Rahim Khan Vs. Khurshid Ahmed &
Ors  INSC 136 (8 August 1974)
CITATION: 1975 AIR 290 1975 SCR (1) 643 1974
SCC (2) 660
CITATOR INFO :
R 1975 SC 308 (60) F 1975 SC1045 (4,12,16) RF
1975 SC1612 (15) RF 1975 SC2299 (480) RF 1976 SC1187 (31) RF 1976 SC1599 (6,44)
R 1976 SC1866 (4) RF 1976 SC1886 (23) RF 1977 SC 587 (2) R 1977 SC 813 (13) R
1978 SC 351 (5,7,15) R 1978 SC1162 (8) R 1984 SC1516 (3) R 1985 SC 236 (62) C
1991 SC2001 (5,24)
The Representation of the People Act (43 of
1951) ss. 83, 84, 99(a) (ii), 116A and 123(1) to (4)--Scope of Court's power to
set aside election--Appellate Court's power to upset findings of trial
Court--Bribery, ingredients--Divine displeasure and undue influence--Court's
attitude to--Names of witnesses if should be mentioned in sources of
information or as part of particulars. Appeal to religion what is--Duty of
trial Court to name those found to have indulged in corrupt practices--Reform
of election law to check contemporaneous corrupt practices suggested.
In the General Election to a State Assembly
held from a constituency where the voting strength of Muslims was preponderant,
the appellant was declared elected. The first respondent, who was a sitting
minister before his defeat, challenged the election on various grounds of
corrupt practices. The High Court set aside the appellant's election holding
that he committed corrupt practices under s. 123(1) to (4) of the
Representation of the People Act, 1951. The High Court found (i) that the
appellant placed at the disposal of another contesting candidate a car 'with a
promise that the expenses incur-red in hiring and running it in connection with
his election campaign would be met by the appellant, so that, he may continue
to contest the election and wean away the Harijan votes from the first
and (ii) that the appellant, and his
supporters with his consent, delivered speeches appealing to the Muslim voters
to vote for the appellant because he was a true Muslim while the first
respondent *as a Kafir ; that they distributed handbills containing the
allegations that (a) the first respondent, though a Muslim got the grave of
another Muslim dug up on account of personal enmity; (b) as health minister he
violated the modesty of lady doctors and nurses; (q) he got certain Muslims
arrested on allegations of cow slaughter and forced them to eat pork; and (d)
if the voters voted for the first respondent they would become subject to
HELD :-(1) An appeal is a re-hearing but the
trial Court's finding will be upset only when it is found that it is wrong.
[647 D] Laxminarayan v. Returning Officer, A.I.R. 1974 S.C. 66, 78, Karemore's
Case, A.I.R. 1974 S.C. 405, 413, 420 followed.
(2) After an election had been held defeated
candidates or disgruntled electors should not be allowed to treat it in a
light-hearted manner by filing election petitions on unsubstantial grounds and
irresponsible evidence. Courts must respect the verdict rendered by the
electorate and show extreme reluctance to set it aside or declare it void
unless clear and cogent testimony, compelling the court to uphold the corrupt
practice alleged against the returned candidate, is adduced. Further, where
corrupt practices are imputed the proceedings are of a quasi-criminal nature
where strict proof is necessary and the burden is heavy on him who assails the
election. in agents cases where the witnesses are partisans, being the polling
agents or counting or workers of the candidates ; or of the turn coat type, who
claimed to be the polling agents, counting agents or workers of the returned
candidate till the election over, but, in the post-election period, when the
defeated candidate's party had formed a government, shifted their loyalty and
gave evidence in proof of the averments in the petition ; or officials working
under sitting Ministries who are candidates for election, the Court must scan
the evidence of the corrupt practices alleged with scrupulous care and
severity. [650 E-H, 655 F-H] (3) The corrupt practice of bribery under s..
123(1) by placing a car at the disposal of another candidate, is not proved.
Assuming that such candidate got the use of a car at the expense of the
appellant such financial aid would not amount to corrupt practice unless it was
to induce that candidate not to withdraw from the election.
644 In the present case, there is no proof on
this aspect and there is no finding to that effect by the High Court. [652 H,
654 B-C] (4) Divine displeasure on account of prandial impropriety and undue
influence for fear of forced pork eating, cannot be inferred from the
allegations in the handbill. No one in India to-day will shiver with fear that
a candidate, when he wins an election, will force down his throat distasteful
pork. Such chimerical apprehensions are unreal and cannot receive judicial
approval. Therefore, the corrupt practice alleged under s. 123(2) is not
proved. [669 F-H] (5) But the hand bills exhort Muslims to support the
appellant in the name of religion and contain allegations amounting to
character assassination and so, the appellant is guilty of the corrupt
practices under s. 123 (3) and (4).
[670 A-B] (a) There is no credible proof that
speeches had been made by the appellant or his supporters at meetings.
[655-C-F] (b) But on the distribution of the damaging handbills there is
acceptable, direct and circumstantial testimony. The appellant had a motive for
publishing the handbills and there is evidence to show that the handbills
existed at the relevant time. The circumstances of the case and the evidence of
disinterested witnesses show that hand bills were distributed with the
knowledge and consent of the appellant. [668F-H] (c) Neither s. 87 nor s.83 nor
r. 94(a) and Form 25 require that the names of the witnesses should be
mentioned as sources of information or as part of particulars. Rule 12 framed
by the High Court for the trial of election petitions requires the source of
information to be mentioned at the earlier stage in order to prevent afterthoughts.
But, every witness need not be mentioned as a source and every source informant
need not be examined necessarily. Whether the omission to do so in a given case
reflects on the credibility of the evidence depends on the facts and
circumstances of the case. While the court must be careful to insist that the
means of knowledge are mentioned right in the beginning to avoid convenient
embellishments and irresponsible charges, it should not stifle good and
reliable testimony or thwart proof of corrupt practices by technicalities of
procedure, especially when no prejudice, on account of deficiency in
particulars, is made out. [664 C-E, F-G] (d) What is appeal to religion depends
on time and circumstances, the ethos of a community, the bearing of the deviation
on the cardinal tenets of the religion and other variables. Law being a secular
social process, the Court must avoid over solicitude for ultra-orthodoxies.
D-E] (e) Since the first respondent has
called the various allegations relating to womanizing as false and the
appellant has agreed that he does not believe them to be true, the corrupt
practice under s. 123(4) must be held to have been made out.
Ambika Saran Singh v. Mahant Mahader Nand
Giri 41 E.L.R.
183. Kultar Singh v.Mukhtiar Singh,  7
S.C.R. 790, Balwan Singh v. Lakshmi Narain, 22. E.L.R. 273. B.
Rejagopala Rao v. N. G. Ranga, A.I.R. 1971
S.C. 267, 275 referred to.
(6) If a blatant corrupt practice is
committed during an election there is now no clear statutory mechanism which can
contemporaneously be set in motion by the affected party, so that, when it is
raw, a record and an instant summary probe is possible through an independent
semi-.judicial instrumentality. Violations thrive where prompt check is
unavailable. Effective contemporaneous machinery providing for such chocks
would greatly curtail subsequent election disputes and even act as a deterrent
to the commission of corrupt practices. Elections are the cornerstone of the
parliamentary system and electoral purity can be maintained only when the virus
of corrupt practices is controlled by comprehensive systematic changes in law
with emphasis on a fearless enforcement instrumentality and a national political
consensus to abide by norms. [670 D-F, 672 A-B] In the present case, the
handbill does not contain the name of the printer and publisher although the
election law so required. There is no agency to take prompt action after due
investigation, and a propagandist is able successfully to spread 645 scandal
without a trace of the source, knowing that nothing will happen until long
after the election the question is raised in an election petition. [665 F-G]
(7) The High Court having found the commission of corrupt practices by the
appellant and one of his supporters, who is a sitting member of Parliament, and
a large number of other persons, was under the statutory duty to name all those
who have been proved at the trial to have been guilty of corrupt practices,
under s. 99(a) (ii) after following the prescribed procedure. If only courts
would name all those involved in the pollution of the electoral process, there
would be some hesitation on their part to indulge in such improper practices.
No such action is however necessary by this Court in the present case, because
this Court found only the appellant guilty of corrupt practice. [670 F-671 H]
D. P. Mishra v. K. N. Sharma  S.C.R. 8 ; R. M.
Seshadri v. G. Vasantha Pai. ,2 S.C.R.
1019, and Janak Sritar v. Mahant R. K. Dos, A.I.R. 1972 S.C. 359, referred to.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal
No. 816 of 1973.
