Bhanu Kumar Shastri Vs. Mohan Lal
Sukhadia & Ors  INSC 30 (22 January 1971)
CITATION: 1971 AIR 2025 1971 SCR (3) 522
The Representation of the People Act (43 of
1951), ss. 116A, 116C and 123(1)-If provisions of O.42, r. 22 of Civil
Procedure Code are applicable to appeal to Supreme Court under s. 116C.
Chief Minister of State a
candidate-Amelioration of public grievances by his orders-When amounts to
The first respondent was successful in the
election to the State Legislative Assembly. At the time of election he was the
Chief Minister of the State. The election was challenged by the petitioner on
the allegations that by ordering the covering of a nallah, the construction of
a road, the installation of water caps and the grant of pattas to the
inhabitants of a colony for construction of houses, the first respondent made a
bargain with the people for votes and thus committed corrupt practice as
defined in s.
123(1) of the Representation of the People
Though the High Court found certain facts
against the first respondent, it decided all the issues in his favour and
dismissed the election petition.
In appeal to this Court,
HELD : (1) On the evidence, oral and
documentary, the findings of fact found against the first respondent by the
High Court should be reversed, even though no appeal was preferred by the first
respondent . [541 G-H; 542 H] (2) When it appears that the High Court had not
taken into consideration the entire documentary and oral evidence in arriving
at a finding and that the High Court had overlooked such important and crucial
evidence, this Court is justified in deciding in favour of the respondent,
after considering that evidence by reversing the findings of fact arrived at by
the High Court. [542 G-H; 543 A-B] (3) Under s. 116C of the Act, the procedure
in an appeal under s. 116A to this Court is that subject to the provisions of
the Act and rules, if any, made thereunder, every appeal shall be heard and
determined by this Court as nearly as may be in accordance with the procedure
applicable to the hearing and determination of an appeal from the final order
passed by a High Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction and the
provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and the rules of the Court shall, as
far as possible, apply in relation to such appeal. There are no rules of this
Court, and the provisions contained, in 0.41, r. 22, C.P.C., are attracted with
the result that the respondent may support the decision of the High Court even
on any ground decided against him, without preferring an appeal. [542 B-D]
Ramanbhai Ashabai Patel v. Dabhi Ajitkumar Fulsinji,  1 S.C.R. 712 and T.
N. Angami v. Smt. Ravalu alias Renu M. Shaiza, C.A. No. 1125/1970 dt. 21.1.1971,
523 (4) Ordinarily amelioration of grievances
of the public is innocuous, and cannot be construed against a candidate who is
a Minister. If, however, there is evidence to indicate that any candidate at
the election abused his power and position as a Minister in the Government by
utilising public revenues for conferring advantage or benefit on a particular
group of people for the purpose of obtaining their votes, different
considerations will arise and it may be held to be a corrupt practice within
the meaning of s. 123(1) of the Act. [544 D-F] In the present case, in all the
instances relied upon by the appellant the evidence showed that there were long
standing public grievances and the Government had from time to time made
suggestions and recommendations for redress of the grievances and amelioration
of the condition of the people.
It cannot be said that on the eve of election
there was any sudden or spontaneous outburst of public activity in the shape of
diverting money to win electors to the side of the first respondent by throwing
baits or giving them any particular and specially favoured treatment. [544 G-H;
545, A] Ghasi Ram v. Dal Singh  3 S.C.R. 102 and Om Prabha Jainv. Abhash
Chand,  3 S.C.R. 111, referred to.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 1515 of 1968.
Appeal under S. I 16-A of the Representation,
of the PeopleAct, 1951 from the judgment and order dated May10, 1968 of' the
Rajasthan High Court in Election Petition No. 8 of 1967.
A. S. Bobde, Guman Lal Lodha, J. S. Rastogi,
Jagadish, Pandya, M. L. Vaidya, D. V. Dani, S. S. Parekh, S. S.
Khanduja and N. K. Shejwalkar, for the
S. Mohan Kumaramangalam, I. L. Gobhil and K.
Baldev Mehta, for respondent No. 1.
M. B. L. Bhargava, S. N. Bhargava and Sobhag
Mal Jain, for respondent No. 4.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Ray, J. This appeal is against the judgment of the Rajasthan High Court dated
10 May, 1968, dismissing the Election Petition filed by the appellant against
the respondent Mohan Lal Sukhadia.
The election of respondent Mohan Lal Sukhadia
to the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly from the Udaipur City Assembly
Constituency was challenged. The appellant contested the election on Jan Sangh
ticket. The respondent contested on Congress ticket. The respondent was the
Chief Minister of Rajasthan at the time of the election. Respondent No. 2 Mohan
Lal also contested the election but obtained only 1262 votes. Respondents 524
Narendra Singh Lakheri and Girdhari Lal Sharma Nos. 3 and 4 respectively
submitted their nomination papers but withdrew 'them. For the purpose of this
appeal we are concerned only with the respondent Mohan Lal Sukhadia.
The polling took place on 15 February,1967.
The result was declared on 21 February, 1967. Therespondent polled 24272 votes.
The petitioner obtained 20841votes. The respondent won by a margin of 3434
After the election the Congress Party
wasreduced to a minority. The respondent Sukhadia Who was theChief Minister
tendered his resignation.
On 13 March, 1967, the President's Rule was
declared in Rajasthan, which was withdrawn after a period of 44 days on 26
April, 1967. Thereafter the respondent Sukhadia again became the Chief
The election petition was filed on 7 April,
1967. The respondent Sukhadia filed an application praying that certain
allegations in the petition were vague and lacking in particulars required by
Section 83 of the Representation of the People Act and, therefore, the
allegations should be struck off. The High Court ordered the petitioner to file
a detailed reply giving full particulars in respect of each matter. On 29 May,
1967, the appellant furnished particulars. The High Court by orders dated 3/5/6
July, 1967 allowed the appellant to incorporate the said particulars in the
amended petition and further allowed the appellant to furnish more particulars
in respect of other allegations of corrupt practices. On 19 July, 1967, an
amended Election Petition was filed incorporating the amendments allowed by the
High Court. Thereafter written statements were filed and the parties filed
applications under Rule 12 of the Election Rules for production of the
documents. Issues were framed on 14 August, 1967. The appellant filed a
'finally amended petition on 13 November, 1967.
The appellant examined 30 witnesses and the
respondent Sukhadia examined 46 witnesses.
The High Court decided all the issues in
favour of the respondent Sukhadia and dismissed the Election Petition but left
the respondent to bear his own cost.
