T. N. Angami Vs. Smt. Ravolueu 
INSC 41 (2 February 1971)
CITATION: 1972 AIR 2367 1971 SCR (3) 659 1971
SCC (1) 592
Representation of the People Act,
1951-Corrupt PracticeHospitality and courtesy cannot be equated with corrupt
practice-Chief Minister redressing grievances of people cannot be said to offer
inducement for getting votes.
The appellant was elected to the Nagaland
legislative assembly. He was at the time of his election Chief Minister of the
State. The, respondent challenged the election of the appellant on the grounds
: (i) the appellant incurred or authorised the incurring of expenditure beyond
the prescribed limit in contravention of s. 77 of the Act and thereby committed
corrupt practice within the meaning of s.
123(6) of the Act, (ii) he offered
inducements to the electors by giving feasts and entertaining them and (iii) he
distributed bundles of Corrugated iron Sheets to a Women's Society, with the
object of inducing the members thereof to vote for him. The High Court held
that the appellant committed corrupt practice within the meaning of s. 123(6)
and set aside his election. The other corrupt practices were held not proved.
Allowing the appeal and dismissing the election petition,
HELD:(i) The High Court was in error in
holding on the evidence that expenditure beyond the prescribed limit was
incurred or authorised by the appellant [663 F] (ii)There was no evidence to
indicate that the appellant or any person with his consent or knowledge induced
any of the voters to vote for him by offering them food. On the contrary the
evidence on both sides indicated that it was customary practice in Nagaland to
offer hospitality to the people who visit their house. It would not be correct
to equate ordinary hospitability or courtesy with corrupt practice.
(iii)There was no corrupt motive in the
distribution of bundles of iron sheets. The Society asked for corrugated iron
sheets for a public cause. The appellant was the Chief Minister at the time of
the election and it would not be unnatural for people to make request to the
Chief Minister for a public cause. It would also be reasonable to expect that
the Chief Minister would try to redress the grievances of the people. [665 D]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 1125 of 1970.
Appeal under s. 116-A of the, Representation
of the People Act, 1951 from the Judgment and order dated March 1970 of the
Assam and Nagaland High Court in Election Petition No. 2 of 1969.
S. V. Gupte, S. K. Ghose, Advocate-General,
Nagaland, Naunit Lal, A. R. Barthakar, R. C. Chowdhury and B. K. Dass, for the
660 D.P. Singh, A. K. Gupta, V. J. Francis
and S. P. Singh, for A the respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Ray, J. This is an appeal from the judgment dated 26 March 1970 of the Assam
and Nagaland High Court declaring the election of the appellant void under
section 1 00 ( 1 ) (b) of the Representation of the People Act (hereinafter
referred to as the Act) and further declaring the appellant to have committed a
corrupt practice within the meaning of section 123(6) of the Act for incurring
or authorising expenditure in contravention of section 77 of the Act.
The gist of the finding of the High Court is
that the appellant showed in his return a sum of Rs. 900/as election expenses
after claiming a refund of Rs. 100/but the appellant is found to have' incurred
or authorised expenditure of a further amount of Rs. 154.15 which the appellant
did not include in his return and thereby the appellant exceeded the
permissible limit of Rs. 1000/by Rs.
The finding of the High Court is, that the
appellant incurred or authorised the expenditure of Rs. 90/for what is
described as pink identity cards and secondly incurred or authorised the expenditure
of Rs. 22.65 in respect of purchase of forms and election handbooks and,thirdly
incurred or authorised the expenditure of Rs. 42.50 on 18 trunk calls between
15 January, 1969 and 11 February, 1969 aggregating Rs. 154.15 which sum was not
included in the return of election expenses.
The appellant was at the time of the election
Chief Minister of the State of Nagaland. The appellant and the respondent were
two candidates at the General Election in the year 1969 to the Nagaland
Legislative Assembly from No. 6 Western Angami Constituency. The polling took
place on 6, 8 and 10 February, 1969 and counting of votes took place on 12 February, 1969. The appellant polled 1933 votes. The respondent polled 935 votes. On 12 February, 1969 the result of the election was declared and the appellant having secured
the majority of valid votes was declared to be elected.
The respondent in the election petition
alleged that the appellant included in his return as election expenses the sum
of Rs. 75/paid by him to Kohima Printing Press on 17 January, 1969 for printing
blue identity cards but the appellant did not include in the said return a sum
of Rs.90/by him to Kohima Printing Press on 29 January, 1969 for printing a set
of pink identity cards issued by him. The appellant in his written. statement
denied that lie spent IZs. 90/for the purpose of printing identity cards that
were 661 used by him in any way in his election. The appellant stated that he
spent Rs. 75/only for printing the identity cards which were used in the
election and the same has been properly accounted for in his statement for his
Under section 123(6) of the Representation of
the People Act the incurring or authorising of expenditure in contravention of
section 77 is a corrupt practice for the purpose of the Act. Section 77 deals
with account of election expenses and maximum thereof. The first sub-section
states that every candidate at an election shall, either by himself or by his
election agent, keep a separate and correct account of all expenditure in
connection with the election incurred or authorised by him or by his election
agent between the date of publication of the notification calling the election
and ,the date of declaration of the result thereof both dates inclusive. The
second sub-section states that the account shall contain such particulars' as
may' be prescribed. The third subjection states that the total amount shall not
exceed such amount as may be prescribed. The prescribed maximum for election
expenses is the sum of Rs. 1,000 as will be found in Rule 90(2) of the Conduct
of Election Rules. That is the sum prescribed for the State of Nagaland for State Assembly Election. For other States different amounts are prescribed as
the maximum of election expenses for the State Assemblies.