(Appeal under Section 116-A of the
Representation of People Act, 1951 from the Judgment and Order dated the 12th
March, 1973 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh in Election
Petition No. 7 of 1972.) N. S. Bindra, R. H. Dhebar, B. S. Malik, P. R.
Ramasesh and R. C. Bhatia, for the Appellant.
K. C. Sharma, K. C. Agarwal, M.M.L.
Srivastava, E. C.Agarwala and Prem Malhotra, for Respondent No. 1.
K. L. Hathi, and P.C. Kapur, for Respondent
A.T.M. Sangpath for Respondent No. 3.
S. K. Bagga and S. Bagga, for Respondent No.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered byKRISHNA
IYER, J.-By a plurality of less than 2,000 votes the appellant was declared
elected from the Nuh constituency to the Haryana Assembly in the general
election held on March 11, 1972. lie was an Independent candidate while his
main rival, the first respondent, represented the Indian National Congress.
There were three others in the field two of whom were independents and the
third a Jan Sangh nominee-all of them polled poorly. In the electoral history
of the constituency fickle fortune has been smiling now on the appellant, now
on the first respondent. It also happens that while the appellant had been a
Deputy Minister when he was elected to the Haryana Legislative Assembly last
from the same constituency in 1967, at the following general election in May
1968 to the same Assembly (before its term the Assembly was dissolved and the
non-Congress Government went out of office) the first respondent was elected
and he became a Member of the Cabinet formed by the Congress party.
The next election fell in 1972 where both
figured as combatants from Nuh and we are concerned with the validity of the
result declared in favour of the appel-185 SCI/75 646 lant by the returning
officer in the present appeal, the High Court having set aside the election.
It is apparent that the competitive politics
of the Nuh constituency has expressed itself through the appellant and the
first respondent for quite a long time now and as the voting figures of the
latest poll shows, the context has been contentious and close. In such battles
of the ballot where personal feuds foul the air, the decencies and norms set by
the law may often be the first casualty. Anyway, the disappointed first
respondent hastened to challenge the appellant's election on various grounds of
"corrupt practices". The High Court has upheld a few of them and
voided the appellant's election, a miss being as good as a mile. The campaign pollutants
must be kept down at the polls if electoral disenchantment is not to grip the
general community. The Court, in this regard, is the sentinel on the qui vive.
Shri Bindra, learned counsel for the
appellant, has argued the case in minute detail, countered by Shri Sharma for
the first respondent ; but since at the appellate level jejune infirmities and
probative trivialities may not tilt the scales even on the principle of juncta
juvant, we will focus largely on the major circumstances. The-correct appellate
perspective in an election case has been indicated by this Court and we are
bound to set our sights on those lines. In Laxminarayan V. Returning Officer(1)
the implied limitations on the appellate power under S.116A were stated thus :
"It can re-appraise the evidence and
reverse the trial court's findings of fact. But like any other power it is not
unconfined; it is subject to certain inherent limitations in relation to a
conclusion of fact. While the trial court has not only read the evidence of witnesses
on record but has also read their evidence in their faces, looks and demeanour,
the appellate Court is confined to their evidence on record * * * * * * * In an
appeal the burden is on the appellant to prove how the judgment under appeal is
To establish this he must do something more
than merely ask for a reassessment of the evidence. He must show wherein the
assessment has gone wrong".
In Karemore's Case(2) this position was restated
"Before a finding of fact by a Trial
Court can be set aside it must be established that the Trial Judge's findings
were clearly unsound, perverse or have been based on grounds which are
unsatisfactory by reason of material inconsistencies or inaccuracies. This is
not to say that a Trial Judge can be treated as infallible in determining which
side is indulging in falsehoods or exaggerations ....
* * * * * * * While, as we have said earlier,
it is open to this Court to reappraise the evidence and consider the propriety,
correctness (1) A.I.R. 1974 S.C. 66, 78.
(2) A.I.R. 1974 S.C. 405, 413, 420.
647 or legality of the findings recorded by
the Trial Court ordinarily it will be slow to disturb the findings of fact
recorded by the High Court unless there are cogent reasons to do so." An
appeal is a re-hearing but the trial Court's finding will be upturned not when
it is short of right but only when it is wrong. We wilt view the case from this
In a loose sense, Nuh is a Muslim
constituency by which we mean that the voting strength of the Muslims is
preponderant. Both the candidates are Muslims and, indeed, to some extent the
Islamic "dosage" of each candidate has itself been highlighted in the
Election Petition as a bone of contention in the poll confrontation, as will be
presently discussed. Had parties professing secular politics and revolutionary
ideologies never "stooped to conquer" by sub rosa appeal to the
religion and caste of blocks of voters by exciting their sympathy for the
candidate via this sense of "tribal" identity, our elections would
long ago have lived down this injurious political irrelevance. On the contrary,
the unerring instinct with which political parties frequently choose candidates
whose religion or caste tallies with that of the bulk of the constituents
appetises, if not excites, covertly, if not overtly, the caste consciousness
and religious separatism otherwise asleep in the bosoms of the common people.
In the name of pragmatism many parties offer allegiance to the
super-party---Caste and the law (Sees. 123 & 125) fails operationally
because the societal mores are not being seriously secularised by big Parties.
What is surprising is that the die-hard sense of caste has affected not merely
the Hindu heirarhcy but also the Muslim Brotherhood and the evidence in the
present case reveal that Gote (gothra or clan ) is a binding force socially and
electorally among Muslims here. Exploitation of this susceptibility is
suggested against the appellant.
The first respondent, in his petition, has
imputed many types of corrupt practices to the returned candidate.
Paragraph 8 of the petition sets out the
facts about bribery. The next paragraph furnishes the particulars of appeal by
the returned candidate and/or his election agent and by others with their
consent, to vote for the appellant on grounds of religion and caste and to
refrain from voting for the first respondent on the score that he violated
Islamic tenets and was in fact a kafir. The gravamen of the vices flung at the
appellant is that he and others with his consent did broadcast to their
constituents orally and in writing personal aspersions about the first
respondent, calculated to darken his poll prospects. Undue influence by
invocation of divine displeasure by dietary deviation is also alleged, based on
the potential threat, if respondent were returned of the pious Muslims being
forced to eat porka prandial anathema for true Muslims.
Not all of these grounds have been held
proved and the appellate I subject-matter is confined to that part of the
canvas where findings of corrupt practice have been recorded. We will switch
the forensic spotlight only on them. The High Court has wound up thus:
648 "My conclusions from the evidence
discussed under this issue may be summed up as follows:
(a) Handbill Exhibit P. W.4/3 was in
existence before the 12th of March, 1972.
(b) The returned candidate supplied copies of
the handbill to his agents and workers for distribution amongst Muslim voters.
(c) The returned candidate and his supporters
with his consent, made an appeal to Muslim voters to vote for the returned
candidate because he was a true Muslim whereas the petitioner was a kafir. This
appeal was made on the 9th and 10 th of March, 1972, through speeches delivered
by the returned candidate and his supporters and by distribution of handbill
Exhibit P. W. 4/3, in the following villages of the Nuh Assembly constituency:
Notki Gohana, Khedli Nuh, Mewli, Malab,
Nagina, Karherrha, Pinangwan, Bhadas and Gliagas.
It is conceded before me that the appeal just
above found by me to have been made by the returned candidate was an appeal to
vote for the returned candidate and to refrain from voting for the petitioner
on the ground of their religion, for the furtherance of the prospects of the
election of the returned candidate and for prejudicially affecting the election
of the petitioner so that it falls within the ambit of the corrupt practice
detailed in section 123 (3) of the Act, which corrupt practice the returned
candidate must be held to have committed. The issue is accordingly found in
favour of the petitioner." * * * * * "From the evidence accepted by
me as trustworthy under that issue it is further made out that practically all
those statements with slight variations were made the-subjectmatter of speeches
by the returned candidate and, with his consent, by Shri Tayyab Hussain, which
speeches were delivered to gatherings in the said ten villages. The publication
of those statements by the returned candidate and by Shri Tayyab Hussain, with
his consent thus stands fully proved. The petitioner has sworn as P. W. 76 that
all the statements contained in the handbill are false. Thus assertion stands
wholly unrebutted. Appearing as R.I.W.
37 the returned candidate averred that
according to his belief the statements made in the handbill were incorrect.
This being so, all the ingredients of the corrupt practice under examination
must be held to have been fully brought home to the returned candidate".
* * * * * * * I have already held under issue
No. 4 that as claimed by petitioner handbill Exhibit P. W.
