Decided on February 26,1960

SURAJRAM Appellant

Referred Judgements :-



Jagat Narayan, J. - (1.)THIS is a writ petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution by one Surajram against an order of the Collector, Ganganagar, setting aside his election to the office of Sarpanch of Kalsisar Panchayat under Rule 19 of the Panchayat Election Rules, 1954 on the ground that he was not, able to read and write Hindi.
(2.)THE election petition was filed by Bhuraram, respondent No. 2, who contested the election for the office of Sarpanch, but was defeated. THE Collector did not declare him to be duly elected as he found that he too was not able to read and write Hindi. THE ground taken in the petition is that Bhuraram himself not being qualified to be elected as a Sarpanch could not file an election petition under rule 19. Reliance was placed on the observations made by a learned Single Judge of this Court in Mohanlal Kothari vs. Mabboob (1) to the following effect - "the election of a person to any post or office should not be lightly disturbed. . . . . . . . . . . . . THE public policy, therefore, also requires that an election should not be lightly disturbed. THEse considerations are such as impel me to say that the expression 'candidate' must be given restricted meaning in sec. 19 (1) and should mean a person who fulfils the qualification of being a candidate under the Act and the Rules. This appears also to be the intention of the Legislature. Under sec. 19 (1) the right to file an election petition is given to a candidate who stood for election or to ten persons qualified to vote at that election. THE right is not given to a man in the street or even to a single voter. Ten voters must act jointly to file the election petition. This shows that the legislature intended to restrict the right. Now the person who is not qualified to stand as a candidate is no more than a voter if he is so. He alone has no right to file an election petition. Can it be taken that he has been given a right to file an election petition simply because he had filed a nomination paper to contest the election ? In my humble opinion this should not be, otherwise it will make the provisions often persons jointly filing the writ petition as merely nugatory. THE word 'candidate' should receive a restricted meaning in sec. 19 (1) and should mean a person who fulfils the conditions precedent for standing for an election. " THE above case related to a municipal election. THE provision of rule 19 of the Panchayat Election Rules is similar. It lays down that the validity of the election may be challenged by a petition presented by a defeated candidate or by any ten duly qualified electors.
With all respect, I am unable to agree with the view taken by the learned Judge in the above case. Where the language used in the statute is unambiguous, Courts are bound to give effect to it regardless of any extraneous considerations unless that would lead to any absurd result. The word 'candidate' clearly and unambiguously means one who offers himself, oris put forward by others as a suitable person or an aspirant or contestant for an office, privilege, or honour. In giving its natural meaning to the word no inconvenient or absurd consequence will ensue.

It is undoubtedly true that the verdict of the electorate should not be lightly set aside. But this public policy has already been taken into consideration by the fra-mers of the law in enacting the grounds on which an election can be set aside. It can only be set aside on account of the violation of a mandatory provision of the law, on account of a corrupt practice or on account of an irregularity which has materially affected the result of the election. There is thus no valid reason for giving an artificial construction to the word 'candidate' used in sec. 19 (1) of the Rajasthan Town Municipalities Act.

The matter can be viewed in yet another light. Names of candidates for the office of Sarpanch are proposed before the Returning Officer before votes are taken. Electors have a right to object that a candidate is not duly qualified to stand and it is for the Returning Officer to dispose of that objection after hearing the parties. A candidate is only allowed to contest the election if the Returning Officer considers him to be duly qualified to stand for election. In Tekchand vs. Banwarilal (2), a Division Bench or this Court held that even if the nomination paper of any candidate is rejected, he will still be considered to be a candidate, who stood for election within the meaning of sec. 19 (1 ). Now,a person whose nomination paper is rejected by the Returning Officer is prima facie not duly qualified to stand for election. If he can be regarded as a defeated candidate, who is authorised to file an election petition, I do not see why a person whose nomination paper is accepted and who actually stands as a candidate and in whose favour some electors record their votes, should not be regarded as a defeated candidate duly qualified to file an election petition.

I accordingly hold that Bhuraram who actually contested the election was qualified to file an election petition under rule 19. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed. .


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