The relevant issue with regard to the alleged
expenditure of Rs. 90 raises the question as to whether the appellant incurred
or authorised the expenditure of the, said amount.
On behalf of the appellant the owner of the
printing press Vipikejeye gave evidence. He said that the appellant placed an
order (Ex. 10) for 5000 identity cards for election and he also said that
Exhibit 1 1 the blue identity cards were printed in his press. The owner of the
press further said that the appellant did not personally come to place the
order but his party-men came and placed the order' The blue identity card was
not found suitable and the owner of the printing press printed the pink
identity card. The owner was paid Rs. 75 for printing 5000 blue identity cards.
As for the pinkcards the evidence of the owner of the printing press was that
the order for the pink cards was placed on 29 January, 1969 "by the young
man" of the appellant. The owner of the press supplied the pink cards
numbering 6000 and be received the sum of Rs. 90 on 1 February, 1969 and one
Pralie Peseyie paid that sum and took away the pink identity cards. Pralie
Peseyie was said to be a man of the appellant. There was no written order for
the printing job.
The owner of the press specifically said that
he did not receive Rs. 90 from the appellant, 662 The appellant in his oral
evidence said that the blue identity card was ordered by him to be printed and
he entrusted one of his worker to do it. On his return the appellant found that
there was something wrong in the blue identity cards which contained the words
'Vote for T. N.
Angami'. The appellant said that he became
annoyed and asked. the, person entrusted with the printing of the identity
cards to, go immediately to the printing press and get the cards
"reprinted correctly". Afterthat "the man" brought the pink
identity card but he did not tell anything about the payment of such printing
work and that is how the appellant did not account for them. The-appellant
accounted for Rs. 75 as the cost of printing identity cards.
In cross-examination the appellant was asked
whether he asked Pralie Peseyie to pay the cost of the blue identity card
because of the appellant's annoyance. His answer was that he did not say
anything specifically but Pralie Peseyie did something wrong and the latter
felt shy and did not ask any money from the appellant. The appellant's evidence
was that the press submitted the bill for the printing of the blue identity
card and the payment was made by, the appellant but he did not personally go
and pay. In crossexamination the appellant was specifically asked whether the
pink identity cards were produced before him with the bill.
The appellant, answered in the negative. The
appellant was then asked whether before filing the return the appellant had
asked from the press as to what the cost of the printing of the pink identity
cards was. The, appellant's answer was "I bad not paid personally and the
bill was not produced before me I did not enquire". The appellant was
again asked whether the amount for printing pink identity cards was paid. , His
answer was that the amount was paid by Pralie Peseyie.
Pralie Peseyie gave evidence on behalf of the
appellant and said that the appellant was "much annoyed" because
Pralie Peseyie without the appellant's knowledge put the words "Please
vote for T. N. Angami" on the blue identity cards and the appellant asked
Pralie Peseyie to get the identity cards reprinted. Pralie Peseyie therefore
placed order to get 6000 identity cards printed again. He said that he paid Rs.
90 from his own pocket as he felt that it was his responsibility to get the
cards printed correctly. He also said that he never asked the appellant to
reimburse him for that amount of Rs. 90. In cross-examination he was asked whether
he told the appellant that he paid Rs. 90. His answer was in ,the negative.
Pralie Peseyie further said that the words "Please vote for T. N.
Angami" were not on the sample that the appellant gave but the witness
added those words without the knowledge of the appellant. The witness was asked
a direct question as to what amount the witness spent for the appellant in the
election and his 663 answer was "I paid Rs. 90 for the printing of the
pink identity cards and no more".
The High Court held that the amount of Rs. 90
must have been paid to the-press by Pralie Peseyie on behalf of the appellant
and therefore the expenditure was incurred by the appellant as well as
authorised by him in connection with his election.
The respondent in the election petition
alleged that the appellant paid Rs. 90. The Representation of the People Act
uses the words incuffing and authorising the expenditure.
The appellant denied that he paid Rs. 90. It
was never suggested to the appellant that he had authorised the expenditure of
Rs. 90. On the contrary, the positive evidence of the appellant is that he was
annoyed with Pralie Peseyie for introducing the words 'Vote for 'F. N. Angami'
on the blue identity cards and therefore the appellant wanted Pralie Peseyie to
get the cards reprinted correctly.
