Muniraju Gowda P. M. vs Munirathna on 13 October, 2020


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Supreme Court of India

Muniraju Gowda P. M. vs Munirathna on 13 October, 2020

Author: Hon’Ble The Justice

Bench: Hon’Ble The Justice, A.S. Bopanna, V. Ramasubramanian

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                                                               NON­REPORTABLE


                                  IN THE SUPEME COURT OF INDIA
                                  CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


              SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NOS.6787­6788 OF 2020




          SRI MUNIRAJU GOWDA P.M.                                … PETITIONER(S)

                                               VERSUS

          SRI MUNIRATHNA & ORS.                                 …RESPONDENT(S)




                                             ORDER

V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN, J.

1. Challenging the interim orders passed in two interlocutory

applications, one seeking amendment of pleadings and the other

for striking out prayer (c) in the main election petition, the

election petitioner has come up with these Special Leave

Petitions.

Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Rachna
Date: 2020.10.13
15:50:24 IST
Reason:

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2. We have heard learned counsel appearing for the parties.

3. In the elections held to the Karnataka State Legislative

Assembly on 28.05.2018, the first respondent was declared

elected from Constituency No.154, namely Rajarajeshwari Nagar.

4. The petitioner herein challenged the election of the first

respondent by way of an election petition in E.P.No.11 of 2018

before the High Court of Karnataka. The election petition was

filed on 13.07.2018. After service of notice, the returned

candidate who is the first respondent herein filed three

interlocutory applications in I.A. Nos. 2, 3 and 4 of 2019, praying

respectively for:­

(i) Striking out the pleadings in paragraphs 8­30;

(ii) Rejection of the election petition on the ground of lack
of substratum; and

(iii) Striking out prayer (c) in the election petition.

5. The petitioner herein (the election petitioner) also filed two

interlocutory applications in I.A. Nos. 1 & 4 of 2020, praying for:­

(i) Amendment of the election petition by incorporating
additional pleadings; and

(ii) Leave to produce copies of 8 documents.

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6. By a common order passed on 20.03.2020, the High Court

(i) partly allowed I.A.No.1 of 2020 filed by the election
Petitioner;

(ii) fully allowed I.A. No.4 of 2020 filed by the election
petitioner ;

(iii) rejected I.A. Nos. 2 and 3 of 2019 filed by the first
respondent; and

(iv) allowed I.A. No.4 of 2019 filed by the first respondent
for striking out prayer (c) in the election petition.

7. Aggrieved by that portion of the order of the High Court:­

(i) Allowing I.A. No.4 of 2019 filed by the returned
candidate namely the first respondent and striking out
prayer (c) in the election petition; and

(ii) Partially disallowing I.A. No.1 of 2020 filed by himself
for introducing additional pleadings with reference to
the substratum contemplated in section 101(b) of the
Act,
the election petitioner has come up with the above Special Leave

Petitions.

8. The order impugned in the Special Leave Petitions is dated

20.03.2020 but certain events that happened during the

pendency of the election petition, have now changed the entire

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complexion of the game. These events are as follows:­

(i) The first respondent herein along with 12 other elected
members submitted their resignations from the
membership of the house during the period from
01.07.2019 to 11.07.2019;

(ii) On the ground that the Speaker failed to take any
decision on the resignation of those legislators
including the first respondent herein, a few of them
filed a writ petition in W.P.(C) No.872 of 2019 in this
Court. This Court passed an order on 11.07.2019 in
the said writ petition directing the Speaker to take a
decision qua the resignations and to place the decision
before this Court;

(iii) In the meantime, petitions for disqualification were
moved before the Speaker of the Assembly against
those 13 legislators including the first respondent
herein;

(iv) In view of the said development, this Court passed a
couple of interim orders on 12.07.2019 and
17.07.2019;

(v) On 23.07.2019 a trust vote was taken up for
consideration and the resigned members including the
first respondent did not attend. Thereafter, the
Speaker passed 5 independent orders on 25.07.2019
and 28.07.2019 on the various petitions for
disqualification. By these orders, the Speaker rejected
the resignation of the members and disqualified all of

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them till the end of the term of the 15th State legislative
Assembly;