In the present appeal we are concerned only
with issues Nos.3 (a) and 4 (a). Issues Nos. 3 and 4 are as follows :
3 (a) Are the allegations made in paragraphs
8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Election Petition correct ? 525 3 (b) If so, did the
respondent No. 1 commit the corrupt practice specified in Section 123 ( 1 ) or
Section 123 (2) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 ? 4 (a) Are the
allegations mentioned in paragraphs 12, 13, 14 and 15 of the Election Petition
correct? 4 (b) If so, did the Respondent No. 1 commit corrupt practice
specified in Section 123 (4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 ? As
to issue No. 3 based on paragraphs 8, 9,.10 and 11 of the Election Petition,
allegations of corrupt practice of bribery and undue influence concerned with
the construction of certain works of general public utility to the inhabitants
of Udaipur like the covering of Baluchistan Colony Nallah, construction of road
at Tekri, installation of water-taps in Udaipur City and the grant of Pattas
to-the inhabitants of the Raigar Colony.
In the petition the appellant made 74
allegations. At the trial 55 allegations were given up. In the present appeal
the appellant pressed allegations first about Pattas in Raigar Colony;
secondly, about roads in Tekri; thirdly, covering of Nallah in Baluchistan
water Ex. 8-A as defamatory of the personal character and conduct the
The appellant's case with regard to Raigar
Colony is to be found in paragraph 9 of the amended petition. The gist of the
allegation is as follows:-The, respondent Sukhadia, his agents and other
persons with the consent of Sukhadia promised the voters of the Raigar Colony,
Udaipur at a meeting that he would get them Pattas issued at a nominal rate of
Re. 1/only for the construction of their houses and under this inducement he
asked the Raigar voters to vote for him. Because of this inducement many Raigar
voters voted for the respondent Sukhadia. The respondent Sukhadia by his undue
influence as Chief Minister got issued an order No. 66/5077 dated 10 February,
1967, from the Director, Social Welfare Department, Jaipur to grant Pattas to
Raigars of Thakker Bapa Colony for construction of houses at a nominal price of
1/for each patta. The respondent Sukhadia
thus committed corrupt practice as defined under S. 123(1) of the
Representation of the People Act. Girdhari Lal, election agent of the
respondent 526 Sukhadia arranged a meeting on 5 February, 1967 at the Raigar
Colony. About 100 persons gathered. The audience consisted of Harijans and
Raigars. Prominent persons among these were Kalu Raigar, Shankar Harijan and
Keshulal, the Secretary of the Raigar Colony. At this meeting the respondent
Sukhadia said that he was managing Pattas of the land to be allotted to them
for Re. 1/each and he requested them to vote for him.
The High Court held that it had not been
proved that the respondent Sukhadia made a bargain with the people of Raigar
Colony on 5 February, 1967, that if they promised to vote for him he would
arrange for the grant of Pattas to them at a nominal charge of Re. 1/each
The respondent Sukhadia stated that the,
order dated 5 February, 1967 (Ex. 271) passed by him and the order dated 10
February, 1967 (Ex. 44) passed by the Director of Social Welfare were in
furtherance of the policy of the State Government announced as early as 27
April, 1959 (Ex. A-99) and further clarified by a subsequent order dated 26
February, 1962 (Ex. A-100). Neither in the original petition nor in the amended
petition there was any mention of recovery of development charges by the Urban
Improvement Trust in connection with the issues of Pattas. Sukhadia's evidence
was that the Urban Improvement Trust under the aforesaid orders of 1959 and
1962 were to issue Pattas after receiving the nominal charge of Re. 1/per patta
from the inhabitants of the locality without insisting upon the recovery of
development charges as condition precedent to the issue of Pattas.
The correspondence which was tendered in
connection with the Raigar Colony indicates that from the year 1955 up to the
month of July, 1967, certain controversies were going on between the Grihya
Nirman Sahkari Samiti, Thakker Bapa Colony on the one hand and the City
Improvement Committee and the Urban Improvement Trust on the other. The City
Improvement Committee which was the predecessor of the Urban Improvement Trust
from the beginning took the stand that Pattas in respect of the houses in
occupation of the original inhabitants of the locality could not be issued
unless they agreed to pay the price of the land and the development charges
incurred by the City Improvement Committee. The Samiti on the other hand was
anxious to see that the Pattas were granted without having to pay development
charges because the people were poor. In Ex. A-99 dated 27 April, 1959, the
State Government made an order laying down the conditions on which the Pattas
of the houses could be issued on payment of the nominal price of Re. I/-.
Thereafter 527 there was demand for issue of
Pattas on payment of Re. I/-.
The Social Welfare Department wanted the
order dated the 27 April, 1959 to be implemented and the City Improvement
Committee insisted on payment of development charges amounting to Rs.
14,828.94. The attitude of the Government as represented by the Social Welfare
Department was that Pattas should be issued to the inhabitants of the locality
in terms of 27 April, 1959 order on payment of Re. 1/only per Patta. The Urban
Improvement Trust and the City Improvement Committee were equally insistent on
payment of development charges.
Ex. 44 being a letter dated 10 February,
1967, issued by the Director of Social Welfare Department to the District
Welfare Officer was the sheet-anchor on which the appellant relied. A copy of
that letter was sent to Keshulal, Secretary of the Grihya Nirman Sahakari
Samiti, Thakker Bapa Colony. In that letter it was stated:........ it is
submitted that there are directions from the Government on the application of
Keshulal...... that action be taken without delay in granting pattas to the
residents of that Raigar Colony, Udaipur, on payment at the rate of Re.
I/-." This letter dated 10 February, 1967 (Ex. 44) seems to have had
origin in 1959 and the discussions in the year 1966 as will appear from Ex. 268
being an application dated 29 December, 1966, addressed by Keshulal as
Secretary of the Colony to the respondent Sukhadia as Chief Minister. 'Mere is
a noting on that application in the hands of the Chief Minister to the effect
"Secretary Social Welfare Officer to discuss the question of subsidy of 52
of the colonies and Pattas." That noting was on 28 December, 1966. On 31
December, 1966 the Secretary wrote as follows "Please speak immediately .
D.S. (Deputy Secretary) Social Welfare." In this background it is
unmistakable that the demand of Raigar Colony for Pattas was as old as, a
decade and the inhabitants of the colony saw the Chief Minister in December,
1966 and he asked the relevant department to look into the matter. Exs. 270
dated 21 January, 1967 and 271 dated 5 February, 1967 are office notes and order
pursuant to the application sent by Keshulal in the month of December, 1966.
The Director Social Welfare Department in Ex. 270 stated that "Pattas were
not granted because the development charges were not paid." The Secretary,
Social Welfare Department made a note on Ex. 270 that the Chief Minister
(Respondent Sukhadia) was going on tour on 24 January, 1967, therefore, there
was no possibility of discussion in the near future. On 5 February, 1967, there
is a noting by the Chief Minister on the file that the Raigar residents were
ready to get Pattas on payment of Re.
