the rival candidate affixed on the post-office within the premises of the  Berar Oil Industries was removed and stolen away.   3. Respondent  No. 1 caused groups and sections of  castes and communities, such as Bohara, Lohars, Marwaries, Muslims, Rajasthanies,  Bhangies,  to  issue  appeals  stating   that resolutions  were  passed for voting for respondent  No.  1, coercing the voters by threats, etc., to vote for respondent No. 1 and openly canvassing on communal and caste lines  and using undue influence.  4.  Issuing  pamphlets  and  handbills  without  names   of printer or publisher.  5.  At  the time of counting votes in Polling  Station  No. 53, several folded bundles amounting to about 20 in  number, of ballot papers were found in the ballot box of  respondent No.  1,  when it was opened for counting  votes.   This  was noted by the Returning Officer.  Each bundle consisted three or   more  than  three  ballot  papers,   folded   together. Obviously each of the bundle of these ballot papers were put in the ballot box by one person, as the ballot papers put in



the  ballot box by different voters could not  automatically fold   themselves into a compact bundle in the  ballot  box. The  ballot papers issued to voters were not put in the  box by the voters themselves, but were illegally brought back by the  voters  and handed over to persons working for  and  on behalf   of   respondent  No.  I  on  payment   of   illegal gratification.   These  ballot papers  thus  collected  were bundled together 56 440 and  put  in the ballot box by persons working  for  and  on behalf of respondent No. 1 by taking illegal gratifications. This was done on 31st December, 1951, at Chandur by  persons with the connivance of respondent No. 1.  6.  False personation of several dead voters and voters    absent in Pakistan has taken place in Ward No. 12    and 15.  7.  The respondent No. 1 resorted to false propaganda.  His man  announced  on loud speakers from place  to  place  that rival  candidate Dr. Joglekar was of the caste and party  of Godse,  the murderer of M. Gandhi and a vote for him  was  a vote  for  Gandhi’s Murderer. Another false  propaganda  was that Dr. Joglekar   was Mishra’s man, supported by  Mishra’s money.    Lectures for respondent No. 1 in public meetings, including respondent No. I have freely made  these false  defamatory  and  malicious  statements  against   Dr. Joglekar,  the  rival  candidate  and  thus  prejudiced  the prospects  of Dr. Joglekar’s election.   Personal  character and conduct of Dr. Joglekar was also falsely attached,  thus prejudicing his prospects of election. 8.   Voters  were  carried in hired carts  at  many  polling stations, particularly at Kapshi Polling Station.  This  was arranged by persons working for and on behalf of  respondent No.  I at his expense and connivance.  A  written  objection for  police  enquiry was given at Kapshi and  one  in  Rifle Range area.  9.  Respondent No. 1 spent lacs of rupees over his election transgressing the prescribed limit of Rs. 6,000.  He     has given a totally untrue return of election expenses.  This is in contravention of law.   10.     Mohota  Mills released workers and paid  them  for canvassing  work  for  respondent  No.  1  on  polling  day. Substitutes for these workers were engaged by the mills  and they  were  also  paid.  This was done at  the  instance  of respondent No. I".  There can be no doubt that almost all the instances herein- above  set  out  are extremely  vague  and  lack  sufficient particulars.  Learned counsel for the appel-                             441 lants  invited our attention to the fact that the  Tribunal, while considering the question of vagueness dealt only  with the instances of corrupt practices specified in paragraphs I (a),I (b), I (c), I (d), 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 and not others. He accordingly contended that, by implication, the  Tribunal was not prepared to hold that items mentioned in  paragraphs 1,  3,  9 and 10 were vague.  He urged that at  least  these four items’ must be taken not to be vague and that there  is no  reason why the petitioners should not have  been  called upon to amend the schedule by furnishing better  particulars as  to the rest.  He further urged that, at any  rate,  they were  entitled to a trial in respect of those four items  of corrupt practices.  We cannot agree with learned counsel for the appellants that the items set out in paragraphs 3, 9 and 10 are not vague.  There is no specification therein of  the requisite details which the Act in terms requires.   Section