(vi) Challenging the said orders of the Speaker, 9 writ
petitions came to be filed on the file of this Court, one
of them being W.P.(C) No.998 of 2019. In the said writ
petition, there were 6 petitioners, one among them
being the first respondent herein. All the 9 writ
petitions were disposed of by this Court by a judgment
dated 13.11.2019. By the said judgment, this Court
upheld the order of the Speaker on the disqualification
petitions but with a slight modification. The
modification was to the effect that a member
disqualified under the 10th Schedule shall be subjected
to sanctions provided under Articles 75(1B), 164(1B)
and 361B of the Constitution which bars the
disqualified member from being appointed as a
Minister or from holding any remunerative political
post from the date of disqualification till the date on
which the term of his office would expire or if he is re­
elected, whichever is earlier.

9. As a result of the above judgment of this Court, the first

respondent ceased to be a member of the 15 th Karnataka State

Assembly. In the judgment dated 13.11.2019, this Court made it

clear that the disqualification would relate back to the date when

the act of defection took place. This Court also held that a

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pending or impending disqualification action does not become

infructuous by the submission of a letter of resignation, if the act

of disqualification had arisen prior to the letter of resignation.

10. In the light of the events that happened as aforesaid, during

the pendency of the election petition, let us now see the reliefs

sought by the election petitioner before the High Court of

Karnataka in E.P. No.11 of 2018. The reliefs sought were as

follows:­

“Wherefore, the petitioner most respectfully pray that
this Hon’ble Court be pleased to –

a) Set aside Election of Respondent No. 1 to the 15 th
Karnataka Legislative Assembly from Constituency No.
154, Rajarajeshwarinagar;

b) To declare the return candidate Respondent No. 1 as
void of corrupt electoral practice U/Sec. 123 of R.P Act
1950;

c) To declare the petitioner as duly elected to the seat of
Karnataka Legislative Assembly Rajarajeshwarinagar
Constituency No. 154;

d) Pass such other order/s as this Hon’ble Court deems
fit to grant, in the interest of justice and equity;

e) Cost of the proceedings”

11. There can be no quarrel about the fact that as on date, the

grant of relief to the petitioner herein in terms of prayer (a) is only

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academic. This is for the reason that instead of the High Court

setting aside the election of the first respondent, the Speaker

himself has disqualified the first respondent, albeit on a different

ground and the disqualification has been upheld by this Court

during the pendency of the election petition.

12. However, the contention of Mr. Shekhar Naphade, learned

senior counsel for the petitioner is that the petitioner can still

pursue prayer (b) and in the event of his success, he may be

entitled to press for the grant of relief in terms of prayer (c).

Technically, the learned Senior Counsel is right, since the

involvement of a person in corrupt practices, in an election, does

not get washed away, by his subsequent resignation.

13. But there is something that stares at the face. It appears

that when the results were announced, the petitioner was

declared to have secured 82,572 votes, while the first respondent

was declared to have secured 1,08,064 votes. Therefore, in terms

of Section 101 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (for

short the ‘Act’) the election petitioner should satisfy:­

(i) that he received a majority of the valid votes; or

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(ii) that but for the votes obtained by the returned
candidate by corrupt practices, he would have
obtained a majority of the valid votes.

14. As observed by the High Court, pleadings necessary for the

High Court to form an opinion in terms of Clause (a) or Clause (b)

of Section 101 of the Act were not there in the election petition.

Under Section 83(1)(a) of the Act, an election petition should

contain a concise statement of material facts. What constitutes

“material facts” would depend upon the ground on which the

election of a returned candidate is challenged. Several grounds

are enumerated in Section 100(1) of the Act and pleading of

material facts co­relatable to the grounds set out in Section

100(1), forms the bedrock of an election petition.

15. In the election petition, as it was originally filed, there was

no averment of material facts traceable to the ingredients

incorporated in Clauses (a) and (b) of Section 101. This is why

the first respondent herein made the first strike by moving an

application in I.A.No.4 of 2019 for striking out prayer (c).

Actually, I.A.No.4 of 2019 was filed by the first respondent herein

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on 11.10.2019, pointing out that there are no necessary

pleadings with reference to Section 101.

