G. V. Sreerama
Reddy & ANR. Vs. Returning Officer & Ors.  INSC 1429 (11 August
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6269 OF
2008 G.V. Sreerama Reddy & Anr. .... Appellant(s) Versus Returning Officer
& Ors. .... Respondent(s)
This appeal, under Section 116A of the Representation of the
People Act, 1951, is directed against the order dated 19.09.2008 of the High
Court of Karnataka at Bangalore in Election Petition No. 4 of 2008 in and by
which the High Court upheld the objection of the Registry that there was no
proper presentation of the election petition in terms of Section 81 (1) of the
1 Representation of the People Act, 1951, (hereinafter referred to as "the
Act"), consequently dismissed the election petition.
Election to Constituency No. 140, Bagepalli, Karnataka Legislative
Assembly was held in the General Elections conducted in the State in 2008.
Appellant No.1 was the candidate of the CPM party. Appellant No.2 was his
election agent. Respondent No.1 is the Returning Officer of Bagepalli
Legislative Assembly Constituency.
No.2 is the Congress candidate who has been declared elected in the election
held on 10.05.2008.
No.3 is the Observer appointed by the Election Commission of India.
According to the appellants, election was held on 10.05.2008 and
counting took place on 25.05.2008.
the Media Officer appointed by the Election Commission announced appellant No.1
as the successful candidate and declared him elected. When the election agents
and counting agents of appellant No.1 had left the 2 place of counting, an
application for re-counting was submitted by the second respondent and
thereafter, second respondent was declared elected. The appellants filed an
election petition under Section 81 of the Act on various grounds pointing out
large-scale irregularities and illegalities committed by respondent-authorities
in the voting and the illegalities of allowing the recounting after announcing
the declaration of appellant No.1 as elected.
On 06.07.2008, the first appellant, through his advocate, Shri
Shiva Reddy presented the election petition before the Registrar (Judicial),
High Court of Karnataka.
Registry of the High Court put up an office objection that as the appellants
were not present at the time of filing of the election petition, the
presentation of the papers were not in accordance with Section 81 of the Act
and as such there was no proper filing of the election petition.
the office objection, the matter was placed before the learned Single Judge of
the High Court dealing with the election petition and arguments were heard. By
the 3 impugned order, the learned Single Judge based on the recorded statement
of Registrar (Judicial) dated 07.07.2008 that "petitioners were not
present while presenting this petition" and finding that it was not a
proper presentation in terms of Section 81, dismissed the election petition.
Aggrieved by the said order, the appellants have filed this appeal before this
We have heard Mr. P.R. Ramasesh, learned counsel appearing for the
appellants and Dr. Sushil Balwada, learned counsel appearing for the contesting
Since the election petition was dismissed at the threshold on the
alleged ground of improper filing, there is no need to traverse various
averments made therein. The only question to be considered by this Court is
whether the election petition as presented was in accordance with Section 81
(1) of the Act and whether the High Court was right in dismissing the same as
it was not presented by the candidate or elector? 4 7) Part VI of the Act
relates to disputes regarding elections. Chapter II therein speaks about
presentation of election petitions to the High Court. Section 80 mandates that
no election shall be called in question except by an election petition
presented in accordance with the provisions of Part VI. Section 81 relates to
presentation of election petitions which reads thus:
of petitions.-- (1) An election petition calling in question any election may
be presented on one or more of the grounds specified in sub-section (1) of
section 100 and section 101 to the High Court by any candidate at such election
or any elector within forty-five days from, but not earlier than the date of
election of the returned candidate or if there are more than one returned
candidate at the election and dates of their election are different, the later
of those two date.
In this sub-section, "elector" means a person who was entitled to
vote at the election to which the election petition relates, whether he has
voted at such election or not.
Omitted by Act 47 of 1966 with effect from 14.12.1966.
election petition shall be accompanied by as many copies thereof as there are
respondents mentioned in the petition and every such copy shall be attested by
the petitioner under his own signature to be a true copy of the petition."