83(2)  requires not only what may reasonably  be  considered "full  particulars"  having  regard to the  nature  of  each allegation,   but  enjoins  in  terms  that  the   following particulars  should also be given. (1) Names of the  parties alleged  to have committed the corrupt or illegal  practice. (2)  The  date  of the commission of each  such  corrupt  or illegal  practice. (3) The place of commission of each  such corrupt  or  illegal practice.  There can be  no  reasonable doubt  that  the -requirement of "full particulars"  is  one that  has got to be complied with, with sufficient  fullness and clarification so as to enable the opposite-party  fairly to  meet them and that they must be such as not to turn  the enquiry  before  the  Tribunal into a  rambling  and  roving inquisition.  On a careful scrutiny of the list, in Schedule A we are satisfied that none of the items except that  which is  set  out  in paragraph I of item No. I can  be  said  to comply with the requirements of section 83(2).  In this view of the contents of Schedule A, the contention of the learned counsel  for  the appellants is that even  so  the  Tribunal should  have called upon the petitioners to  furnish  better particulars as regards all the other items, by virtue of the ,powers conferred on it under section 83(3), and in the 442 alternative,  it  should have at least called upon  them  to substantiate  the allegation in paragraph 1 in item  No.  1, which  was  sufficiently specific and which,  if  made  out, might have resulted in the election being set aside.  On the question whether or not the Tribunal should have called upon the  petitioners to amend the schedule by furnishing  better particulars,  the  learned  Attorney-General  for  the   1st respondent has invited our attention to the objection  taken in  the  written statement as regards the vagueness  of  the particulars  and to the various orders made by the  Tribunal as appears from the order-sheet of the case.  In the written statement of the 1st respondent paragraph 9 is as follows:   "9. (a) It is, further, submitted that the petition  ought to be dismissed as it does not contain concise statement  of material facts on which the petitioners rely.  Similarly the list of particulars given in the schedule or in the petition are not in compliance with section 83(2).   (b)     Without  prejudice  to  the  generality  of   this objection,  it is further submitted that para V of  petition read with para VI(e) will show that the particulars given in Schedule relate to corrupt and illegal practices alleged  to have  been committed by respondent No. 1 and by  his  agents and persons working on. -behalf of respondent No. I with his connivance.    Such  particulars  are  bad  in   law.    The applicants  are bound to state the names of the persons  who are  alleged  to  have actually  committed  the  corrupt  or illegal practice.   (c)     Paras  1 and 2 of the petition allege  that  there was no free election by reason of general bribery and  undue influence  exercised by and on behalf of respondent  No.  1. Similarly the allegation in para 2 is that the coercion  was the  result  of  manipulation  by ,or  at  the  instance  of respondent  No. 1. Thus these allegations must be  supported by  giving  the necessary particulars regarding  the  names, date and place of commission of corrupt or illegal  practice alleged.   The allegations in paras 1 and 2 of the  petition are  allegations of corrupt and illegal practice within  the mean- 443 ing  of  sections 123, 124 and 125 of the Act, and  are  not allegations  of a general character which do  not  implicate the candidate personally.