4/3 was distributed amongst voters by the
returned candidate and his supporters with his consent. So the only question
which remains to be answered is 649 whether the publication of the statements
above extracted amounted to any direct or indirect interference or attempt to
interfere with the free exercise of any electoral right.
in opinion, this question must be answered in
the affirmative. According to the Muslim faith, eating of pork is considered
The impugned statements declared in no
uncertain terms that if the petitioner was elected, he would force all Muslims
to eat pork. The effect of those statements on the mind of an average Muslim
voter would be so powerful as to leave no free will to him in the exercise of
his choice of the candidate for whom he was to vote. The inducement would
result in a mental compulsion for the voter to vote for the petitioner and
would, therefore, fall within the ambit of any attempt to interfere with the
free exercise of an electoral right." * * * * * * ".....the publication
that the returned candidate and others in handbill Exhibit P. W. 4/3 amounted
to the commission of the corrupt practice of undue influence as defined in
section 123(2) of the Act." * * * * * * "Having found that the
returned candidate and others with his consent committed the corrupt practiced efined
in clauses (1), (2), (3) and (4) of section 123 of the Act, I accept the
petition and declare the election of the returned candidate to the Haryana
Legislative Assembly from the. Nub Assembly constituency to be void." The
cornerstone of the election petition is the destribution of libellous handbills
and making of slanderous speeches by the candidate and his companions which
overflowed mere personal invective into many areas of corrupt practice. The Court
was also satisfied with part of the charge of bribery which it expressed thus :
"As a result of the above discussion I
find it proved that on the 14th of February 1972, the returned candidate placed
at the disposal of respondent No. 3 Car No. DLF 675 with a promise that these
expense incurred in hiring the car and running it in connection with the
election campaign of respondent No. 3 would be met by the returned
candidate." Thus it is seen that while the embittered petitioner has
black-brushed his rival with many brands of corrupt practices, he has failed to
convince the Court on several of them. His counsel gave up many of the charges
after evidence had been led. Even the residue has not fully found favour with
the High Court and the only substantial grounds which have survived the
screening process are two, viz : (a) the 'automobile' bribe; and (b) the
dissemination of prejudicial and prohibited appeals. The limited controversy
before us centers round the certitude of this fatal modicum.
The election law invalidates a poll verdict
if a single illegal adulterant has been admixed in the campaign. The law is
jealously qualitative, not clumsily quantitative, in its nullification test and
two vices or twenty are the same in the ultimate result.
650 A few prefatory observations are
necessary before we discuss the evidence, apply the law and reach our
conclusions. It is of the first importance that elections must be free and fair
if the democratic system is not to founder. Not long ago a Chief Justice of this
Court, delivering the Lajpatrai Memorial Lecture, observed:
"Untruths before elections, during
elections and after elections seem to be too prevalent for a healthy political
society." He also tartly remarked in that speech:
"There is always a danger of the failure
of democracy. 'Remember', said John Adams, 'remember, democracy never lasts
long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.
There never was a democracy that did not
commit suicide. We must realise that this is entirely true." The Court is
the conscience-keeper of the constituency, as it were, in the maintenance of
the purity of elections to the extent they are litigated in Court. Shah, J., in
Harcharan Singh's Case (1) observed "The primary purpose of the diverse
provisions of the election law which may appear to be technical is to safeguard
the purity of the election process, and the Courts will not ordinarily minimise
their operation." We have therefore to insist that corrupt practices, such
as are alleged in this case, are examined in the light of the evidence with
scrupulous care and merciless severity.
However, we have to remember another factor.
An election once held is not to be treated in a light-hearted manner and
defeated candidates or disgruntled electors should not get away with it by filing
election petitions on unsubstantial grounds and irresponsible evidence, thereby
introducing a serious element of uncertainty in the verdict already rendered by
the electorate. An election is a politically sacred public act, not of one
person or of one official, but of the collective will of the whole
constituency. Courts naturally must respect this public expression secretly
written and show extreme reluctance to set aside or declare void an election
which has already been held unless clear and cogent testimony compelling the
Court to uphold the corrupt practice alleged against the returned candidate is
adduced. Indeed election petitions where corrupt practices are imputed must be
regarded as proceedings of a quasicriminal nature wherein strict proof is
necessary. The burden is therefore heavy on him who assails an election which
has been concluded.
There are many who are cynical about the
enforcement of the election law, which is too moral for the pragmatic skills of
the politicians when locked in pitched battles. They regard these vices as (1)
 1 SCA 138, 145.
651 inevitable and therefore remain
indifferent to their prevalence. Sydney Harris' statement in this context is
"Once we assuage our conscience by
calling something a necessary evil', it begins to look more and more necessary
and less and less evil." For this very reason the Court has to be stern so
as to induce in the candidates, the parties and workers that temper and
truthfulness so appropriate to the process and not bewail, as the Report of the
Fifth General Election in India (1971-72, issued by the Election Commission)
does (at p. 198 thereof) :
"But how can we expect that elections
will be absolutely and totally corruption-free when the whole country in every
sphere and department of life and activity is plunged in the ocean of
corruption ? It is everybody's complaint that there is no business, trade or
industry where black-marketing or bribery is not pracctised.... Remove
corruption in general and corruption in election will be a thing of the
past." The charge of bribery has been made in this case in a peculiar
setting and has been held proved in part by the learned Judge. Before going
into the principal skein of corrupt practices wound round the alleged
propaganda, oral and documentary, we may dispose of the lesser but equally
lethal episode of bribe-giving. A glance at the communal composition of the
constituency and its behavioral pattern is necessary to appreciate this ground
covered by issue 1.
No part of Indian geography is a religious
monolith and Nuh is no exception to this social diversity and communal mix.
The majority are Meo-muslims (converts from
Rajputs carrying their caste and gothra memory into their Islamic genetic code
and observing in life the clan habit) but there are also Hindus including
Harijans. The Harijans, according to the petitioner, traditionally vote for the
Congress except when lured away by a fellow Harijan figuring as candidate.
To wean away Harijans from the Congress
ballots was very much to the appellant's interest and so the petition alleged,
he exploited their communal pathology by setting up Sohanlal, Respondent 3, as
a ghost candidate not to win but to defeat.
Human homogenisation in elections, breaking
down religious barriers, is social heroism unaccomplished even in the communal
pluralism of the U.S.A. and the U. K. although it is exaggerated by tradition
in. India and hurts it more, being a developing country. The political pity is
that the secular and social objectives of our Constitutional order are
obfuscated by a system of mass electoral participation where separate
electorates, written with the invisible ink of life, are partially perpetuated
by political leaderships bent on shortcuts to power. The law should so develop
as to dis-induce communal-religious appeal by the crypto-casteism of the
candidature itself We say this not as a strange evil of our society but as an
inadequacy of our election life and law. Newton D. Baker observes about the U.
652 situation while considering the harm of a
switch-over to proportional representation :
"We have groups of all sorts and kinds
formed around religious, racial, language, social and other contentious
distinctions. Proportional representation invites these groups to seek to
harden and intensify their differences by bringing them into political action
where they are irrelevant, if not disturbing. A wise election system would
invite them to forget these distracting prejudices." The 1st respondent's
case is that the appellant persuaded a financially incompetent
Sohanlal-respondent No. 3-to stand as candidate over-ruling his reluctance by
offer of Rs. 125 and promise of footing his campaign bill, in a bid to skin
away the Harijan pro-Congress votes. This was on February 9, 1972. Since the
lower Court has rejected this episode, we too ignore it. But the official date
for withdrawal, February 14, found the hesitant Sohanlal hovering around
retirement from an expensive context. The 1st respondent's story is that the
appellant gave a shot in the arm by proffer of Rs. 1,000 and a car for use till
the election was over. This stroke of bribery continued the Harijan candidate
in the arena. The finale of this shady chapter, disbelieved by the Court, is
that a couple of days before the actual poll the appellant purchased Sohanlal's
retirement and exhortation to his followers to support the appellant at a price
of Rs. 2,000 paid on March 10, 1972.
This facet of the case has been eliminated at
the High Court level and need not detain us. The narrow point that survives for
our scrutiny as to whether the appellant did commit the corrupt practice under
s. 123(1) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 (the Act , for short), by
placing at the disposal of candidate Respondent 3, car D.L.F. 675 and promising
him the hire charges and running expenses thereof with a view to his
continuance as candidate, the ultimate gain being the seduction of the Harijan
electors away from the Congress candidate It is not necessary to examine
whether the evidence justifies the finding that Sohanlal got the use of a car
at the expense of the appellant. We will assume that is so.