It is also the evidence of Pralie Peseyie
that he did something wrong and he had to have it corrected. He therefore paid
Rs. 90 out of his own pocket. The most significant feature in ',he evidence is,
that the bill for Rs. 90 was never produced or sent to the appellant whereas
the 'bill for the blue identity cards was sent to the appellant. The manner in
which the appellant reprimanded Pralie Peseyie for adding the words "Vote
for T. N. Angami" would not necessarily involve an obligation to pay and
authorise an expenditure for getting the cards reprinted correctly. If it were
the fault of the press, the press would have to rectify the same. On the other
hand, if the blame fell on Pralie Peseyie he would have to bear the brunt. The
fact that the bill was not sent to the appellant shows that the fault was of
the witness Pralie Peseyie The oral evidence also points to that inescapable
The High Court was in error in holding on the
evidence that the expenditure for Rs. 90 was incurred or authorised by the
appellant. This finding is not supported by the evidence and on the contrary it
is repelled by the evidence. We cannot help observing that both the appellant
and Pralie Peseyie gave evidence in a very straightforward and truthful Manner.
They narrated the correct course of events. We accept their evidence and hold
that the appellant neither incurred nor authorised the expenditure of Rs. 90
for the pink identity cards.
It would, therefore, not be necessary for us
to go into the question whether, the sum of Rs. 41.50 for trunk calls and the
sum of Rs. 22.65 for purchase of forms and hand-books were incurred or
authorised by the appellant. Even if those two sums of money were added, the
return would not be in violation of the maximum amount of Rs. 1000/-.
664 Counsel for the respondent contended that
the findings of the High Court on allegations contained in paragraph 1(a), (f)
and (j) of particulars of corrupt practice mentioned in paragraph 6 of the
petition were incorrect and the High Court should have held that the appellant
was guilty of corrupt practice. Paragraph 1 (a) relates to a charge against the
appellant of having paid Rs. 200 in cash to Dolhoutha Gaonbura of Zubra and one
bag of sugar for entertainment of electors attending a function at Zubra on 25
January, 1969. Paragraph 1 (f) alleges that on 27 January, 1969 a women's
meeting was held at Daklane when it was announced that a procession would be
taken out on 1 February, 1969. About 200 people mostly women formed a procession
shouted slogans to vote for the appellant and the appellant asked them to vote
for him and after the meeting a feast was held at the appellant's house at
which drinks were served to the people. Paragraph 1 (j) alleges that on 27
January, 1969 the appellant and his wife and some other persons came to the
village Pedugei in connection with the election and held a meeting where the
appellant and his wife promised 8 bundles of corrugated iron sheets for the
women of Kiruphema with the object of inducing them to vote for the appellant
and corrugated iron sheets were later on brought from Dimapur by a truck
belonging to Mizielhouto and divided amongst three groups of people. The
appellant in the written statement denied the charges.
The respondent did not have personal
knowledge of the feast alleged in paragraph I (a) of the particulars but three
witnesses were examined on behalf of the respondent. On behalf of 'the
appellant there was the evidence of Dolhoutha and Shitovi Hesso. The High Court
held that the three witnesses on behalf of the respondent were interested in
the success of the respondent and the three witnesses attributed statements
about feast and distribution of sugar to Dolhoutha who denied the same and said
that the people of the village organised the feast with their money. The High
Court correctly found that the quality of evidence on behalf of the respondent
was such that no reliance could be placed upon it.
As to allegations of corrupt practice in
paragraph 1 (f) about the women's meeting the High Court held that there was no
evidence to indicate that the. respondent or any person induced the persons
present to vote or offered them food and fruit. On the contrary, the High Court
found that evidence of bothsides indicated that it was customary practice in
Nagaland to offer hospitality to the people who visit their house. It will not
be correct to equate ordinary hospitality or courtesy with corrupt practice.
With regard to allegations mentioned in
paragraph I (j) and the distribution of bundles of corrugated iron sheets the
High Court 665 held that the women's society asked for corrugated sheets for a
public cause. The 'appellant was the Chief Minister at the time of the
election. It would not be unnatural for people to make requests to the Chief
Minister for a public cause. It would also be reasonable to expect that the
Chief Minister would try to redress grievances of the people.
There is no proof of corrupt motive. We agree
with the High Court that there is no proof of corrupt practice alleged in
paragraphs 1 (a), (f) and (j) of the particulars dealt with above.
For these reasons we accept the appeal and
hold that the appellant is not guilty of any violation of section 123 (6) and
section 77 of the Representation of the People Act. The judgment of the High
Court is set aside. The charge, of corrupt practice under section 123(6) is set
aside. The order setting aside the election of, the appellant and the
declaration avoiding the election under section 100(1)(b) of the Act are both
set aside. The election petition of the respondent is dismissed. The appellant
will be entitled to costs.
K.B.N. Appeal allowed.