I/and after getting the amount 528 deposited
action should be taken in getting the pattas granted to ,them and the Social
Welfare Officer should be asked to pay personal attention to take action in the
matter and other problems such as setting up industries, water arrangements
etc. These documents show that Ex. 271 dated 5 February, 1967 was an office
note on the file and did not have any independent existence. The Chief Minister
was asked to give his directions on Keshulal's application in the month of
December, 1966. The Director of Social Welfare, therefore, on 10 February, 1967
wrote Ex. 44 "about grant of Pattas to the residents of the colony."
Under Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, bribery is
mentioned as a corrupt practice and bribery is any gift offer promise by a
candidate................ of any gratification to any person whosoever with the
object of directly or indirectly inducing (b).............. an elector to vote
in an election." The appellant's allegations were these. Girdhari Lal,
election agent of respondent Sukhadia, arranged a meeting on 5 February, 1967
at Raigar Colony, 100 persons gathered.
The audience consisted of Harijans and
Raigars. The respondent Sukhadia at that meeting said that he was managing
pattas of the lands allotted to Raigars and Harijans for Re. 1/each and
requested them to vote for him. These particulars of the meeting were furnished
by way of amendment. Apart from the baldness of allegations as to bargain for
votes, the oral evidence adduced on behalf of the appellant was that of P.W. 4
Lakshmi Narain and P.W. 12 Kalu Ram. It is significant that Shankar Harijan and
Keshulal, who were mentioned by the appellant as having been present at the
meeting were not examined. Kalu Ram was a member elected to the Municipal
Council, Udaipur on Jan Sangh ticket. Lakshmi Narain was neither a Harijan nor
a Raigar. The appellant alleged that the audience consisted of Harijans and
Raigars. Lakshmi Narain said that when the respondent Sukhadia began addressing
a meeting a Harijan and a Raigar are stated to have stood up and mentioned that
the Urban Improvement Trust was not permitting them to build an upper storey on
the ground that they had not got pattas and respondent Sukhadia is supposed to
have said that he would get pattas prepared and asked them to vote. The
question of building the second storey was nowhere to be found in the
allegations in the petition.
Kalu Ram said nothing about the alleged
bargain for votes.
On the contrary, Kalu Ram said that he did
not remember to have heard any conversation and he did not state anything about
pattas being prepared from Jaipur and being sent to Udaipur before the polling
date, though Lakshmi Narain deposed to that effect. If 529 the Urban
Improvement Trust, Udaipur was the authority forissuing pattas it is
unbelievable that the respondent though Chief Minister of the State would make
a promise for getting the pattas prepared at Jaipur and send them to Udaipur.
Lakshmi Narain said that he was taken by Kalu
Ram to the appellant 5 or 6. months after the election. The appellant then
asked Lakshmi Narain whether parchas (leaflets) had been distributed. Lakshmi
Narain is supposed to have showed a parcha Ex. 8-A whereupon the appellant
asked Lakshmi Narain if the latter could give evidence incourt about
distribution of Ex. 8-A. Even at that time LakshmiNarain did not utter a word
about the meeting on 5 February, 1967 and far less of any bargain by respondent
Sukhadia for votes at the election. Lakshmi Narain was an interested witness
because he brought Ex. 8-A of his own accord, though he was not summoned to
produce any document in Court. Kalu Ram the other witness admitted that as
early as 1959, the Rajasthan Government passed an order that pattas be issued'
to the residents of Raigar Colony on a payment of Re. 1/-. This was merely
implementing what the Government had decided in 1959. The respondent's office
note on 5 February, 1967, was nothing new and there was no, temptation offered
The tour programme of the respondent Sukhadia
was exhibited i.e. Ex. A-1 16. Between 3.00 p.m. and 5.00 p.m. on 5 February,
1967, respondent Sukhadia spoke at a meeting of Sindhi Samaj at 4.00 p.m. That
statement of Sukhadia was put to him in cross-examination to be correct.
Girhari Lal, the agent of Sukhadia, also spoke of the correctness of the tour
programme of Sukhadia and no challenge was made. Roop Kumar P.W. 3 also spoke
of the meeting at Sindhi Samaj at about 4.00 p.m. and he was not
cross-examined. Nowhere in the election petition the appellant mentioned the
time of the meeting at Raigar Colony on 5 February, 1967. In the tour programme
of the respondent Sukhadia it will appear that he met the Kerala Samaj on 5 February,
1967 between 3.30 p.m.
and 4.00 p.m. at Vidhya Peeth. Between 4.00
and 5.00 p.m.
he was at Sindhi Samaj and between 5.00 and
5.30 p.m. he met Gujrati Samaj near Fateh School. The respondent Sukhadia held
a meeting of the Sindhi Samaj at Saletia Ground behind the Vidhya Peeth on 5
February 1967 at 4.00 p.m. The police record contained in the file which was
summoned at the instance of the appellant contained a copy of the tour
programme of respondent Sukhadia which tallied with the tour programmes produced
by the respondent Sukhadia and orally deposed to by Sukhadia and witnesses on
Ex. 109 was a copy of the cyclostyled address
presented to, the respondent Sukhadia on behalf of Sindhi Refugees at their
meeting on 5 February, 1967. This is an additional ground to, 530 support the
respondent Sukhadia's evidence. The oral evidence of Lakshmi Narain and Kalu
Ram is unworthy of belief. The documentary evidence fortifies the oral evidence
of respondent Sukhadia that there was no meeting of Raigars and Harijans at
Udaipur on 5 February, 1967.
The assertion made by the appellant that the
order dated 5 February, 1967 was passed by the respondent Sukhadia on the
,stationery of the Chief Minister is baseless. The original belies that case.
On the contrary the order dated 5 February, 1967 is nothing but a noting by the
Chief Minister on the file which had been started pursuant to the order of the
Government in the year 1959 and occasioned more so because of the application
made by Keshulal in the month of December, 1966.
The High Court rightly rejected the oral
evidence of bargain and charact erised the evidence on behalf of the appellant
as being wholly "concocted and fabricated." Counsel for the appellant
submitted that the respondent Sukhadia also made an order for remission of
development charges. 'The documents relied on by the appellant do not support
any such charge. This is a new case in this Court.
There is no foundation for it in the
pleadings. This case was not made in the High Court. Therefore, this case
cannot be allowed to be made at this stage.
The second corrupt practice on which the
appellant relied is to be found in paragraph 8 of the petition as amended.
Broadly stated the appellant's allegations
were that the respondent Sukhadia ordered Public Works Department (P.W.D.) to
construct a road at Tekri though it was a municipal area and P.W.D. had no
jurisdiction and further that the respondent held a meeting on 5 February,
1967, and during his speech said that he was arranging for construction of
roads and installation of water-taps and requested the people to vote for him.