But it is not every help by a candidate to a
fellow candidate that constitutes corrupt practice. Stich financial aid must be
to induce the latter not to withdraw from the section. May be, a candidate may
wish to fight but do it so bloodlessly that he may not reach his potential
supporters and if his effective canvassing is in the interests of another
candidate (the electoral chemistry has many actions and reactions) then the
latter may invigorate his campaigning with funds or aid in kind, not for nonwithdrawal
but for full-blooded electioneering. To jack tip is different from preventing a
jump down. This is not a corrupt practice under the law and so the key question
is not whether a car was provided but whether the provision of the car was to
prod the candidate not to withdraw. A closeup of the evidence on this
significant facet leaves us in serious doubt about the sufficiency and
reliability of the proof.
653 From the evidence in this case it looks
as if Sohanlal, the third respondent, is an indigent person and handicapped by
social backwardness. Nevertheless he is needed as a magnet to polarise all
Harijan votes away from the cow and calf symbol. It is a worthwhile reflection
on the Sohanlal drama that in order to invest elections with equality of
opportunity in a country of poverty, inexpensiveness must be stamped on the
campaigning process. This may be attempted in many ways by adapting to Indian
conditions experiences elsewhere,. But the present methodology of fixing up
candidates at the last minute as a product of many pressures makes for more
inputs than consultation with the community in the concerned area, a sort of
informal "primary" and announcement of the choice will ahead for the
constituency to know and understand the candidate likewise if Party cadres work
constructively and continuously for solution of peoples' grievances instead of
going into election-eve campaigning with all the sound and fury of hectic
pre-poll duel to win votes, the project will cost less and votecatching
stratagems will yield poor pay off. Large pecuniary lay-out in the business of
power politics must be arrested if the system is not to sink. Today, the
average Harijan, like Sohanlal, has as much chance of winning an election as a
camel has of passing through the eye of a needle. Naturally he looks around for
help. Money is of key importance if enormous sums must be spent to reach the
vast electorate to break down public inertia and secure substantial polling. In
such a background Rahim Khan (RI) is alleged to have prayed upon Sohanlal's
inability to finance his election by offering the sinews of war thereby
indirectly deriving good negative return for his money.
Sohan lal himself has backed a good part of
this case, so far as the giving of a car is concerned. Straight from the
horse's mouth, as it were, we have this :
"On the 14th of February 1972, Rahim
Khan, Tayyab Hussain, Faquira, Chet Ram and Yamin Khan came to me, and offered
me money and a car. Rahim Khan paid Rs. 1,000 to Faquira for expenses on the
car. I was carrying on propaganda for my election." On the crucial point
whether the car (and all found) was given to make him continue the contest
there is silence in chief-examination and denial in cross-examination although
his ambiguous sympathies seem, if at all, to be with the Congress candidate in
the election case. The testimony of P. W. 22 (Ram Kishan), P. W. 23 (Habib), P.
W. 24 (Jaswant Singh) and R 3. W. 1 (Faquira) has been pressed into service in
this connection. The evidence of P. W. 22, 23 and 24 doe,,,, not bear on the
condition of non-withdrawal as the basis for the supply of free transport R3 W.
1 swears :
"During the last general election I was
supporting Rahim Khan respondent. 20 or 25 days before polling I went to Sohan
Lal respondent in the company of Rahim Khan, Badri Parshad respondent, Tayyab
Hussain and Mauj Khan. Sohan Lal respondent said that although he had stood for
the election, lie was feeling handicapped on account of lack of financial
resources. Rahim Khan told him not to worry inasmuch as he 654 (Rahim Khan)
would provide him necessary :finance. In my presence no money was paid, but
Rahim Khan placed a car at the disposal of Sohan Lal respondent. Rahim Khan
told me that I should support Sohan Lal and that Rahim Khan would reimburse me
for all expenses in connection with the car." Here also the vital element
of inducement not to withdraw is absent. Of course even regarding giving the car
there is some evidence contra of the appellant and of Tayyab Hussain (R3 W. 9).
But the crux of the matter is the pecuniary pressure put on a candidate to
persist in the candidature ;
this latter limb is unproven and not even
formally found by the lower Court. The serious scrutiny of law and facts
expected of election tribunals before unseating a returned candidate is wanting
in the High Court's finding and we hold that, suspicions apart, the charge of
bribing Sohanlal into fighting a futile battle has not been brought home as
required by s. 123(1) of the Act.. At the last stages of the argument before us
Shri Sharma made a virtue of necessity and did not press the case of bribery.
The decisive and deadly chapter of the
petition relates to the multipointed propaganda violating the canons of
election law set out in s. 123(2), (3) and (4). Question of law about the
correct construction of the relevant provisions arise but the primary issue is
one of fact. Were public meetings held on 9th and 10th of March maligning orally
and through handbills the Congress candidate for lack of personal morals, for
heathen and bohemian ways and for being a potential danger to good mussalmans ?
Were pamphlets like Ex. P-3 made and distributed on or about March 9 and 10 by
the returned candidate and his agents, describing his Congress rival as a
pork-eater and taker of virginities, as a coercive agent getting muslim graves
dug up and forcing true muslims eat roast pig ? A few phenomena appear in this
case which deserve judicial notice for the purpose of appreciating the evidence
on this branch of the story of corrupt practices. Both the contesting parties,
the appellant and the 1st respondent, are strong men with considerable hold on
large numbers of people in the constituency, as the polling result reveals.
Both of them have been in and out of office
and naturally the bid for power would whet their appetite. The wild allegations
in the petition, if true, would suggest that the appellant tried many methods
of assuring victory for himself, such as setting up a Hindu candidate who would
carry away the Hindu votes, a Harijan candidate who would wean away Harijan
votes and the Muslim votes being attracted into his count by painting his
Congress rival a kafir and himself a Muslim good and true. At this stage it is
clear that the theory of ex-communication set up in the petition has been
abandoned. Likewise, bribery based on the Jan Sangh candidate has also been
dropped. The supply of a car as an inducement not to withdraw from the election
to Sohanlal has been upheld by the trial Court, but we have already expressed
our view to the contrary.
We are left ultimately with the story of the
public meetings where slanderous speeches were made and of libellous leaflets
having been 655 distributed. There is no doubt that tension had mounted and the
candidates were frantic. An order under s. 144 Cr.
P.C. had been clamped down on the whole
constituency and a large police force was moving around to maintain law and
order in the whole area. The argument of appellant's counsel is that since
meetings of five or more persons in public places had been prohibited, it was
unlikely that there would have been open violation in many villages by the
appellant himself, a former Deputy Minister and Tayyab Hussain, a sitting
Member of Parliament. Nor could the police have been so insouciant as to ignore
numerous breaches of the ban on public meetings. Equally strong is the
circumstance that had there been meetings in contravention of prohibitory
orders, the Congress candidate, a Cabinet Minister at the time of the election,
would not have kept quiet at all. It is also note-worthy that s. 126 of the Act
prohibits holding of public meetings within 48 hours of the close of the poll.
We are impressed with these circumstances and would have unhesitatingly held as
unsafe the oral testimony in proof of public meetings. However we are not
prepared to discredit outright all the evidence about gatherings in the
villages, where the appellant spoke to people, solely on the ground of the
order under s. 144 Cr. P. C. What we see from the evidence is that there were
no regular meetings prearranged and public. It was more a case of the appellant
running around from place to place, meeting persons who gathered when he went
to a place, his sitting on a cot and talking impromptu to the men who turned up
within a short time and leaving the place after a little while. It is difficult
to describe these tiny groups spontaneously assembling and melting away after
quarter of an hour or so, as public meetings. Technically they may or may not
be breaches of the ban order but such minor liberties are not infrequently
taken by both sides and winked at by the police, lest genuine house-to-house
propaganda by the candidates and their supporters on the very last day should
be interfered with and tension mount up on the ground that the authorities
thwarted a non-Congress candidate's canvassing. Certainly we have to bear in
mind the circumstances mentioned earlier in evaluating the evidence of
witnesses, giving the benefit of reasonable doubt to the appellant.
Many witnesses examined in support of the 1st
respondent's case are partisans, being the polling agents, counting agents of
workers of the Congress candidate. Their evidence has naturally to be viewed
with circumspection, but not dismissed outright [See Ambika Saran Singh v.