16. It is only after two months of the first respondent filing I.A.

No.4 of 2019 that the petitioner herein moved an application in

I.A.No.1 of 2020 for amendment of the pleadings by incorporating

one paragraph, after the existing para 30 of the election petition.

To be precise I.A. No.1 of 2020 was filed on 11.02.2020 seeking

to incorporate one paragaraph as para 30(a) in the original

election petition. This proposed additional paragraph comprised

of two parts, one relating the alleged corrupt practices and the

other relating to the requirements of section 101 (b) of the Act. By

the order impugned herein, the High Court allowed the

amendment to the extent of first part of para 30(a), but rejected

the amendment as regards the second part which relates to the

ingredients of section 101 (b). As rightly pointed out by the High

Court, the election petitioner cannot be allowed to suddenly wake

up to the reality of lack of pleading of material facts, relating to

his rights in terms of section 101 after more than 18 months of

the filing of the election petition. The same is also barred by

limitation. Therefore, the High Court did the right thing in

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disallowing the second part of the proposed para 30 (a) and in

striking off prayer (c).

17. In any case, the second part of paragraph 30 (a) sought to

be incorporated by way of amendment, does not satisfy the

requirement of pleading of material facts, necessary for the High

Court to form an opinion in terms of Clause (a) or (b) of Section

101.

18. Once it is found that neither the original election petition

nor the amended election petition contains any pleading of

material facts which would enable the High Court to form an

opinion in terms of Section 101, there was no alternative for the

High Court but to strike off prayer (c).

19. There is one more reason why the petitioner cannot

succeed. In the elections in question, there were 14 candidates in

the fray, including the petitioner herein and the first respondent.

In Viswanath Reddy vs. Konappa Rudrappa Nadgouda1, the

Constitution Bench of this Court treated the votes polled in

favour of the returned candidate as thrown away votes, on the
1AIR 1969 SC 604

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ground that he was disqualified from contesting and that the

election petitioner was entitled to be declared elected, in view of

the fact that there was no other contesting candidate. But the

Constitution Bench cautioned that the rule for the exclusion of

the votes secured by corrupt practices by the returned candidate

in the computation of the total votes and the consequential

declaration of the candidate who secured the next highest

number of votes as duly elected, can be applied only when there

are just two candidates at an election.

20. The ratio in Viswanath Reddy (supra) was followed in

Thiru John vs. Returning Officer & Others.2. Though this

case concerned election to the Rajya Sabha through single

transferable votes, this Court observed in this case that it would

be extremely difficult if not impossible, to predicate what the

voting pattern would have been, if the electors knew at the time

of election that one was disqualified. The Court pointed out that

the question as to how many of the voters would have cast their

votes in favour of other continuing candidates and in what

2(1977) 3 SCC 540

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preferential order, remained a question in the realm of

speculation and unpredictability.

21. In D.K. Sharma vs. Ram Sharan Yadav and Others3,

this Court followed the dictum in Vishwanatha Reddy (supra) to

the effect that where there are more than two candidates in the

field, it is not possible to apply the same ratio as could be applied

when there are only two candidates. This principle was also

reiterated in Prakash Khandre vs. Dr. Vijay Kumar Khandre

and Others4, where this Court pointed out “in the present

case, for one seat, there were five candidates and it would

be impossible to predict or guess in whose favour the voters

would have voted if they were aware that the elected

candidate was disqualified to contest election or if he was

not permitted to contest the election by rejecting his

nomination paper on the ground of disqualification to

contest the election and what would have been the voting

pattern.”

3(1993) Supp. (2) SCC 117
4(2002) 5 SCC 568

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22. Therefore, apart from the fact that in the election petition,

there were no pleadings of material facts co­relatable to the

ingredients of clause (a) or (b) of Section 101 of the Act, to

sustain prayer (c), even legally the High Court could not have

granted prayer (c) in view of the fact that there were 14

candidates in the fray.

23. In view of the above, the Order of the High Court does not

call for any interference. Hence these Special Leave Petitions are

dismissed. No costs.

………………………………..CJI
(S.A. Bobde)

…………………………………J.

(A.S. Bopanna)

………………………………….J.

(V. Ramasubramanian)

New Delhi
October 13, 2020

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