JYOTI BASU Vs. DEBI GHOSAL
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: CALCUTTA)
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Chinnappa Reddy, J. -
(1.) The first appellant, Jyoti Basu, is the Chief Minister and appellants two and three Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Hashim, Abdul Halim, are two Ministers of the Government of West Bengal. They have been impleaded by the first respondent as parties to an election petition filed by him questioning the election of the second respondent to the House of the People from the 19-Barrackpore Parliamentary Constituency in the mid-term Parliamentary election held in January, 1980. There were five candidates who sought election from the Constituency. Mod. Ismail, the first respondent, whose candidature was sponsored by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was, elected securing 2,66,698 votes as against Debi Ghosal, a candidate sponsored by the Indian National Congress led by Smt. Indira Gandhi who secured 1,62,770 votes. The other candidates Ramjit Ram, Robi Shankar Pandey and Bejoy Narayan Mishra secured 25,734, 12,271 and 2,763 votes respectively. The first respondent filed. an election petition in the High Court of Calcutta questioning the election of the second respondent Mohd. Ismail on various grounds. He impleaded the returned candidate as the first respondent, and the other three unsuccessful candidates as respondents 2, 3 and 4 to the election petition. Besides the candidates at the election, he impleaded several others as respondents, The District Magistrate and Returning Officer was impleaded as the fifth respondent, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the Minister for Information and Publicity, Government of West Bengal as the sixth respondent. Jyoti Basu, the. Chief Minister as the seventh respondent, Md. Amin, the Minister of the Transport Branch of the Home Department as the eighth respondent, Hashim Abdul Halim, the Minister of the Legislative and the Judicial Department as the ninth respondent and the Electoral Registration Officer as the tenth respondent. It was, averred in the election petition that the Chief Minister and the other Ministers of the Government of West Bengal who were impleaded as parties to the election petition had colluded and conspired with the returned candidate to commit various alleged corrupt practices, Apart from denying the commission of the various alleged corrupt practices, the Chief Minister and the other Ministers claimed in their written statements that the election petitioner was not entitled to implead them is parties to the election petition. They claimed that as they were not candidates at the election they could not be impleaded as parties to the election petition. The Chief Minister and two of the other ministers, Hashim, Abdul Halim and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya filed an application before the High Court of Calcutta to strike out their names from the array of parties in the election petition. The application was dismissed by the Calcutta High Court on the ground that the applicants (appellants) were proper parties to the election petition and, therefore, their names should not be struck out of the array of parties. The appellants have preferred this appeal after obtaining special leave of this Court under Art. 136 of the Constitution.
(2.) Shri Somnath Chatterjee, learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the concept of a proper party was not relevant in election law and that only those persons could be impleaded as parties who were expressly directed to be so impleaded by the Representation of the People Act, 1951. He claimed that in any case such persons were entitled to be struck out from the array of parties. On the other hand Shri Sidhartha Shankar Ray, and Shri R. K. Lala, learned counsel for the first respondent submitted that the appellants were proper parties to the election petition and their presence was necessary for a complete, final and expeditious decision on the questions involved in the action.
(3.) To properly appreciate the rival contentions It is necessary to refer to the relevant provisions of the Constitution of India and the two Representation of the People Acts of 1950 and 1951.;
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