Mahant Mahadev Nand Giri(1)]. But more curious is the turn-coat type of
witnesses who claimed to be and often were the polling agents, counting agents
or workers of the appellant till the election was over, but, in the
post-election period when the 1st respondent's party had formed a Government,
quietly shifted their loyalty and gave evidence in proof of the averments in
the petition. It is conceivable that these persons who had collaborated with
the appellant in the malpractices alleged were possessed of the urge to
unburden their bosoms of the truth of their own evil-doing and hurried into the
witness to swear veraciously to what took place actually. But the more probable
(1) 41 E.L.R.183 656 explanation would be that these swivel-chair witnesses
with India rubber consciences came under the influence of the 1st respondent
for invisible consideration and spoke dubiously in support of their present
patron. Of course, if their evidence is intrinsically sound, if their demeanour
is impressive otherwise, if the incontrovertible facts and broad probabilities
fit in with their version and other disinterested testimony on the same point
is forthcoming, we should not disbelieve the case merely because some tainted
evidence is also placed on the record. In this view, we have to scan the oral
evidence rather carefully, lest the verdict of the people at the polls should
be nullified on uncertain and dubious evidence.
Counsel for the appellant and, to some
extent, the 1st respondent's advocate also, read before us rulings galore as to
when witnesses should be believed and when not.
Precedents on legal propositions are useful
and binding, but the variety of circumstances and peculiar features of each case
cannot be identical with those in another and judgment of Courts on when and
why a certain witness has been accepted or rejected can hardly serve as binding
decisions, Little assistance can therefore be derived from case law on
credibility. There are no legal litmus tests to discover the honest conscience
of a human being and the canons of truthfulness of oral evidence sans
commonsense, are but misleading dogmas. The golden rule is, as George Bernard
Shaw tells us, that there are no golden rules. For this reason we are not
referring to the many rulings cited before us. But we certainly inform
ourselves with the general touchstones of reliability. The fact that we are not
ready to act on the testimony of a person does not mean that he is a perjurer.
It merely means that on such testimony it is not safe to conclude in a
quasi-criminal proceeding that the 'corrupt pratice' has been proved beyond
The whole constituency is silently present
before us it must be remembered (See observations of Dua I, J. in I.L.R. 1969 I
Punj 625.) We must emphasize the danger of believing at its face value oral
evidence in an election case without the backing of sure circumstances or
indubitable documents. It must be remembered that corrupt practices may perhaps
be proved by hiring half-a dozen witnesses apparently respectable and
disinterested, to speak to short of simple episodes such as that a small
village meeting took place where the candidates accused his rival of personal
vices. There is no x-ray whereby the dishonesty of the story can be established
and, if the Court were gullible enough to gulp such oral versions and
invalidate elections, a new menace to our electoral system would have been
invented through the judicial apparatus. We regard it as extremely unsafe, in
the present climate of kilkennycat election competitions and partisan witnesses
wearing robes of veracity to upturn a hard won electoral victory merely because
lip service to a corrupt practice has been rendered by some sanctimonious
The Court must look for serious assurance,
untying circumstances or unimpeachable documents to uphold grave charges of
corrupt practices which might not merely cancel the election result, but
extinguish many a man's public life.
657 With these background observations we
shall analyse the evidence adduced on both sides. We are not deterred by the
negative evidence on the side of the appellant to the effect that within the
ken of the witnesses concerned no meeting took place or no distribution of
pamphlets had been made.
Not only can such evidence be procured but it
is hopelessly inconclusive in the face of definite and positive and probable
testimony, if any to the contrary. Therefore, we have to search for the
evidence in support of the petition, its reliability arid sufficiency.
Shri Bindra, for the appellant, made a
blistering attack on the learned Judge's wrong approach to testimonial
For, strategic documents like Ex P2/P3 and
P5/P6 and lethal circumstances like addressing slandering speeches, are sought
to be proved by the 1st respondent through the polling agents and other
erstwhile activists of the appellant during the election. The Court somehow
thought that a trace of treachery was the signature of truth and that the post
election support to the defeated candidate in the witness box, speaking to
collaboration with there turned candidate in pre-election corrupt practices,
makes assurance doubly sure. We cannot understand how tergiversation can become
a virtue. Defection in politics is becoming a pervasive vice and its projection
into election cases must be frowned upon by Courts. It scandalises us that a
person should be the campaign agent of one candidate during elections and
should shift loyalties during the election case to undo the victory he
contributed to attain. The price of post-election swivelling must slump. It is
naivete to pin faith on such probative circus and it is necessary to discourage
such defection in the interests of the purity of the Court process. Except in
special circumstances which are not present in the present case we decline to
dismantle an electoral result by the technique of turn coat testimony.
Here we may clear the ground by removing
Sohanlal's nearconfessional evidence from the area of reliable testimony.
'Whatever his role before the election, his
written statement and evidence smack of the 1st respondent's vocabulary and
either he is a fool or a knave or too truthful to be credible. For he admits
receiving a car and expenses from the appellant, pleads to a mood of withdrawal
and in evidence lends lip service to distribution of the objectionable
handbills and to a last minute withdrawal from the election at the instance of
the appellant. All that we need say is that his word does not have the ring of
reliability and we leave it at that.
Yet another aspect of the case may be dealt
with here, to clear the deck for a consideration of the serious issues that
survive. Running right through the war and woof of the petitioner's averments
and evidence and haunting the political life of the petitioner for long years
is a sitting Member of Parliament on the Congress benches, R3 W9, Tayyab
Hussain. He is charged with visiting village after village with the appellant
an exCongress man and now the bitter opponent of the Congress candidate to
deliver vicious personal attacks on the petitioner, a Minister belonging to his
own Party. The Mec-Muslims had the father of Tayyab Hussain as their leader and
after him, Tayyab Hussain himself apparently a political family claiming 658
virtually hereditary hegemony over a small community. The arrival of an
educated Meo like the petitioner, a law graduate, on the political scene was a
potential threat to a vested interest. We find from the evidence personal
rivalry between the two writ large, Tayyab Hussain being ready to change Party
and ally with enemies for personal ends and getting suspended from the Congress
in the bargain. He has been a Deputy Minister once and has tasted power. May be
the petitioner's political presence is a spectre for him and so he may be prone
to run that rival down. Even so, there are boundaries to his hostile
operations. Let us look at him as in 1972. He knows that anti-Party activities
will imperil his Congress future. He has vital stakes in that party, being a
sitting member of Parliament with four years to go. He was Chairman of the Wakf
Board for which his party position must have partly accounted. The Party High
Command was so near Nuh that had he acted publicly he would have been pulled up
instantly. It is difficult to believe, even if the man was an adventurist
master in the art of the possible, that this M. P. would have openly and
stridently campaigned in the company of the anti-Congress candidate With
vituperative vigour. His heart may have been with, the appellant Rahim Khan but
he could not have so lost his head as to strike publicly at Khurshid Ahmed. The
heap of oral evidence adduced in the case does not persuade us to hold with the
1st respondent on the public doings of R3 W9 hostile to his candidature.
Now let us get to the meat of the matter. For
by all accounts the piece de resistance is the pamphlet part of the case. A
manouvre to malign was resorted to at critical stage of the poll battle,
according to the 1st respondent.
Although there is a volume of oral testimony
regarding small but numerous whistle-stop meetings held in street corners,
common on election eve everywhere, we feel it unsafe to stake a verdict of
corrupt practice on such dubious material. By passing these oral adventures in
vilification, we proceed to turn the spotlight on the handbills, their
authorship, existence, implications and circulation. We may straightway state
that once we grant this pamphlet publicity, it will depress the victim's
chances and may amount to an appeal to religion. Both the candidates are
Muslims but one is less muslim than the other almost a kafir because he eats
pork. The other imputations in the handbill relate to character assassination
and undue influence which we will refer to presently.
We may as well set out here Ex. P. W. 413,
the offending handbill "INTRODUCTION OF CH.KHURSHID AHMED AND SOME
QUESTIONS TO HIM.
1. You being a Muslim got dug a grave of a
Mohammadan and got the dead body out due to your personal enmity, which is
against Islam and its Shariat. Do you still claim yourself to be a Muslim ?
2. Since you have become a Minister you have
taken bribery from the public for each work of the public. Do you call this
public service ? 659
3. You being Health Minister violated the
modesty of numerous lady doctors and nurses and till they did not surrender
their body to your lust you did not do any of their works.
Do you want to be elected again so that you
can continue your debauchery
4. You while being a Minister got some
Muslims of village Utawad arrested on allegations of cow slaughter and made
them to eat meat of the pig.Do you want to be elected again so that you may be
able to make all Muslims eat the meat of the pig ? Khurshid Sahib public wants
to tell you that you yourself have become a 'Kafir' by eating the meat of the
pig. but the remaining muslims do not want to become 'Kafirs' at your hands.