This part of the appellant's case concerns an area called Tekri. There was a
new railway station and a yard was constructed that necessitated new road
linking police lines to a place called Salumbar road junction. P.W.D. undertook
to construct a road and when constructed that would have made a thoroughfare
through the Police Lines from the Railway Station to the Block Office.
The police authorities objected. The Banjara
Samiti which took up the cause complained about the obstruction by the police.
Work was held up. This was in the year 1965-66.
When the Police Lines were constructed a
short link route to Tekri village was closed. Therefore, it was decided to
construct an approach road to Tekri. When the thoroughfare through the Police
Lines was abandoned in the year 1966, the 531 Executive Engineer took a
decision to upgrade a part of the road and to use tarred road to make a
thoroughfare via village Tekri to give a by-pass to Police Lines. Tekri village
was situated to the East of Police Lines at Udaipur.
The new railway station was to the North-West
of the Jail.
The Jail was also to the NorthWest of the
Police Lines. The proposed road was from the Railway Station to Tekri village
and then beyond the Police Lines to a point to the Block Office from the North
to the South. Tekri village was to the East of the proposed road.
In the original petition the appellant
alleged that the Executive Engineer Chhail Behari Mathur canvassed votes to
support respondent Sukhadia. In the amended petition the appellant alleged that
Chhail Behari Mathur at the instance of the respondent Sukhadia passed orders
for construction of roads. The appellant in his oral evidence said he had no
personal kno wledge and was indefinite as to which road his allegation related
but that it related to a road which ran through Tekri village. Madan Lal,
Chairman of the Municipality and a witness on behalf of the appellant could not
point any road construction by the Municipality after 28 December, 1959, when
Tekri was included in it. Two other witnesses Phoola P.W. 25 and Madan Lal P.W.
28 said that the road at Tekri was completed two or three days before the
polling. The High Court disbelieved both of them.
There are important exhibits as to Tekri road
These are, Contractor's Agreement Ex.A/128
dated 10 February, 1967, Measurement Book Ex.A/129 and Running Bill Ex. 70, all
for earth work. Ex. A/ 130 dated I April, 1967 and Ex. A/ 131 are the Agreement
and Measurement Book respectively and both are for soling. The work was
described "special repairs to approach road to Tekri." On behalf of
the appellant it was emphasized that the change was significant. Ex.A/125 was
the Agreement dated 3 September 1965 for construction of road by Banjara Samiti
in the year 1965 Ex. A/126 is a letter of complaint by the Banjara Samiti
against the hindrance by the Police. These documents A/125 and A/126 both
indicate that when it was intended to have a thoroughfare through the Police
Lines to Jaisamand Board some criticism was made as to the name
given-"Construction of Road connecting Police Lines to Jaisamand
Road" in the file of the year 1965 but when work commenced it was
described as "Special repairs approach road to Tekri." In Ex. A/127
dated 10 April, 1967 being estimate for the road it will appear that when the
short link to Tekri village disappeared in Police Lines it was intended to
build "approach road to Tekri" which was shown on a plan Ex.
80. When the thoroughfare through the Police
Lines was abandoned because of 532 objection by the Police, it was decided to
by-pass the Police Lines and upgrade the entire road from the Railway Station
to the Block Office. The name was amended as "road from railway crossing
to join Salumber road junction via Tekri village to give by-pass to Police
Lines." The plan Ex.
80 proves that. The construction, whatever
the name of the road was, remained the same road. The name is, therefore, of no
The High Court held that there was no tender
and that the work was split to restrict the contract to the competence of the
Assistant Engineer. Rule 369 of the Financial and Account Rules states that it
is not the intention to prevent the officers from giving out to different
contractors a number of contracts relating to one work even though such work
may be estimated to cost more than the amount up to which they are empowered to
accept tenders. The total cost of the road was approximately Rs. 20,000/for
material and labour. The 8th Running Bill was for Rs. 9,473.00 and the 9th
Running Bill was for Rs. 1,025.00. Both the Running Bills were pursuant to
Agreement No. 15 of 1966-67 and these Bills were passed in the months of April
and May, 1967.
There was a standing yearly contract to
supply stones and ballast. The total labour cost for earth work, soling, consolidation
of stone ballast was Rs. 7,840-75 as will appear from Ex. A/ 128 and Ex. A/ 130
(vouchers Nos. 63 and 44) and other vouchers. It is, therefore, correct to hold
that the amount spent was within the limit and these were valid piecework
agreements and all Bills, Vouchers and Measurement Books indicate that there
was no irregularity.
The High Court made some comments as to
production of record for Tekri village. It stated that the record was produced
after great delay. The criticism is not justified. The requisition for record
was made on 15 November, 1967 and the record was sent up on 15 December, 1967.
An application for summoning documents was made by the appellant on 12 August,
1967 and an order was made on 14 August, 1967 that the appellant should
requisition these from the Public Works Department and the appellant made the
requisition on 15 November, 1967. On 8 September, 1967 the respondent had also
made a requisition for the file relating to Tekri. The Executive Engineer made
a slight confusion between the two requisitions. In any event the entire record
was before the Court and none of the parties suffered from any nonproduction.
The High Court held that Ex. A/130 being the
agreement for soling was entered into on 1 April, 1967 and was a fictitious
document because soling was done on 14 February, 1967 and not after I April,
1967. It is also important to note that entry in 533 log book Ex. 68 dated 14
February, 1967 speaks of soling and pressing by road roller over 300 feet in
length on 14 February, 1967. The relevant vouchers show that 18275 cft.
ballast was spread. The ballast was 12 feet
wide and 41 inches deep. The total length of the road was 4000 feet upto Tekri
village. Secondly, the relevant vouchers-show that 16,722 cft. soling was laid.
Soling was done 12 feet wide-and six inches deep. That worked out a total road
length of 2,287 feet. Thus soling was not done over 1,113 feet in length.
Thirdly, earth work according to the vouchers was 28741 cft. of which 21050
cft. was ,carried away and rest of the excavated stuff was pressed. Some1,281
feet long road length contained material which was excavated locally. Work
started near the Jail to avoid the inconvenience to traffic on election day
caused by the dug up gravel road. That is why Ex. 68 dated 14 February, 1967 is
explicable as to soling for about 300 feet on that day and Ex. A/130 the
agreement became effective as from 1 April, 1967. Therefore, the High Court
wrongly held that the date 1 April, 1967 on Ex. A/130 was fictitious because
soling was done on 14 February, 1967 as will appear from Ex. 68. The Judgment
totally overlooked that on 14 February, 1967 soling was pressed by road-roller
to the extent of 300 feet. The total distance of the road from Jail to Tekri
village was 3389 ft. Out of this length 3000 ft. soling was pressed on 12
April, 1967. That is proved by Ex. 67 log-book entry dated 12 April, 1967.