 (d)     Further by way of example, para I of the schedule, no names, date of the alleged practices are given.  Same  is the case with the allegations in paras 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,  8, 9 & 10.   (e)     It is for the petitioners to satisfy the  Election Commission  and the Tribunal that the particulars given  are according to law.  This has not been done and the  petition, therefore, ought to be dismissed on this ground".  Now the order-sheet of the proceedings before the  Tribunal discloses  the following.  By order dated the 16th  October, 1952,  the Tribunal decided that the case was in  the  first instance  to  be taken up for decision  on  the  preliminary issues.  Having so decided it passed the following order:  "We  call upon the parties whether they want to add by  way of  amendment  to  the pleadings on facts  which  they  have already  made,  as  in some of the  preliminary  points  the question of fact is involved.  The  respondents do not want to add to their  pleadings  on facts  in  respect  of the above  preliminary  issues.   The petitioners  have made an application under Order  VI,  rule 16,  Civil Procedure Code for striking out some  portion  in paras 3-b and para 4-(d) (2) of the written statement of the respondent No. 1". On the 17th January, 1953, the Tribunal passed the following order:   "The respondent No. 1 prays for time to amend his written- statement  and to ask for particulars.  In the interests  of justice  the  time is granted........  The  application  for amendment  and for particulars to be filed five days  before the  date  of  hearing and copies thereof be  given  to  the petitioners.   The  petitioners shall be  ready  with  their replies on the date of hearing". On the 27th January, 1953, the order is   "The petitioners have filed ’their reply to the  amendment application of the respondent No. 1. The 444 latter  has amended his application, to which there  was  no objection". On the 29th January, 1953, the order is  "The  petitioners do not want to amend their  pleadings  in view of the amendment of the written statement".   In  view  of the specific objection taken in  the  written statement  and the opportunities which the  petitioners  had for  amending the petition which the above orders  disclose, there is considerable force in the contention of the learned Attorney-General that the petitioners, for some reasons best known  to  themselves,  have come forward  with  a  somewhat irresponsible   petition  and  that  while  the  Court   has undoubtedly the power to permit amendment of the schedule of corrupt  practices  by permitting the furnishing  of  better particulars  as regards the items therein  specified,  there was  no duty cast upon the Tribunal to direct suo  motu  the furnishing  of  better  particulars.  It is  true  that  the petitioners  in  the reply that they filed  to  the  written statement  of  the  1st  respondent and  in  answer  to  the objection  that  the particulars as to the  alleged  corrupt practices were vague, said as follows:  "The  petitioners are prepared to give further  particulars if the Tribunal is pleased to permit under section 83(3)  of the Representation of the People Act,.   This  reply was filed on the 16th October, 1952, which  is the  very  date  on  which the first  of  the  above  orders extracted from the order-sheet was passed.  It is also, true that the order dated the 17th January, 1953, shows that  the respondent  No.  1  at one  stage,  indicated  an  intention



himself  to  ask for particulars.  But in a matter  of  this kind   the  primary  responsibility  for   furnishing   full particulars  of the alleged corrupt practices and to file  a petition  in full compliance with section 83(2) of  the  Act was on the petitioners.  While undoubtedly the Tribunal has, in  our  opinion,  taken  all too narrow  a  view  of  their function in dealing with the various alleged defects in  the petition  and in treating them as sufficient for  dismissal, the petitioners are not absolved from their duty to 445 comply,  of  their  own accord,  with  the  requirements  of section  83(2)  of the Act and to remove  the  defects  when opportunity was available.  They cannot take shelter  behind the fact that neither the Tribunal nor the respondent No.  1 has,   in  terms,  called  upon  them  to   furnish   better particulars.  The  position, therefore, on the question of compliance  or otherwise  of the requirements of section 83 of the  Act  is that (1) the verifications in the petition and schedule  are defective  inasmuch as the dates thereof are not  specified, and (2) the schedule of particulars consists of a number  of items of which only one at best could have been taken up for inquiry  by  the Tribunal.  But all the rest were  not  only extremely vague but no amendment was applied for nor was  an opportunity  for amendment of pleadings in general, open  on two   occasions,  availed  of.   