Public should pay attention and should give
crushing defeat to such a 'Kafir'. I am rightly entitled to your vote.
Rahim Khan." Appeal to religion, in this
context, is influencing Muslim voters to prefer the appellant for his authentic
Islamic way of life and to repel the 1st respondent for his heathen habits. A
plate for pork is the main un-Islamic conduct imputed to the 1st respondent. Is
it appeal to religion if voters are told that a candidate consumes unorthodox
food ? That a brahmin eats beef, that a muslim eats pork, that a Jain eats at
night ? Should the law lend itself, in a secular State, to the little
susceptibilities of orthodox tenets ? If we push it for, particularly in
religions like Hinduism and Islam which contain prescriptions regarding dress,
bath, shave, ablutions and diet, many difficulties will arise. Eating garlic,
radish and uncooked onions and even the flesh of cattle killed without
invocation of Allah is un-Islamic (See "Who is a Muslim" by G. Ghous
39-42). Can you set aside an election because
the losing candidate was described as eating raw onion ? This situation becomes
worse in the Hindu fold. It is strange law that does not quarrel with an appeal
not to vote for a man because he does not eat vitamins but nullifies the
election for appeal based on radish or pig's flesh. True, the vice is injection
of religion into politics and playing up fanaticism to distract franchise. But
the back lash of this provision is a legal enquiry into what is the basic
faith, not its frills and filigrees. it has been held by the Madras and the
Kerala High Courts (71 I.C. 65 and 1971 K.L.T. 68Imbichi Koya Thangal v. Ahamed
Koya) that the credal core to identify a Muslim as Muslim is not food and dress
but the triune items of One God, Universal Brotherhood and the Great Prophet
Mahomet, being the last of the Prophets (although on this last limb there is
some dispute). No charge on these three aspects has been made in the handbills.
Thus apostasy has not been alleged. Nevertheless, having regard to the ruling
in Kultar Singh v. Mukhtiar Singh(1) and the popular sentiment tied up rightly
or wrongly with Muslim religion, we do not disagree with the view of the High
Court and the stand of both counsel. The secular texture of the law is
primarily the legislator's responsibility although Caesar and God should (1)
 7 S.C.R. 790.
660 not get mixed up in areas of food,
clothing and housing and other temporal matters not inherently interlinked with
man's communion with the Supreme. What is appeal to religion depends on time
and circumstance, the ethos of a community, the bearing of the deviation on the
cardinal tenets and other variables. To confound communal passion and crude
bigotry with religion is to sanctify in law what is irreligion in fact. It is
good to remind ourselves of Roman Rolland on Ramakrishna, quoted in Nehru's
Autobiography "..many souls who are or who believe they are free from all
religious belief, but who in reality live immersed in a state of super
consciousness, which they term Socialism, Communism, Humanitarianism,
Nationalism and even Rationalism. It is the quality of thought and not its
object which determines its source and allows us to decide whether or not it
emanates from religion. If it turns fearlessly towards the search for truth at
all costs with single-minded sincerity prepared for any sacrifice, I should
call it religious ; for it presupposes faith in an end to human effort higher
than the life of existing society, and even higher than the life of humanity as
a whole. Scepticism itself, when it proceeds from vigorous natures true to the
core, when it is an expression of strength and not of weakness, joins in the
march of the Grand Army of the religious Soul." The Court must avoid
over-solicitude for ultra-orthodoxies, law, being a secular social process. It
is curious that the Election Commission, in its Report on the Fifth General
Election in India (1971-72) refers to objections regarding the symbol 'Cow and
Calf' on the score of religious associations from eminent persons and in
overruling them cites George Barnard Shaw (Everybody's Political What What's?
who said "The apparent multiplication of Gods is bewildering at the first
glance ; but you soon discover that they are all the same God in different
aspects and functions and even sexes. There is always one uttermost God who
defies personification. This makes Hinduism the most tolerant religion in the
world, because its one transcendent God includes all possible Gods, from
elephant Gods, bird Gods and snake Gods right upto the great Trinity of Brahma,
Vishnu and Shiva, which makes room for the Virgin Mary and modern feminism by
making Shiva a woman as well as a man. Christ is there as Krishna, who might
also be Dionysos.
In fact Hinduism is so elastic and so subtle
that the profoundest Methodist and the crudest idolator are equally at home in
it." And yet the electoral law construes religion based on apparel, approved
food and other externals. How about appeal to anti-religion ? That one is a
Royist or rationalist and the rival a religious soul and too other wordly ?
Rabid Communalism is the real enemy. Let that be identified by law. A second
look at this labyrinth of law is in keeping with changing times. The 'voice in
the wilderness' words of this Court in Ambika Saran Singh's Case(Supra) at p.
181 bear repetition 661 "Indian leadership has long condemned electoral
campaigns on the lines of caste and community as being destructive of the
country's integration and the concept of secular democracy which is the basis
of our Constitution. It is this condemnation which is reflected in s. 123(3) of
the Act. In spite of the repeated condemnation, experience has shown that where
there is such a constituency it has been unfortunately too tempting for a
candidate to resist appealing to sectional elements to cast their votes on
caste basis." Every Party silently says "He who has not sinned, let
him cast the first stone " For the purpose of this case, suffice it to say
both sides, agree that Ex. P. W. 4/3 appeals to religion.
Of course, if Ex. P. W. 4/3 had been
circulated it did contain personal vilification like "womanizing"
which in most countries and among the current generation is a vicious personal
imputation under s. 123(4) of the Act. So we will ascertain whether on March 9
and 10, handbills like Ex. P.
W. 4/3 had been published by Rahim Khan and
his agents. The rival version is that the appellant was innocent of these
leaflets which must have been concocted after defeat by the 1st respondent for
demolishing the election through Court.
Many materials have been marshalled to make
out factum of pamphlet publicity. The granite foundation for it is laid by Ex.
P. 18, an application to the Deputy Commissioner of the District to which were
annexed Ex. P. W. 4/3-4-5 (copies of handbills) and Ex. P. 19 a similar
petition despatched by post to the Chief Electoral Officer along with Ex. P. 20
and 21 handbills. P. W. 54 Usman has sworn that he had got a few handbills (the
offending ones) on March 10 from one Nihal Khan and made them over to the 1st
respondent P. W. 76. Maybe, this careerist who has been changing parties, has
been a dismissed sarpanch and is otherwise a partisan and may not by myself
embolden us to believe the leaflet story. But Ex.P.18 was undoubtedly presented
to the Deputy Commissioner on March 10, 1972 in his office at Gurgaon. His
endorsement and that of his General Assistant P. W. 4 of even date lend
strength to the case. The petition has had a natural journey into the Election
Office under the Deputy Commissioner. Thus quite a few officers and official
entries support the presence of Ex. P. 18 and the accompanying handbills on
March 10. The smoke of suspicion about the records and the obliging unveracity
of the high officials, glibly alleged, have no substance. We have carefully
examined the criticism levelled by Shri Bindra and considered the possibility
of antedating but are satisfied that the hypothesis of conspiracy for
fabrication is too fantastic to merit acceptance and the nonexamination of the
Deputy Commissioner, in addition to his General Assistant P.
W. 4, does not militate against the
acceptability of the case. The endorsement on Ex. P. 18, relevant under s. 35
of the Evidence Act, clinches the issue, read in the light of P. W. 4's
evidence. Ex. P. 19, a similar application was also presumably posted on the
10th March. It was received on 13th March, which is probable since 12th was a
Sunday. The suggested interpolation in the register kept in 20-185 Sup. CI/75
662 the office of the Chief Electoral Officer is a mirage. it has no meaning in
the absence of cross-examination. A close look at Ex. P. 19 and Ex. P. W. 2/2
dispels doubts and the entries corroborate P. W. 2's testimony as well as the
fact of the leaflets having been in existence on the 10th of March. Let us
probe the likelihood of a later fake. The petitioner had no reason to be
desperate about a defeat. In fact the lead of the appellant was narrow. Only
after the result was declared on 12th could he have thought of creating
evidence to undo the election. Both Ex. P. 18 and Ex. P. 19 became inexplicable
on that basis unless many public documents and public servants have tampered
with truth in a chain conspiracy too nefarious to be credible.
Some officers may oblige but it is unfair to
impute such gross misconduct to responsible men and flimsy fancies.
Other minor attempts to cavil at the evidence
on this part of the case merit little serious study. We broadly agree with the
High Court that the arguments of the appellant for rejection of Ex. P. 18 and
P. 19 and connected documents cannot be contemplated without importing criminal
conspiracy for which there is no foundation and they must be repelled.
