KANDRU MAJHI Vs. BUDHESWAR MAJHI
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
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S.P. Mitra, J. -
(1.) In this petition the election of the Respondent No. 1 from the 220 Bandwan Assembly Constituency in the district of Purulia, has been challenged. This was a mid -term election which took place on February 9, 1969. The issues raised herein were as follows:
(1) Were the corrupt practices alleged in para. 12 of the petition and in the various sub -paragraphs thereof or any of them committed in the election?
(2) Were such corrupt practices or any of them committed by the Respondent No. 1 or any of his agents or his election agent or by other persons with the consent of the Respondent No. 1 or his election agent as alleged in para. 12 of the petition?
(3) Was the result of the election materially affected (a) by improper reception, refusal, or rejection of votes or (b) by noncompliance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and Rules and Orders thereunder as alleged in para. 14 of the petition ?
(4) To what relief, if any, is the Petitioner entitled ?
(2.) Issue No. (3) was not pressed at all. A few vague allegations were made by the Petitioner when he was on the witness -box; but counsel appearing for him did not advance any arguments in support of this issue. We are, therefore, concerned with issues Nos. (1) and (2) except that the Respondent No. 1 had no election agent. In various sub -paragraphs of para. 12 of the petition numerous allegations of corrupt practices have been made against the Respondent No. 1. Broadly speaking, these are allegations of bribery indulged in by the Respondent No. 1 in various places within his constituency with a view to induce voters either individually or collectively to vote for him. In course of the trial the Petitioner withdrew many of the allegations from time to time. There are also some allegations which were not formally given up but were not proved. The defence of the Respondent No. 1 is a plea of alibi. He has said that he had not visited the places mentioned in para. 12 of the petition at all.
I have, therefore, first to consider whether his plea of alibi can be accepted and, if not, what is the effect thereof. Secondly, most of the persons alleged to have been birded have said to me that at the time they accepted money they did not know that they were committing an offence. In the premises, I have to decide whether their evidence should require corroboration. I intend to dispose of, these two points first before taking up the allegations of corrupt practices on which counsel for the Petitioner ultimately relied.
(3.) Budheswar Majhi, the Respondent No. 1, has deposed before this Court that the Congress office at Purulia placed a jeep at his disposal only on February 5, 1969, when he started moving round his constituency on an extensive scale. Since the vehicle could be used by him only for four days, he found it impossible to visit all the principal centers in his constituency. The result was that he did not visit at all the places where he was alleged to have bribed voters either individually or collectively. In Q. 124, Budheswar says that before the evening of February 5 he was carrying on his election work on a bicycle and was also visiting places nearby on foot. In Qs. 980 -984 his evidence is that he does not remember the places he had visited before February 5, 1969; but he does remember what had happened after he got the jeep from the Congress office. In Qs. 807 -808, his positive evidence is that he used the jeep given to him by the District Congress office on February 6 to 9, 1969. He could not get it earlier. In Qs. 719 -732, he gives a list of places which he could not visit at all. He says he did not visit (1) Madhubon, (2) Janijhar, (3) Krishtopur, (4) Radhamohanpur, (5) Bikramdih, (6) Gangamannamodi, (7) Sirka, (8) Dhadka, (9) Kutchia, (10) Akrow and (11) Kumra. Of these eleven villages seven villages have been referred to in the petition as places of alleged commission of corrupt practices. These are (1) Madhubon, (2) Radhamohanpur, (3) Bikramdhi, (4) Gangamannamodi, (5) Sirka, (6) Dhadka and (7) Akrow. He says he tried to visit principally those villages in which the Santhali speaking people live. He is himself a Santhal and the villages he did not visit were those where there were either no Santhali speaking people or a very few of them. His opponent Kandru Majhi, the Petitioner herein, is also a Santhal, but he expected that voters belonging to his community might be 'kind enough' to vote in his favour. He had only four days time to visit different places in his constituency by jeep. If he had got the vehicle earlier, he would have gone to the places mentioned above. He made representations to the District Congress office to let him have a jeep earlier, but the Congress office could not comply with his request.;
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