Details of road roller work given in Ex. 67 show that the engine worked on the
road for about 31/2 day for pressing soling and consolidating ballast.
The relevant Financial and Accounts Rules
Nos, 330, 351 and 369 indicate that the officers could give to different
contractors a number of contracts relating to one work even though such, work
might be estimated to cost more than the amount up to which they are empowered
to accept the tenders and a distinction is made between piece-work and contract
work. Piece-work is that for which only a rate is agreed upon without reference
to the total quantity to, be done.
Work below Rs. 2500/in value is termed as
Exs. A/128 and Ex. A/130 would come in the
cat,--gory of petty-work. Petty-work did not require estimate nor tenders
according to Rules 330 and 351 respectively. The Tekri road was constructed
under special repairs programme.
The High Court held that the construction of
the road at Tekri was in contravention of section 72 of the Rajasthan, Urban
Improvement Act. This point was not raised in the pleadings. Section 72 of the
said 'Rajasthan Act speaks of restriction on improvement in certain areas after
the coming into operation in.
534 any area of a master plan or notification
of the sanction of a scheme. The scheme is not in evidence. The evidence about
Hiran Nagri Scheme does not prove that Tekri road was constructed in
contravention of any scheme. Hiran Nagri scheme Ex. 78 is divided into 14
sectors. Tekri does not fall in any one of them. It is in evidence that on 31
January, 1967 the Advisory Council met for preparation of a master plan.
Section 2 (1 ) (i) of the said Rajasthan Act speaks of amenity as including a
road and section 2(1)(vi) speaks of improvement meaning operations over
A road cannot be an improvement and therefore
section 72 of the Act may not apply. These matters appear to be beside the
principal point for consideration as to whether there was any meeting and
whether the respondent Sukhadia told the voters who were mostly Gujars that if
they did not vote for the appellant then the Kachha road in their locality
would never be metalled.
The High Court held that there was no
evidence that it was the respondent Sukhadia who got the work on Tekri road
started by Chhail Behari Mathur. The High Court further held that there was no
evidence of bargain for voting at the election. The witnesses Phoola P.W. 25
and Madan Lal P.W. 28 who were examined to prove that the respondent made a
bargain with the people of Tekri village that they would vote for him and he
would get a road constructed in Tekri village were disbelieved by the High
Court. The entire evidence has been examined by the High Court and there was no
evidence of bargain. That finding is correct and we do not find any reason to
take a contrary view. The various records about the construction of Tekri road
indicate that this was a long standing grievance. If a roller was used on the
date of the election that should not be interpreted to mean that the Chief
Minister was utilising his position to obtain votes. Such a view would suspend
and paralyse normal activities of the State. We agree with the High Court that
there was no corrupt practice.
With regard to the construction work at
Tekri, counsel for the appellant emphasized three features, namely, that this
was not the respondent Sukhadia's portfolio; secondly, that the construction
work was in breach of law, that the Urban Improvement Trust should have done
work; and thirdly, work commenced immediately after the visit of respondent
Sukhadia and it was completed before-the polling date without estimates,
without sanction and without funds. These three features were said in
combination with the oral evidence of Phoola P.W. 25 and Madan Lai P.W. 28 to
be full and complete evidence of the election bargain of respondent Sukhadia to
obtain votes. He have earlier referred to the agreement for earth-work for
construction of road at Tekri 535 village. The work continued up to the month
of May, 1967 The road had been planned as early as 1966. It is not correct to
say that there was no sanction for the work.
There was standing yearly contract of supply
of stones and ballast. Earth-work was done under different agreements.
Measurement-books and vouchers have been
produced and the total value of the work was calculated to cost Rs. 20,000/-.
Approximately Rs. 18,000/was spent. There
were two piecework agreements Ex. A/128 and Ex. A/130. In addition there were
items of petty-work. Petty-work did not require any estimate. We have also
referred to the relevant rules and held that there was no contravention. The
High Court correctly rejected the evidence of Phoola and Madan Lal and came to
the conclusion that there was no evidence of bargain for election.
The third corrupt practice alleged by the
appellant was in connection with the covering of Nallah in Baluchistan Colony.
The appellant alleged in paragraph 8 of the amended petition that the
respondent Sukhadia, his election agent, other agents and other persons with
the consent of the respondent Sukhadia misused his position as Chief Minister
and ordered the Public Works Department to construct roads and Nallah inter
alia at Ward No. 27 in Baluchistan Colony.
The appellant alleged that respondent
Sukhadia visited that colony and induced the voters to vote for him and in turn
promised to get the construction of the Nallah done in their colony. It will
appear from Ex. A-31 dated 30 September, 1966 that the scheme for covering of
Baluchistan Colony Nallah came into existence at the instance and because of
the keen interest taken in the matter by the Health and Central Committee of
the Municipal Council, Udaipur. There was a resolution of the Sanitary and
Health Committee dated 27 August, 1966 Ex. A-28 where it is recorded that
unfortunate incidents took place at the Nallah because children fell into the
Nalla` and cattle also fell in the Nallah and there was insanitary condition.
There are many documents between the years
1966 and 1967, pointing about the unsatisfactory and unhygienic condition of
the Nallah. In the month of December, 1966, the Urban Improvement Trust noticed
that the Government had refused' subsidy for the covering of the Nallah and
request for loan was made and proportionate contribution was expected to be
made by theMunicipal Council and the Irrigation Department. The Chairman, Urban
Improvement Trust, in Ex. A-34 dated 19 January, 1967, wrote to the Secretary,
Town Planning Department, intimating that the work of the Nallah was being
started in anticipation of the Government sanction. In Ex. 65(252) dated 30/31
January, 1967, the Secretary, Town Planning wrote to 536 the Chairman, Urban
improvement Trust, that it would not be possible for the Town Planning
Department to spare the money but he would ask the Chief Engineer, Health and
the matter should be discussed with the Town Planning people. The Chair-man in
his oral evidence explained that he was quite surprised to see the letter. Ex.
7-A is a telegram dated 10 February, 1967. There are various office notes on
the Secretariat file being Exs. 253, 254, 255, 256, 257 and 266.
In the month of February, 1967 the office
notes were sent to the Municipal Local Self-Government. It appears that the
Financial Commissioner did not at first accord his approval to the loan. The
Financial Commissioner accorded sanction on 24 February, 1967 (Ex. 256). The,
office note of the Urban Improvement Trust on 6 March, 1967, proposed that the
matter might be placed for administrative and, technical sanction and also for
the acceptance of the tender. Formal sanction Ex. A-35 was made on 31 March,
1967. In that sanction reference is made to the letter Ex. A-34 dated 19
January, 1967 and a telegram Ex. 7-A dated 10 February, 1967. This telegram was
described by the High Court as "faked" because there was then no
sanction. The High Court was wrong in describing the telegram in that manner.