However we will advert to them briefly.
We have earlier indicated our dissent from
the High Court when it trusts P. W.'s 12, 13 , 20 and 23 as reliable on leaflet
distribution because they were pre-election agents of the opposite party. Tile
Court observes "The evidence above set out under this head is fully
acceptable to me. I am specially impressed by the depositions of Din Mohd. (P.
W. 12), Roshan (P. W. 13), Mohd. Khan (P.
W. 20) and Habib (P. W. 23). All of them
worked for the returned candidate during the election and there is no reason
why they would make false depositions against the interest of the returned
candidate." Our credibility sense is sceptical of this evaluation. We
disapprove of this method and approach in assessment of evidence. Even so, let
us go into the major criticisms of the 1st respondent's case. We are not blind
to the possibility of executive officers designing to oblige Ministers in
elections as happened in Ambika Saran Singh's Case(Supra). Maybe, there is some
embarrassment for weak officials when sitting Ministers are candidates but what
can be done about it ? We have appreciated the evidence with this factor also
in mind. However, the many may be's suggested by Shri Bindra to disbelieve the
official documents are ingenious but the cross-examination of the witnesses is
innocent of them.
The appellant had applied, under Exhibit R. 1
W. 21/1 to the Deputy Commissioner for a copy of the entry in the register of
Miscellaneous Branch with regard to election posters, i.e. handbills made
mention of in the election petition. He received a reply (Exhibit R.1/A) that
no such posters had been received in the Miscellaneous Branch of the Deputy
Commissioner's office and therefore the question of their entry in the register
did not arise at all and in fact no such register had 663 been maintained in
the Miscellaneous Branch. Actually the more important document for which a copy
should have been applied for was the letter Exhibit P. 18 which was mentioned
in the List of Reliance filed along with the petition. Nor is it correct to say
that the returned candidate's application was comprehensive one. He confined
himself to the Miscellaneous Branch Register in the Deputy Commissioner's
office. What is more prevaricatory, counsel for the appellant showed us a
certified copy of Exhibit P.
18 which his client had got from the Deputy
Commissioner's office long before the written statement was filed and yet he
pleaded there in ignorance of its existence. We have examined this case from
every angle possible and are satisfied that Exhibits R1/A is of little service
in debunking Exhibit P. 18 and the leaflets accompanying it.
Repeated criticism was made by Shri Bindra
that the Deputy Commissioner was the Deputy Secretary in the Department of
which the 1st respondent was the Minister and that therefore he was prone to
help the latter. Counsel contended vehemently that officers are liable to be
pressurised and when a whole election turns on documents in the custody or
writing of officials, free and fair elections and their survival through
election petitions become precarious. He drew our attention to the observations
of Grover, J. in P.
R. Belagali v. B. D. Jatti(1) which make a
vain echo in the present case. The learned Judge there observed :
Free and fair elections are the very
foundation of democratic institutions and just as it is said that justice must
not only be done but must also seem to be done, similarly elections should not
only be fairly and properly held but should also seem to be so conducted as to inspire
confidence in the minds of the electors that everything has been above board
and has been done to ensure free elections. It will be a sad day in the history
of our country when the police and the government officers create even :an
impression that they are interfering for the benefit of one or the other
candidate. This is particularly so if a candidate is holding an important
position or assignment like respondent No.1, who at the material time was a
Minister in the State." However, these observations, pertinent as they are
in the circumstances of that case-and guidelines as they should be for
Government to follow-do not detract from the reliability of the official
records relating to Exhibits P. 18 and P. 19 or the acceptability of the
General Assistant's evidence.
It is true that the Deputy Commissioner could
well have been examined by the Court, particularly when his plea was only for a
postponement by two days on account of high blood pressure and his evidence
would have been of considerable assistance to the Court in arriving at the
truth. But this omission on the party of the Court, avoidable though it was,
has not affected materially the evidentiary value of the documents and we are
prepared to repose confidence in them.
664 Considerable criticism about P. W. 54
Usman was levelled, on a,. general ground based on non-mention of him either as
a source of information or as part of particulars. Of course, his name was
mentioned in the list of witnesses but that was in September, 1972. We are not
inclined to the view that the name of every witness should be mentioned in the
particulars except where his name becomes a necessary item of particulars. Shri
Bindra analysed the various witnesses including P..W. 54, Usman under a
microscope, dissected their evidence in the crucible of pleading-particularsinformation
source with reference to villages, public meetings, pamphlet distribution and
the like. We are satisfied that the High Court's approach is right and the
hyper-technical analysis resorted to by counsel should not be pushed to the
point of defeating justice. No corrupt practice can be established if
processual impediments are heaped up against the credibility of witnesses. Nor
can any petitioner go into such minutiae as the names of all witnesses even at
the time of election petition is prepared.
Neither S. 87 nor even S. 83 nor even rule
94A and Form 25 require this drastic attitude. Rule 12, framed by the High
Court for the trial of election petitions, it is true, does require the source
of information to be mentioned at the earliest stage and it is a wholesome
rule, to prevent afterthoughts. But every witness need not be mentioned as a
source and every source inform and need not be examined necessarily. Whether
the omission to do so in a given case reflects on the credibility of the
evidence depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. It depends on the
overall circumstances and the fairness of the trial. The observations in Ambika
Saran Singh's Case(Supra) at P. 190 are apposite :
"The question as to the extent of
particulars which the Court would demand depends on the circumstances of each
case, the nature of the charge alleged and the quality and reliability of
evidence before it." While the Court must be careful to insist that the
means of knowledge are mentioned right in the beginning to avoid convenient
embellishments and irresponsible charges, it should not stifle good and
reliable testimony or thwart proof of corrupt practices by the technicalities
Of procedure. We agree with the observations made in Balwant Singh v. Lakshmi
Narain(1) and are not deterred from considering the evidence of P. W. 54 and
others similarly circumstanced. No prejudice on account of deficiency in
particulars is made out. We have already. indicated that we would not be
prepared to base our conclusion solely on the testimony of such a witness as P.
W. 54, but that does not mean that we should blackout all evidence where the
witnesses are liable to some criticism and not consider such evidence even
though there are other reliable or incontrovertible materials which lend
assurance to its credibility.
The other point made is that there is no
entry in the register maintained in the office of the Deputy Commissioner about
Exhibit P.-18 (1) 22 E.L.R. 273.
665 This is not correct because, in a sense,
the Election Branch is also part of the Deputy Commissioner's Office and there
is an entry in the register there. The suggestion that the Deputy Commissioner
succumbed to the petitioner's pressure and antedated Ex. P. 18 is difficult to
digest. Similarly the suspicion sought to be raised about Register P. W. 2/2
kept in the Chief Electoral Officer's office on the basis that there are two
entries bearing serial number 5072 is unsound. The entry with which we are
concerned is 5072A and this is not unusual when by mistake a clerk has written
identical figures for two entries. Moreover there is no cross-examination on
this point and in the absence of cross examination giving an opportunity to the
witness to explain the circumstances from which an inference is sought to be
drawn, no such inference-.particularly of forgery and publication of documents
can be permitted to be raised.
A rather trivial argument has been made that
if a letter had been sent to Chandigarh on March, 10, the postal expenses of a
few paise should have been entered in the return of the election expenses.
Admittedly such an entry does not find a place in the return. For one thing,
the amount is so negligible that its non-mention means nothing. For another, it
is difficult to accept the plea that this candidate who was a Cabinet Minister
and was locked in bitter battle with a strong opponent in a do-or-die Struggle
would have spent only a mail sum of over Rs. 4,000. It is a notorious fact that
huge sums of money are lavished by candidates on election, thus closing the
door for ordinary people to contest democratic elections. The point is that
when suspiciously small sums are returned as election expenses, no machinery to
investigate and take action is found with the result that return of election
expenses becomes an idle ritual and not an effective check. If parties pour
funds for campaigning the law is silent and helpless. This is certainly a
matter for the Election Law to consider. It must make provision deterrent enough-so
as to enable the small man to negotiate with elective opportunities.
Even at this stage we may notice that the
handbill in question does not contain the name of the printer and publisher
although the election law so requires.
Unfortunately when such printed material is
circulated there is no agency of the law which takes prompt action after due
investigation, with the result that no printer or candidate or other
propagandist daring elections bothers about the law and he is able successfully
to spread scandal without a trace of the source, knowing that nothing will
happen until long after the election, when in a burdensome litigation this
question is raised. Timely enforcement is as important to the rule of the law
as the making of legislation.
