PROJENGTON MOMIN Vs. ELWIN SANGMA AND ANOTHER
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
Elwin Sangma And Another
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R. S. Bindra, J. -
(1.) IN a triangular contest for 45 -Songsak (Scheduled Tribe) Constituency, Meghalaya Assembly, out of a total of 4996 electors a mere 1177 turned up on 9 -3 -1972, the polling date, to exercise their right of franchise. The counting revealed that no less than 84 votes were invalid and that Sri Elwin Sangma, the respondent No. 1 of this election petition, had scored the highest number of votes, viz., 819. The other two candidates, the election petitioner Sri Projengton Momin and the respondent No. 2 Sri Benjamin Sangma, respectively polled 176 and 98, and both of them forfeited their security deposits. Sri Projengton Momin having felt aggrieved with the conduct of the successful candidate during the course of election campaign filed the instant petition claiming the double relief, namely, that the election of Sri Elwin Sangma be declared void and that instead he should be declared to have been duly elected from the constituency in question.
(2.) IT may be mentioned at the outset that the petitioner had contested the seat as an independent candidate with "two leaves" as his election symbol and the respondent No. 2 had fought the election also as an independent candidate with "bird" as his election symbol. The successful candidate Elwin Sangma had contested the seat as the candidate of the All Party Hills Leaders Conference, hereinafter briefly referred to as A. P. H. L. C., which admittedly was and is the ruling party in the State of Meghalaya, The election symbol of Elwin Sangma was "flower." By common agreement the people of the constituency are 80 per cent illiterate and as such the election symbols had their obvious importance for educating the electorate. The election of Elwin Sangma is challenged on the specific ground that he had been guilty of committing corrupt practices and the nature of such practices is set out in the paras, 9 & 11 of the petition. It is alleged in the said two paragraphs that Elwin Sangma and/or his party agents, workers and supporters with his consent, knowledge and connivance had got printed, and published, dummy ballot papers throughout the constituency which contained two palpable false statements. Firstly, it was mentioned in those dummy ballot papers that one of the candidates for the seat was "Projengton Momin" instead of "Projengton Momin", the actual and correct name of the election petitioner. In the second place, the election symbol shown against the name of Projengton Momin was "boat" instead of "two leaves", which symbol had been allotted to the election petitioner.
In paragraph 11 of the petition it is stated that, the distribution of such false dummy ballot papers had been done by Elwin Sangma personally, and also by his agents, workers and supporters with his consent, knowledge and connivance, and that Elwin Sangma and such persons told the electors that the election symbol of "two leaves" allotted to the petitioner had been withdrawn and that the "petitioner was nowhere". It was pleaded further by Projengton Momin that extensive distribution of such false dummy papers amounted to misrepresentation to the electors on whom undue influence was exercised thereby.
(3.) IN paragraph 17 of the petition are detailed specific instances of the distribution, circulation and exhibition of the dummy ballot papers. Briefly summarised, the particulars of those instances are as follows: -
(i) On the afternoon of 25 -2 -72 the respondent No. 1 circulated and exhibited dummy ballot papers to the electors in a tea -stall at Bollonggiri and told tile electors that the "two leaves" symbol allotted to the petitioner had been withdrawn by the Government and instead he had been allotted the symbol of "boat" and that he was nowhere;
(ii) On the morning of 5 -3 -72 in Dagal Bazar the respondent No. 1 showed the dummy ballot papers while addressing a meeting there and then said that the "two leaves" symbol of the petitioner had been withdrawn by the Government and the petitioner was nowhere;
(iii) On the morning of 6 -3 -72 at Songsak Bazar the respondent No. 1 addressed the electors and exhibited to them the dummy ballot papers and then circulated the same and mentioned to the electors that the symbol of "two leaves" allotted to the petitioner had been withdrawn by the Government and the petitioner was nowhere;
(iv) On 7 -3 -72 one Gatiram, an agent of Elwin Sangma, visited the villages Wagopgiri Norek and Nengsamgiri of Songsak constituency and exhibited the dummy ballot papers, circulated the same to the electors, and apprised the latter that the election symbol of the petitioner had been withdrawn by the Government with the consequence that the petitioner was nowhere.;
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