The telegram Ex. 7-A dated 10 February, 1967 was sent by the Secretary to the
Collector and Chairman of the Improvement Trust. Ex. 266 dated 10 February,
1967, is an office note to the effect that the Chairman, Town Planning had gone
to Udaipur and was asked to discuss the case regarding Nallah in Baluchistan
Colony with the Chairman, Urban Improvement Trust, Ex. 253 dated 11 February,
1967 is another office note stating that recommendation for grant of loan was
sent for approval to the Financial Commissioner. All these documents read in
proper sequence would indicate that Ex. 7A was a genuine telegram in
anticipation of sanction.
The Financial Commissioner did not at first
agree to accord his approval to the loan. The Secretary, Town Planning, again
moved the Financial Commissioner for sanction. The Financial Commissioner
accorded sanction on 24 February, 1967 (Ex. 256). The Minister gave his assent
to the sanction of the loan on 2 March, 1967. On 6 March, 1967, the matter,
according to the office note, was placed for administrative and technical
sanction and for acceptance of the tender. On 31 March, 1967, formal sanction
was given vide Ex. A-35. It appears that the covering of the Nallah in
Baluchistan Colony was not an extraordinary or abnormal affair. It may be
stated here that respondent Sukhadia resigned from his office on 13 March, 1967
and President's Rule was imposed, which continued till 26 April, 1967. The
sanction was given at a time when respondent Sukhadia was not in office. A
revised sanction was made on 537 27 June. 1967 (Ex. A-38). Tenders for covering
of the Nallah had been asked for by Ex. A-39 dated 29 December, 1966.
Ex. 109 is an address presented to the
respondent Sukhadia on behalf of the refugees of Baluchistan and Jacobabad
Colonies at a public meeting at Salatia Grounds on 5 February, 1967. This
address does not make any reference to the covering of the Nallah. If the
respondent Sukhadia had made any promise to that tenor on 31 January, 1967 or
prior to 10 February, 1967, it would have found mention in the address.
The Urban Improvement Trust had one part-time
Executive Engineer, Chhail Behari Mathur. His real job was that of Executive
Engineer, P.W.D., Udaipur. The decisions in the Urban Improvement Trust were
usually taken by the Chairman and the Executive Engineer. The appellant in his
oral evidence said that when he was Vice President of the Municipality and also
a Member of the Urban Improvement Trust, it was felt necessary to cover the
Nallah. The proceedings of the Urban Improvement Trust in the year 1966 will
show such course of action to be correct. The Urban Improvement Trust
Resolution of 21 September, 1966 stated that money was being arranged for and
would be forthcoming before the liability arises. Rule 375(a) of the Public
Works Department Financial and Accounts Rules inter-alia states that until an
assurance has been received from the authority competent to provide funds work
could be undertaken because such funds will be allotted before the liability
matures. If the Urban Improvement Trust had to spend a sum over and above the
budgeted provision in the course of the year a supplementary budget was to be
Again Rule 375(b) it is stated that whether
on ground of urgency or otherwise if an officer is required to carry out a work
for which no appropriation exists, the officer is directed to intimate to the
Accountant General when he is incurring a liability in which no appropriation
has been made in the budget. Therefore, an officer incurring the expenditure
will take immediate steps by addressing the appropriate competent authority to
obtain orders either to stop work or regularise its execution. That is why, K.
Joshi, Chairman of the Urban ' Improvement
Trust informed on 19 January, 1967 that he was starting the work in
anticipation of Government sanction (See Ex. A-34).
Inviting tenders could not have' been
postponed to a date when the loan came in hands of the Urban Improvement Trust.
When tenders were opened on 17 January, 1967,
the tender of Sanganeria Brothers was the lowest and it was orally accepted.
The actual contract was entered into after the Urban Improvement Trust gave
formal sanction on 13 April, 1967. The Urban 538 Improvement Trust framed its
own scheme,. "Expenditure sanction" is not required in the Urban
Improvement Trust because Resolution for work would amount to sanction in
anticipation of allotment of funds. Rule 318 of P.W.D. Rules requires that the
proposals are structurally sound and estimates are accurately calculated. Chhail
Behari Mathur prepared the scheme, estimates, designs and plans. He was the
highest technical person in the Urban Improvement Trust.
When Urban Improvement Trust decided to
execute the scheme it looked for money. The Local Self-Government Secretary on
8 January, 1967 assured the loan. The Town Planning Department approved the
scheme. The approval meant approval for raising the money. The Secretary, Town
Planning Department was also the Secretary of the Local SelfGovernment
Department. The Local Self-Government Department, Town Planning, and Public
Health Department really formed one Unit in the Secretariat. Though tenders
were opened on 17 January, 1967 formal contract was signed after the date.
Though the work, had started in February, 1967 it was stopped for some time.
The work order was dated 29 March, 1967 and the work was completed on 28
The tender notice gave 8 months for
completion of work.
There was a Conference at the Secretariat
between the Chief Town Planner, Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the Town
Planning Department on 10 February, 1967. They decided to sanction Rs. 60,000/out
of Land Acquisition and Development Fund. Therefore, as far as the loan was
concerned the Department had only to obtain the concurrence of the Finance
Department. The Accounts Officer therefore sent a telegram Ex. 7-A that
sanction was accorded for loan and formal sanction would follow. Rule 50 of the
General Financial and Accounts Rules states that where it is desired to
sanction expenditure before the funds have been communicated, the authority
proceeds in a cautious manner by stating : "subject to the funds to be
communicated in budget of the year." The Accounts Officer was careful in
indicating that a telegram was not a formal order for sanction and something
was yet to be done. The ultimate sanction was issued on 31 March, 1967. The
Urban Improvement Trust on 15 April, 1967 paid the first running bill amounting
to Rs. 52,466.60.
On the entire evidence it was apparent that
there was urgency of the work. The Municipality felt the urgency.
The resolution of the Municipality Ex. A-28
asked the Urban Improvement Trust to act forthwith in the matter of covering of
the Nallah. When the scheme Ex. A-31 was sent to the Town Planning Department,
copy was sent to the Chief Minister as well as the Law Minister. This was
between the months of September and November, 1966. Reminder was sent in the
month of January. 1967 539 to the Chief Minister. The respondent Sukhadia said
that the scheme was brought to his notice. Sometime in the month of December,
1966 the respondent Sukhadia pointed out to the Chief Engineer, Health about
the bad condition of the Nallah and expressed desire for improvement. It,
therefore, follows that the respondent Sukhadia was shown the scheme once in
the month of December, 1966 and the only observation made by him was that there
should be improvement. This was ordinary official duty done by the respondent
Sukhadia. It is impossible to impute any motive whatsoever to the respondent Sukhadia
that he was guided by any corrupt motive for any election bargaining.
