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Mairembam Prithviraj and Ors. v. Pukhrem Sharatchandra Singh and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (28 Oct 2016)

Every candidate has to disclose educational qualification to subserve right to information of voter

MANU/SC/1361/2016

Election

Appellant has filed present appeal aggrieved by judgment of High Court of Manipur by which his election to Manipur Legislative Assembly from Moirang Assembly constituency was declared as void. Appellant denied allegation of false declaration. According to Appellant, declaration made by him that he passed Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2004 from Mysore University was a clerical error. Appellant contended that, Respondent failed to plead and prove that the result was 'materially affected' as required under Section 100(1)(d) of Act.

Every voter has a fundamental right to know about the educational qualification of a candidate. It is also clear from the provisions of the Act, Rules and Form 26 that there is a duty cast on the candidates to give correct information about their educational qualifications. It was not disputed that, Appellant did not study MBA in Mysore University. It is case of Appellant that reference to MBA from Mysore University was a clerical error. Section 36(4) of Act mandates that, Returning Officer shall not reject a nomination paper on the ground of any defect which is not of a substantial character.

Contention of Appellant that the declaration relating to his educational qualification in affidavit is a clerical error cannot be accepted. It is not an error committed once. Since 2008, Appellant was making statement that he has an MBA degree. Information provided by him in affidavit filed in Form 26 would amount to a false declaration. Said false declaration cannot be said to be a defect which is not substantial. He was given an opportunity by Returning Officer to produce relevant document in support of his declaration. At least at that point of time he should have informed Returning Officer that an error crept into the declaration. The false declaration relating to his educational qualification cannot be stated to be not of a substantial character. Every candidate has to disclose his educational qualification to subserve the right to information of the voter. Supreme Court upheld findings recorded by the High Court that the false declaration relating to the educational qualification made by the Appellant is substantial in nature.

Section 100(1)(a) to (c) deals with disqualification, corrupt practices and improper rejection of nominations respectively which are grounds for setting aside the election. The sine qua non for setting aside an election Under Section 100(1)(d) is that the result of the election, in so far as it concerns a returned candidate, has been materially affected. An election cannot be set aside on the ground of improper acceptance of any nomination without a pleading and proof that the result of the returned candidate was materially affected. If the nomination of a candidate other than the returned candidate is found to have been improperly accepted, it is essential that election Petitioner has to plead and prove that the votes polled in favour of such candidate would have been polled in his favour. On other hand, if improper acceptance of nomination is of returned candidate, there is no necessity of proof that, election has been materially affected as returned candidate would not have been able to contest election if his nomination was not accepted. It is not necessary for Respondent to prove that, result of election in so far as it concerns the returned candidate has been materially affected by the improper acceptance of his nomination as there were only two candidates contesting election and if Appellant's nomination is declared to have been improperly accepted, his election would have to be set aside without any further enquiry and the only candidate left in fray is entitled to be declared elected.

Mere finding that there has been an improper acceptance of the nomination is not sufficient for a declaration that the election is void Under Section 100(1)(d). There has to be further pleading and proof that the result of the election of the returned candidate was materially affected. But, there would be no necessity of any proof in the event of the nomination of a returned candidate being declared as having been improperly accepted, especially in a case where there are only two candidates in the fray. If the returned candidate's nomination is declared to have been improperly accepted it would mean that he could not have contested the election and that the result of the election of the returned candidate was materially affected need not be proved further. There is no requirement to prove that the result of the election of the returned candidate is materially affected once his nomination is declared to have been improperly accepted. According to Section 80(A) of the Act, High Court will have the jurisdiction to try an election petition. High Court hearing an election petition is not an 'authority' and that it remains the High Court while trying an election petition under the Act. Inherent power of High Court is not taken away when election disputes are adjudicated.

Relevant : Durai Muthuswami v. N. Nachiappan MANU/SC/0246/1973, Sections 100, 80, 53, 36 of Representation of the People Act, 1951

Tags : FALSE DECLARATION   ELECTION   VOID  

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