Learned  counsel  for   the appellants  urges  that however this may be,  there  was  no justification  for the Tribunal dismissing the  petition  in toto  and  that  it  was  bound  to  have  called  upon  the petitioners to substantiate the first allegation by evidence after striking out, if need be, the rest of the particulars, under the powers vested in it under Order VI, rule 16, Civil Procedure  Code.   On the other hand the  learned  Attorney- General  for  the  respondent No. 1 urges  that  in  such  a situation  it was open to the Tribunal to consider  whether, taking  the  petition as a whole and in  its  total  effect, there  was substantial compliance with the  requirements  of section  83.   He  contends  that if,  in  exercise  of  its judgment,  it  thought  that  there  was  substantial   non- compliance,  notwithstanding  that one out  of  the  various items  may have been specific, it was not bound to  exercise its  discretion in favour of the petitioners by  ordering  a striking out of the various items and to direct the trial of the petition to be confined to one single item which may  be in  order.   The learned Attorney-General argues  that  this would  be really making out for the petitioners a  different petition from what they brought up before the Election  Com- mission and that in this class of cases the Tribunal had the right and the duty to exercise great strictness 446 in  order   that the machinery for setting  aside  elections might  not  be  abused  for the  purpose  of  maligning  the successful  candidate by levelling vague  and  iriesponsible charges  against him.  While there is considerable force  in this  argument,  we think that in a case of  this  kind  the Tribunal  when dealing with the matter in the  early  stages should  not have dismissed the application.  It should  have exercised its powers and called for better particulars.   On non-compliance therewith, it should have ordered a  striking out  of such of the charges which remained vague and  called upon  the  petitioners to substantiate  the  allegations  in respect  of those which were reasonably specific.   We  are, therefore, of the opinion that the order of the tribunal  in dismissing  the  petition outright  was  clearly  erroneous. Notwithstanding this opinion we would, in the normal course,



not  have felt called upon to interfere in this  case  under article 136 after this lapse of time and at the instance  of persons  like the appellants before us who are  mere  voters having  no  direct personal interest in the  result  of  the election.   But there is one other circumstance in this case which  we have  noticed  and which we feel we ought not  to  overlook, though  in  the  course of the arguments the  same  was  not brought to our notice.  Paragraphs 6(a), (b) and (c) of  the application for setting aside the election sets out  certain grounds   of  alleged  disqualification  of   the   returned candidate  to  stand for the election.  It  is  also  stated therein  that  objections in this behalf were taken  at  the time of scrutiny of the nomination papers but that they were summarily  overruled  by the Returning Officer  without  any enquiry   and  that  accordingly  the  objections   to   the disqualification  have been raised in the  application.  The objections are as follows:  "6.  The  material facts in support of the grounds  are  as follows:-   (a)     The  election of candidate for the Madhya  Pradesh State  Assembly in the single member Akola Constituency  was announced to be held on 31-12-1951.  Nominations were to  be filed on or before 15-11-1951, 447 and  scrutiny of nomination was due on 17-11-1951.  At  this time of scrutiny objection was taken to the nomination paper of  respondent  No. 1 on several grounds  but  the  material grounds  were  that respondent No. 1  was  disqualified  for being  chosen  as and for being a Member of  Madhya  Pradesh State  Assembly  under  Chapter III, section 7  (d)  of  the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (Act XLIII of  1951). That  the respondent No. 1 is disqualified to fill the  seat under the Act., because he is the Managing Agent or Managing Director  of  Rajasthan Printing and  Litho  Works  -private limited company under the Indian Companies Act.  He has,  as a  share-holder  and director, interest,  in  contracts  for supply  of  goods,  viz.  stationery,  paper  and   printing materials, etc., to the State Government of Madhya  Pradesh. He has also interest in contracts for the execution of works or  performance of services, such as printing, etc.,  under- taken  by  the  State Government  of  Madhya  Pradesh.   The respondent No. 1 gets a share by way of commission on  sales effected  by  the Limited Company.  He  has,  therefore,  by himself  interest in the contracts of the company  with  the State Government of Madhya Pradesh.   (b)The  respondent  No. 1 is a partner in the  firm  Berar ’General Agency.  The said firm has entered into a  contract for  the performance of cloth distribution on behalf of  the State  Government to retailers and holds a licence  for  the same.   The  respondent No. 1, therefore,  has  interest  by himself in the said contract for the performance of services undertaken by the Government.  (c)The  respondent No. 1 is the proprietor of  the  monthly Journal  "Prawaha"  and  a  by-weekly  paper  "Matru-bhumi". These   publications  print  Government  advertisements   on contract  basis.   The  respondent  No.  1  has,  therefore, interest  in  the  said  contract  for  the  performance  of services undertaken by the State Government Madhya  Pradesh. The  income derived from these contracts by  the  respondent No. 1 are noted in the private accounts of 57 448 the  respondent  No. 1 and their details are  shown  in  the profit  and loss statements filed with income-tax return  of



the respondent No. I for the relevant year and current year.  The  sales and other details of the  "Matru-bhumi"  concern are noted in the private accounts of the respondent No. 1.  These objections were summarily overruled by the  Returning Officer, without any inquiry or any reason’’   These  allegations, if made out with such further  details as  may  be necessary, might well prove  serious  and  bring about  the  setting aside of the election  of  the  returned candidate.    The   1st  respondent  in  answer   to   these allegations states as follows:   "It  is denied that there was any improper  acceptance  of the  nomination paper of respondent No. 1 and in  particular it  is denied that any of the allegations made in  paragraph 6(a),  (b)  &  (c)  of the  petition  constitute  in  law  a disqualifications of section 7 of the Representation of  the People Act.  Without prejudice to this it is submitted  that the  respondent  No. 1 was not suffering from any  of  these disqualifications  in fact on the date of the submission  of the nomination paper".  Having  regard  to the nature of  the  alleged  disqualifi- cation,  which  is  substantially to  the  effect  that  the returned  candidate  had  interest  in  contracts  with  the Government at the relevant dates, it was very necessary that the  matters  should  have been cleared up  in  the  enquiry before the Election Tribunal.  It is not in the interest  of purity    of    elections   that   such    allegations    of disqualification   should  be  completely  ignored   without enquiry  and it appears rather surprising that the  Tribunal should have ignored them and exercised its power to  dismiss the petition.  However reluctant we might be to interfere in a  matter like this after the lapse of three years and  four months  and  with only an year and eight months  before  the general  elections, we feel constrained to send this  matter back  for due enquiry.  But before doing so and in  view  of the   delay  and  other  circumstances  that  have   already happened, 449 we,  in  exercise of the powers which the  Tribunal  in  the normal  course  might  itself  have  exercised,  direct  the striking  out of all the items of alleged corrupt  practices set out in Schedule A excepting the one covered by paragraph I of item 1, i.e., as follows: "That in the month of December, 1951, respondent No. I  had been  to  the premises of Akola Shree  Gurdwara,  where  the Local  Sikh  Community  had  assembled  to  listen  to   the recitation of the holy book ’Granth Saheb’ on the 7th day of the  death  of daughter of one Sardar Suratsingh.   At  this meeting respondent No. 1 canvassed for votes for himself and paid  Rs. 201, apparently as donation to the Gurudwara,  but really as gift for inducing the Sikh Community in the  Akola constituency   in  general  and  the  Sikhs   assembled   in particular to induce them to vote for himself at the ensuing election.  Respondent No. I was guilty of bribery within the meaning of that term in section 123 of the Representation of the People Act".  The  case  will, therefore, go back for enquiry  and  trial with  reference  only to (1) the allegations  in  paragraphs 6(a),  (b) and (c) of the application for setting aside  the election, and (2) the allegations in paragraph 1 of item  1, in Schedule A attached to the application as set out above.  The   Election  Commissioner  will  now   reconstitute   an appropriate  Tribunal  for the purpose.  The  Tribunal  when constituted  and before proceeding to trial will  call  upon the  petitioners  to rectify the lacuna as to dates  in  the verification  clauses in the petition and the schedule.   It



is  to  be  hoped  that the  fresh  proceedings  before  the Tribunal  will  be disposed of at a very  early  date.   The appeal is allowed as stated above but, in the circumstances, without costs. 450