When the Urban Improvement Trust was trying
to get revival of the lapsed sanction in the month of June, 1967, the matter
again came to the respondent Sukhadia. This was too far removed from the
election date to have any, connection or relevance therewith.
It was suggested that file Ex. 247 was
tampered and that a small slip had been pasted between note 113 and note 114.
The word 'issued' is written on that slip.
Before the slip was pasted the words were "draft vetted D. S. may also see
as it is important matter". The contents would show that the draft was
"vetted" and the note was irrelevant and this was again in the month
of January, 1967 long before the election. So, the pasting of the slip was also
an ordinary routine affair. In cross-examination of the respondent Sukhadia it
was suggested that the words below the slip were "as desired by Chief
Minister on phone sanction may be accorded." The words can be seen on the
original and the suggestion is baseless.
The appellant's allegation against the
respondent Sukhadia as to installation of public water-taps is based on
paragraph 11 of the amended petition. The appellant alleged that the respondent
by exercising his influence as Chief Minister got 50 public water-taps
installed in different localities of Udaipur City Constituency two or three
days before the poll. The respondent did not admit the allegations. The High
Court came to the conclusion that the documentary evidence on record did not
warrant a finding that the respondent got the public hydrants installed by the
exercise of his influence. We have not found any reason to hold that the High
Court was in error.
The last allegation on which the appellant
relied as an instance of corrupt practice was Ex. 8, which was a leaflet.
The leaflet contained a statement "The
Vice-President of Jan Sangh Shri Bhanu Kumar Shastri took illegal possession of
Government land in Shivaji Nagar by force and left a road of 9 ft. width
540 It was said that the statement of fact
related to the personal character and conduct of the petitioner and was,
therefore, an offence within the meaning of section 123 (4) and section I 00
(B) of the Representation of the People Act. The HighCourt held that the
statement of fact contained in Ex. .8 that Bhanu Kumar Shastri encroached on
government land and constructed his house at Shivaji Nagar was false and the
respondent Sukhadia believed the statement to be false. The High Court also
held that the statement related to the personal character of Bhanu Kumar
Shastri but it was not reasonably calculated to prejudice the prospects of his
election and the leaflet was not printed or distributed with the consent of the
respondent Sukhadia or his election agent. Counsel for the appellant relied on
the evidence of Bhagwati Lal Bhat and Girdhari Lal Sharma to contend that the
respondent was responsible for the printing. Bhagwati Lal Bhat is R.W. 36 and
Girdhari Lal Sharma is R.W. 2. Bhagwati Lal Bhat said that he was Secretary,
District Congress Committee, Udaipur at the relevant time and he used to get
leaflets printed for election propaganda. He also said that he got Ex. 8
printed at Krishna Printing Press and Madho Lal agent of Bhuleshwar Mina asked
him to get the same printed. Girdhari Lal Sharma was the election agent of
respondent Sukhadia. He said that work for the respondent Sukhadia and
Bhuleshwar Mina, who was a Parliamentary candidate from the same constituency
was carried on from the same office. Girdhari Lal Sharma used to draft leaflets
and pamphlets which were published for the election campaign of the respondent
Sukhadia. Madho Lal used to get leaflets and pamphlets for the election
campaign of Bhuleshwar Mina printed. The election propaganda by the District
Congress Committee according to Girdhari Lal Sharma was in the charge of
Bhagwat Lal Bhat.
Counsel for the appellant invited us to hold
on the evidence that Ex. 8 was printed by the respondent Sukhadia's election
agent and with his consent. The appellant in his oral evidence said that the
respondent Sukhadia got Ex. 8 printed at the press of his election agent,
Girdhari lal. It was not alleged in the petition that the respondent or
Girdhari Lal got the leaflet printed.
Neither in the petition nor in evidence,
knowledge or consent of Girdhari Lal is alleged about printing the pamphlet Ex.
8. Girdhari Lal said that he came to know of the leaflet only after be had
received a copy of the election petition. This was not challenged in crossexamination
of Girdhari Lal nor was it suggested that the printing of the pamphlet was done
at his press with the knowledge or consent of Girdhari Lal. The only allegation
in the petition was that the leaflet was published in the Krishna Printing
Press of Girdhari Lal. Girdhari Lal also said 541 that he did not sit at his
press in the months of December, 1966 and January and February, 1967. Girdhari
Lal's Manager, Babu Lal used to maintain the accounts and look after the
business of the press during those months. It was never suggested to Girdhari
Lal that the leaflet was printed with his knowledge or consent. Bhagwati
Prashad Bhatt and Madho Lal gave evidence on behalf of the respondent.
Bhagwati Prasad said that the leaflet was
printed by him for the District Congress Committee. Th.-. High Court correctly
held that neither the respondent nor his election agent, Girdhari Lal got the
leaflet Ex. 8 printed or gave consent to its being printed and further that it
could not be held that the respondent or his agent had knowledge of the
distribution of the leaflet.
As to distribution of the pamphlets, the
appellant originally mentioned no particular persons as distributors but after
amendment, three persons, namely, Hanuman Prashad, Bhagwati Prashad Bhat and
Isthiak Ahmed were mentioned as distributors. There is no evidence that
Girdhari Lal distributed the leaflet.
In paragraph 15 of the petition, the
appellant alleged that the, respondent addressed meetings at Dholi Basri and
Moti Chohtta on 10 February, 1967 where the respondent orally made defamatory
statement about the appellant making an encroachment upon the Government land.
Narain Lal and Shanker Singh gave evidence on behalf of the appellant and said
that the respondent in their presence made the statement that the appellant had
constructed a house on Government land. The High Court did not accept the oral
evidence on behalf of the appellant. Counsel foe the appellant submitted that
though the respondent denied that he held a meeting at Dholi Basri and Moti
Chohtta on 10 February, 1967, there was mention of meetings at those places in
the police report. The High Court held that the respondent might have contacted
the people at the places mentioned but rejected the appellant's version that
the respondent said that the appellant had encroached upon the Government land.
We do not see any reason to take a different view.
Counsel on behalf of the appellant contended
that it was not open to the respondent to challenge several findings of fact by
the High Court against the respondent without preferring an appeal. Sections
116A, 116B and 116C of the Representation of the People Act deal with appeals,
stay of operation of the order by the Court and procedure in an appeal
respectively. Under section 116A, appeals shall lie to this Court on any
question whether of law or fact from every order made by the High Court under
section 98 or section 99 of the Representation of the People Act.