Sub-section (1) makes it clear that any challenge or dispute relating to an
election may be presented in the form of an election petition highlighting the
grounds specified in sub-section (1) of Sections 100 and 101. It further
mandates that the election petition is to be filed only before the High Court
having jurisdiction either by any candidate or any elector within the
sub-section (1), election petition is to be filed within 45 days from the date
of election of the returned candidate.
Sub-section (1) also makes it clear that the election can be challenged not
only by any candidate of such election but also even an elector who was
entitled to vote at the election to which the election petition relates
irrespective of the fact that whether he has voted at such election or not.
Sub-section (3) mandates that depending on the number of respondents mentioned
in the petition, such required copies duly attested by the election 6
petitioner under his own signature to be a true copy of the petition shall be
Learned counsel appearing for the appellants submitted that in the light of the
language used in sub- section (1) there is no compulsion/obligation to present
the election petition by the candidate himself. In other words, according to
him, in view of the fact that the election petitioner had duly executed a
vakalatnama, in favour of his advocate, he is empowered to present it to the
authorized officer of the Registry. It is further contended that presentation
of the election petition by a candidate or elector is not mandatory and if it
is presented by his advocate duly authorized, the same is a proper presentation
in terms of sub-section (1) of Section 81 of the Act. It is also contended that
in cases of substantial compliance and where it is shown that absence was not
to harm the respondent's case and certain exigencies existed which made the
presence difficult, the court should not dismiss the petition merely for
non-compliance with 7 Section 81 (1) of the Act. On the other hand, learned
counsel appearing for the contesting second respondent- successful candidate
submitted that in view of the language used in sub-section (1), it is mandatory
that the candidate or elector is to personally present it before the High
Court. In view of the endorsement by the Registrar (Judicial) stating that the
petitioners (appellants herein) were not present while presenting the election
petition, the impugned order of the High Court dismissing the same cannot be
close look of Section 81 reveals that the two remaining Sub-sections after the
amendment introduced by Act 47 of 1966, i.e. (1) and (3) deal with two
distinct, but inter-related issues. Sub-section (1) deals with the necessary
requirements of any petition challenging an election, and Sub-section (3) deals
with additional requirements as to the petition presented.
Sub-section (1) has five components, (i) the qualification of the petitioner,
i.e. he/she must be either "a 8 candidate at such election" or an
"elector"; (ii) the petition must be presented `by' the petitioner;
(iii) the petition must be based "on one or more of the grounds specified
in sub-section (1) of section 100 and section 101; (iv) it must be presented in
the High Court; and (v) it must be presented within 45 days from, but not
earlier than the date of election of the returned candidate, or if there are
more than one returned candidate at the election and dates of their election
are different, the later of those two dates.
Therefore, all these five requirements are extremely specific and clear. This
inference is further strengthened by Section 86(1) which provides that the
"High Court shall dismiss an election petition which does not comply with
the provisions of Section 81".
Court, on previous occasions, had the chance to interpret Section 81(1). It
must be noted that the Representation of the People Act is a special statute,
and a self-contained regime. In K. Venkateswara Rao and Anr.
Bekkam Narasimha Reddi and Ors., (1969) 1 SCR 679, a question arose whether 45
days period provided under Section 81(1) could be condoned through the
application of the Limitation Act? After examining the relevant provisions of
the Act, this Court held:
Limitation Act cannot apply to proceedings like an election petition inasmuch
as the Representation of the People Act is a complete and self-contained code
which does not admit of the introduction of the principles or the provisions of
law contained in the Indian Limitation Act."
has been reiterated in Hukumdev Narain Yadav vs. Lalit Narain Mishra, (1974) 2
SCC 133, wherein this Court has again read the requirements under Section 81
strictly, while stating that the Act is a self- contained special statute.
interpreting a special statute, which is a self- contained code, the Court must
consider the intention of the Legislature. The reason for this fidelity towards
the Legislative intent is that the statute has been enacted with a specific
purpose which must be measured from the 10 wording of the statute strictly
construed. The preamble of the Representation of the People Act makes it clear
that for the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament or the
Legislature of each State, the qualification and dis- qualification for
membership of those Houses, the corrupt practice and other offences in
connection with such allegations the Act was enacted by the Parliament. In
spite of existence of adequate provisions in the Code of Civil Procedure
relating to institution of a suit, the present Act contains elaborate
provisions as to disputes regarding elections. It not only prescribes how
election petitions are to be presented but it also mandates what are the
materials to be accompanied with the election petition, details regarding parties,
contents of the same, relief that may be claimed in the petition. How trial of
election petitions are to be conducted has been specifically provided in
Chapter III of Part VI. In such circumstances, we are of the view that the
provisions have to be interpreted as mentioned by the Legislature.
