Decided on December 16,1969



Jaganmohan Reddy, C.J. - (1.)The question in this writ petition is whether the Election Tribunal has jurisdiction to go into the question of improper reception of a Vote by reason of the voter being a minor, notwithstanding the fact that his name is found on the electoral roll. The Election Tribunal relying on the judgment of the Full Bench of this Court, of which one of us was a party in C. Goverdhan Reddy v. Election Tribunal, Bapatla held that it has jurisdiction. It was contended before it that the observations of the Full Bench were obiter, which contention was not accepted. The Election Tribunal therefore set out to take evidence in respect of those Voters to determine whether some or all the voters were minors and if so to reject their votes. Sri Babulu Reddy the learned Counsel for the petitioner contends that there is nothing in the Full Bench judgment which warrants the Tribunal to assume jurisdiction, because according to him once the voter through a process prescribed in the Representation of the People Act, 1950, comes on the register, he is entitled to vote and there can be no question of any improper reception of a vote. It is further contended by him that what was decided in the Full Bench case was that an election of a candidate who does not satisfy the requirement of age, can be gone into because he has to give his date of birth in the nomination paper and declare that it is correct, and that it is in respect of a false declaration that the Tribunal has jurisdiction to go into, as it amounts to an improper reception of a nomination paper. Mr. Choudary on the other hand, contends that there is no distinction between the two because both the candidates as well as the voter have to find their names in the Voters' list and if a voter is below the age prescribed by the Constitution under Article 326, the mandate not having been obeyed, his registration on the voters' list must be deemed to be non est, void and nullitv. If it is so, he submits that that fact can be challenged and enquired into in any proceeding in which it is pursued. The Tribunal therefore was not wrong in assuming jurisdiction to decide a matter which is ab initio void. The difficulty which we feel in this case is that there is a Bench decision of this Court decided by Chandra Reddy, C.J., and Chandrasekhara Sastry, J., in K. Ramachandram v. D. beshayya, which is directly against the proposition contended by Sri Choudary viz., that the Court can go into the question whether the persons who have voted are minors or not, notwithstanding the fact that their names appear in the voters' list. The Bench rejected this contention and said that it cannot and in fact it reversed the finding of the Election Tribunal where it had enquired into and rejected the votes on the ground that they were minors, notwithstanding the fact that their names appeared in the voters' list. What the Full Bench was dealing with was whether a candidate who had been successful could be unseated on the ground that he was less than 21 years of age. While no doubt there are certain passages upon which both the learned Advocates can rely upon in support of their respective contentions the Full Bench advisedly refrained from expressing any opinion on this particular aspect of the matter. Sambasivarao, J. who spoke for the Court after pointing out the distinction between the two categories of cases viz., whether the nomination of a candidate who was successful was improperly received and the improper receipt of vote on the ground that that the elector's age was not as required under the law, observed at page 71:
"Any way, the question of validity of a vote is not before us and it is not necessary for us to decide that question in these writ petitions. We do not therefore propose to deal with that question in these writ petitions."

(2.)In view of this categorical statement and the arguments pro and contra on several aspects of the matter which have not been considered or dealt with in the Full Bench case we think the decision in K. Ramachandram v. D. Seshajya, has to be reconsidered. It may also be pointed out that the above Bench decision has not been specifically disapproved or overruled. Apart from this, there are two Full Bench decisions of other High Courts. Roop Lai v. Dhan Singh, and P. Kunhiraman v. Krishna Iyer, the former being in favour of Babul Reddi's contention, while the latter seems to support Mr. Choudary's contention-which have not been considered. In view of this, we think this is a fit case which may be placed before a Ful 1 Bench for decision. As the Elecitons have taken place in 1967 and the matter is pending before the Tribunal, office will prepare expeditiously papers so that the Full Bench can be constituted sometime in the first week of September 1969.
(3.)In pursuance of the above said order, this petition coming on for final hearing before the Full Bench.

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