Sections 98 and 99 speak of orders on the
election 542 petition. Section 98 speaks of orders dismissing the election
petition or declaring the election to be void or declaring the election of a
returned candidate to be void and the. petitioner to have been duly elected.
Section 99 speaks of orders recording finding of commission of corrupt practice
and names of persons who were guilty of corrupt practice.
Under section 116C of the Representation of
the People Act the procedure in an appeal is that subject to the provisions of
the Act and of the Rules, if any, made thereunder every appeal shall be heard
and determined by this Court as nearly as may be in accordance with the
procedure applicable to the hearing and determination of an appeal from the
final order passed by a High Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction
and of the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and the Rules of the
Courts shall as far as possible apply in relation to such appeal. There are no
rules of this Court which have any bearing on this matter., The provisions
contained in Order 41, R. 22 of the Code of Civil Procedure are attracted by
the words of section 116C of the Representation of the People Act with the
result that the respondent may support the decision and judgment on any ground
decided against him. This Court in Ramanbhai Ashabhai Patel v. Dabhi Ajitkumar
Fulsinji & Ors.(1), negatived the contention that the respondent was not
competent to challenge the correctness of a finding as he had not preferred an
appeal and said "We cannot lose sight of the fact that normally a party in
whose favour the judgment appealed from has been given will not be granted
special leave to appeal from it. Considerations of justice, therefore require
that this Court should in appropriate cases permit a party placed in such a
position to support the judgment in his favour even upon grounds which were
negatived in that judgment".
In the recent case in T, N. Angami v. Smt.
Ravalu Reno M. Shaiza (Civil Appeal) No. 1125 of 1970) this Court in the
judgment dated 21 January 1971 reiterated the views expressed in the case of
Ramanbhai Ashabhai Patel (supra).
There is an additional reason for allowing
the respondent to support the judgment even on findings against the respondent,
especially when it appears that the High Court has not taken into consideration
the entire documentary and oral evidence in arriving at a finding. If the High
Court has overlooked important and crucial documents or oral evidence, such
evidence will justify this Court to support the contentions of the respondent
that the findings of fact arrived at by the High Court are against clear and
cogent proof of facts. This Court will, therefore. be justified (1)  1
543 in recording the correct findings on
ample and abundant materials which have been overlooked and ignored by the High
Court. In the present case, we have had occasion to deal with these aspects on
the rival contentions and recorded our findings.
It was said on behalf of the appellant that
under s. 123 of the Representation of the People Act, bargain was not
necessarily an ingredient of corrupt practice of bribery.
'The onus of proof of corrupt practice is on
Allegation of corrupt practice is of a
In Ghasi Ram v. Dal Singh & Others(1) and
Om Prabha Jain v. Abhash Chand & Anr.(2), this Court considered acts of
Ministers, who were candidates at elections in relation to using discretionary
fund on the eve of the election. Two propositions were established. First,
"the position of a Minister is difficult. It is obvious that he cannot to
function when his election is due. He must of necessity attend to the
grievances, otherwise he must fail. He must improve the image of his
administration before the public.
If everyone of his official acts done
bonafide is to be construed against him and an ulterior motive is spelled out
of them, the administration must necessarily come to a stand-still
.................... With an election in the near future, the political party
had to do acts of a public nature. The grants of discretionary grants(sic) were
part of the general scheme to better community development projects and to
remove the immediate grievances of the public. The money was required to be
spent in 3 months' time. The action of the Minister had often the concurrence
and recommendations of his subordinate staff. It is for this reason that the
orders about the improvement of the supply of waters were not pressed. They
were incapable of being construed against the first respondent. Therefore,
emphasis was 'placed upon "the distribution of money".
Second, "To arrange to spend money on
the eve of elections in different constituencies although for general public
good, is when all is said and done an evil practice, even if it may not be
corrupt practice. The dividing line between an evil practice and a corrupt
practice is a very thin one.
It should be understood that energy to do
public good, should be used not on the eve of elections but much earlier and
that even slight evidence might change this evil practice into corrupt
practice. Payments from discretionary grants on the eve of elections should be
Allegation of corrupt practice is a charge of
criminal nature. The provisions in the Representation of the People Act are
intended to preserve the purity of the election, but at the same time these
provisions should not be subverted for the impure purposes (1)  3 S.C.R.
(2)  3 S.C.R. 111.
544 of maligning candidates who happen to be
in the Government on the eve of the election. The normal bonafide acts of
persons who happen to be Ministers have to be kept separate from abuse of the
opportunities of power and resources which are not available to their
Under section 123(1) of the Representation of
the People Act, bribery is said to be a gift, offer or promise by a candidate
of any gratification to any person with the object directly or indirectly of
inducing an elector to vote at an election. The ingredients of bribery are,
therefore, first gift or offer or promise of gratification to an elector,
second, the gift or offer or promise of gratification is for the direct or
indirect purpose of inducing an elector to vote. It was said on behalf of the
respondent that if Ministers on the eve of the election render public or social
service by redressing grievances of the public in relation to construction of
roads or installation of water taps or closing of insanitary drains or pits,
this acts should not be interpreted to be either gift or offer or promise of
gratification. It is difficult to lay down an abstract proposition. Ordinarily
amelioration of grievances of the public appears to be innocuous. If, however,
there is evidence to indicate that any candidate at an election abuses his
power and position as a Minister in the Government by utilising public revenues
for conferring advantage or benefit on a particular group of people for the
purpose of obtaining their votes, different considerations will arise. The
Court is always vigilant to watch not only the conduct of the candidates and to
protect their character from being defamed but also to see that the character
and conduct of the public is not corroded by corrupt motive or evil purposes
.of candidates. The genuine and bonafide aims and aspirations of candidates
have to be protected on the one hand and malafide abuse and arrogance of power
will have to be censured on the other.
Judged by the tests laid down in these
decisions it has to be found out as to whether the respondent Sukhadia did any
act which can be construed to be out of the ordinary or with a view to entering
into an election bargain with the voters.
In all the three instances relied on by the
appellant at Raigar Colony, Tekri and Baluchistan Colony, it is manifest that
there were long standing public grievances and the Government from time to time
made suggestions and recommendations for redress of the grievances and
amelioration of the condition of the people. It cannot be said that on the eve
of the election there was any' sudden or spontaneous out-burst of public
activity in the shape of diverting public money to win electors on the side of
the respondent 545 Sukhadia by throwing baits or giving them any particular and
specially favoured treatment.
For these reasons we are of opinion that the
appellant is not entitled to succeed. The appeal fails and is dismissed.
Parties, will pay and bear their own costs.
V.P.S. Appeal dismissed.