One can discern the reason why the petition is required to be presented by the
petitioner personally. An election petition is a serious matter with a variety
of consequences. Since such a petition may lead to the vitiation of a
democratic process, any procedure provided by an election statute must be read
strictly. Therefore, the Legislature has provided that the petition must be
presented "by" the petitioner himself, so that at the time of presentation,
the High Court may make preliminary verification which ensure that the petition
is neither frivolous nor vexatious.
this context, earlier decisions of this Court regarding the interpretation of
Section 81(1) must be understood. In Sheo Sadan Singh vs. Mohan Lal Gautam,
1969 (1) SCC 408, in paragraph 4, this court held that:
High Court has found as a fact that the election petition was presented to the
registry by an advocate's clerk in the immediate presence of the petitioner.
Therefore, in substance though not in form, it was presented by the petitioner
the requirement of the law was fully satisfied."
counsel for the appellant submitted that even though the "form" of
the provision was not followed, i.e. the petition was not presented
"by" the petitioner "personally", in "substance",
it was followed. It is to be noted that in Sadan Singh's case, it is not in
dispute that the petition was presented to the Registry in the immediate presence
of the petitioner. In other words, the officer authorized by the High Court had
an opportunity to verify him but in the case on hand, admittedly, it was
presented only by the advocate and the petitioners were not present before the
Registrar (Judicial). In view of the same, the said decision is not helpful to
the appellant's case. This is because the petitioner therein had, in substance,
complied with the provision as strictly construed.
Learned counsel appearing for the appellants relied on a decision of the High
Court of Rajasthan (Jaipur 13 Bench) in Bhanwar Singh vs. Navrang Singh, AIR
1987 Raj 63. In the case before the learned Single Judge, the election petition
had been presented by one Rajendra Prasad, Advocate and not by the petitioner
himself. It was argued by learned counsel for the petitioner therein that
election petition had been validly presented under Section 81 (1) of the Act
because Section 81 (1) of the Act only makes a provision as to who can file an
election petition and does not deal with as to who should actually present it
before the Registry. It is further submitted that Section 81 of the Act nowhere
provides that the petitioner should be physically present at the time of
presentation of the election petition. The learned Single Judge, after
adverting to the words - "by", "presented" concluded that
these words used in Section 81(1) of the Act have to be given wide meaning and
found that election petition filed through an advocate without the presence of
candidate or elector is valid. We are unable to accept the said conclusion.
14 19) We
have already pointed out that in spite of provisions in CPC and Evidence Act
relating to institution of suit and recording of evidence etc. this Act
provides all the details starting from the presentation of the election petition
ending with the decision of the High Court. In such circumstances, it is but
proper to interpret the language used by the Legislature and implement the same
accordingly. The challenge to an election is a serious matter. The object of
presenting an election petition by a candidate or elector is to ensure
genuineness and to curtail vexatious litigations. If we consider sub-section
(1) along with the other provisions in Chapter II and III, the object and
intent of the Legislature is that this provision i.e. Section 81(1) is to be
strictly adhered to and complied with.
view of the endorsement by the Registrar (Judicial) on 07.07.2008 that the
election petition was presented only by an advocate and not by the election
petitioners, we accept the reasoning of the High Court in dismissing 15 the
election petition. We further hold that as per sub- section (1) of Section 81,
election petition is to be presented by any candidate or elector relating to
the election personally to the authorized officer of the High Court and failure
to adhere such course would be contrary to the said provision and in that event
the election petition is liable to be dismissed on the ground of improper
presentation. Since, the High Court has correctly dismissed the election petition,
the civil appeal fails and the same is dismissed with no order as to costs.
..........................................J. (D.K. JAIN)
..........................................J. (P. SATHASIVAM)
AUGUST 11, 2009.