We may conclude by holding that we accept
Exhibits P. 18 and P. 19 as genuine and concomitantly find that the handbills
containing injurious statements were in existence on or before the 10th of
March. The only question that remains is whether a nexus is established between
these handbills and the appellant and the factum of their pre poll circulation
by him or his agents is proved. Without this latter requirement being made out,
mere leaflets do not spell invalidation.
666 Once we find that Exbits P.18 and P.19
are not fabrications. ante-dated or planted in the offices of the Deputy
Commissioner and the Chief Electoral Officer bearing endorsements and entries,
involving in the process a chain of officials willing to tamper with public
records, we have to seek their probable author. The appellant's cross examination
of the witnesses who proved the handbills merely coquetted with speculative
possibilities and shifting suggestions without putting forward a credible
alternative, explaining their presence around March 10. The handbills, purport
to be issued by Rahim Khan and the motive for him to do so is strong. After
all, the evidence discloses that there were allegations in the Haryana Assembly
against the first respondent as a womanizer and in fact there was a cows laughter
case and dis-interring of a muslim grave and allegations of the hand of the
first respondent behind these doings. Quite possibly capitalising on these
straws in the wind, the appellant who was fitting his opponent hard made an
attack involving personal imputations circulated by a leaflet engagingly
presented as a string of questions with answers self-evident and involving
appeal to 'religion' not even thinly concealed. Since a number of handbills had
come into the possession of the first respondent on the 10th which lie
forwarded to the two officials along with Exhibits P. 18 and P. 19, the
circumstances be speak. prior circulation. The question is whether Rahim Khan,
the appellant, has been directly shown to be linked with it.
One cannot presume such an important
ingredient against a returned candidate unless the sure facts compel. In the
present case some clever manouvres have been made by the 1st respondent to
connect the appellant with the handbills.
Courts must be astute enough to discourage over-cleverness
of parties and decline to rely on materials which perhaps may be true but bear
the stamp of shadiness on their face.
For instance, we have Exhibit P. 5 a note
written by P. W.
21 Din Mohammad on the reverse of Exhibit P.
6, a copy of the offending handbill, Exhibit P.W. 4/3. P.W. 21 is a polling
agent of the returned candidate but swears in support of the defeated candidate
in a plausible way. He states on oath that Exhibit P. 6 reached his hands on
March 11, when it was being distributed in his village. While in the polling
station he made a note on the reverse of Exhibit P. 6 Which runs :
"Shri Samad Khanji, Very few voters are
coming from your village. The time left is short. Have the voters sent quickly.
Nangal Shahpur. Din Mohd.
Dated, the 11-3-1972" He wants us to
believe that finding that the voters of Nangal Shahpur had not turned out he
sent this note to Samad Khan, a.-worker of the returned candidate. But how did
this P. 5 get back,into the hands of Din. Mohd, while it should normally have
been with Samad Khan ? To fill up this gap P.W. 75, Sharif Khan is pressed into
service. He has a story that one Subhan Khan delivered it to him and lie, in
turn, gave it to the advocate of the petitioner in the course of the 667 trial
of the case. How can Exhibit P.6with the valuable endorsement Exhibit P. 5,
move to and from Subhan Khan (not examined) to Sharif Khan, P.W. 75 ? The
obliging Din Mohammad, who had come under the spell of the 1st respondent must
have made this telltale endorsement during the pendency of the case and the
document itself is kept back till a surprise is sprung when P.W. 21 is in the
witness box-for too unfair for its to place reliance. One lie leads to another
till a blind alley of improbability is reached.
Another Din Mohammad, P.W. 12, who also was a
polling agent of the returned candidate has turned turtle to support the
petitioner during the case by producing a copy of the handbill and a letter
Exhibit P. 11/1, addressed to one Roshan of Mewli village. This letter, Exhibit
P.W. 11/1 purports to be a confidential circular by the appellant, Rahim Khan,
requesting that the handbills be distributed discreetly among 'Muslim brethren'
eschewing 'the workers of the opposite party'. This letter, it is said, was
addressed to Roshan but was not delivered to him directly by P.W. 12 since the
former was not in his house. The tale told by P.W. 12 further is that he made
an endorsement on this letter (separately marked as P.W. 11/2) requesting
Roshan, P.W. 13, to act on the letter. What follows is still more strange.
Roshan, P.W. 13, claims to have received P.W. 11/ 1 with the note Exhibit P.W.
11/2 and fifty handbills. He delivered them to P.W. 11 Ibrahim, some days after
the polling, although this Ibrahim, P.W. 11, is a worker in the opposite camp.
The whole story sounds absurd and overworked, difficult to be accepted.
Another adventurist piece of documentary
evidence is Exhibit P. 3 with the endorsement Exhibit P. 2 on its reverse.
Mohammad Khan, P. W. 20, was a polling agent
of the returned candidate and now with easy conscience goes over to testify in
support of the 1st respondent. He alleges that Exhibit P.
3 which is a copy of the circular letter
Exhibit P. W. 11/ 1, together with some of the offending handbills, was
received through one Raj Khan and that he distributed them in the village. For
this reason he must be guilty of abetting corrupt practice, apart from being a
But what startles us is that P. W. 20 returns
the letter Exhibit P. 3 to Raj Khan after making Exhibit P. 2 note thereon,
addressed to the appellant. it reads "Ch. Rahim Khanji, I have received
the handbills through Raj Khan. I shall distribute them properly. You have not
sent me the polling agent forms although you had told me you would. Arrange to
have them sent at once.
Mohd. Khan 9-3-1972" Surprisingly enough
Raj Khan does not deliver the letter to the addressee Rahim Khan but shows it
to Sharif Khan P. W.
75. The letter asks for it but Raj Khan
seemingly faithful refuses to give it. Nevertheless this Raj Khan leaves it
outside and goes inside to get a 668 cup of tea for P. W. 75. When his back is
turned, the man with little scruples, P. W. 75, abstracts this letter and Raj
Khan never bothers about the loss. The tortuous course of Exhibit P. 3 is too true
to be credible. There is some more oral evidence of this devalued class. We do
not think we can base our conclusions safely on salvaged bits of testimony of
this contaminated sort.
There is also oral evidence identifying the
signature of the returned candidate on Exhibits P. 3 and P. W. 11/1,
particularly in the deposition of Habib, P. W. 23. He has not spoken to his
familiarity with the handwriting of the appellant. Opinion evidence is hearsay
and becomes relevant only if the condition laid down in s. 47 of the Evidence
Act is first proved. There is some conflict of judicial opinion on this matter,
but we need not resolve it here, because, although there is close resemblance
between the signature of Rahim Khan on admitted documents and that in Exhibits P.
3 and P. W. 11 / 1, we do not wish to hazard a conclusion based on dubious
evidence or lay comparison of signatures by Courts. In these circumstances, we
have to search for other evidence, if any, in proof of circulation of the
printed handbills by the returned candidate or with his consent.
Many villages have been mentioned, where
meetings were held and handbills released, but the trial Court has played safe,
if we may say so, rightly and refused to act on evidence unclear and uncertain
and has upheld the case for only ten villages out of a larger area. We have
pointed out how the learned Judge has failed to show discernment in relying on
defectionist witnesses (and in two instances, by over sight.
treated 1st respondent's polling agents as
independent witnesses). So that we are not inclined to go the length the lower
Court has gone regarding these villages. But non acceptance of the case of
public meetings addressed by the appellant together with Tayyab Hussain, R3W9,
does not necessarily mean handbills were not handed over to people.
Even where good evidence, not parrot-like
repetition, is forthcoming, as an appellate Court we hesitate to interfere, on
questions of fact where the trial Court has discarded the evidence. In our view
even the ten villages where speeches were proved to have been made, according
to the High Court, do not sound strong enough, for reasons already given. But
on the distribution of the damaging handbills, we feel confident that there is
acceptable, direct and circumstantial testimony, to accept the 1st respondent's
version. For one thing, we have found that these printed appeals did exist on
March 10-not for secreting but circulating. For another, the motive for
publishing these statements is for the appellant. Again, the circumstance that
the 1st respondent came by many copies thereof on March 10 probabilises prior
distribution, certainly with the knowledge and consent of the appellant.
Finally, there is disinterested evidence on this fact. For instance, take
village Akerrha. P.Ws. 45, 46, 47 and 48 have concurrently testified that the
returned candidate and R3W9 had visited the villages, talked, to voters and
The learned Judge discredits P. W. 46 because
he was an agent of the 1st respondent. Quite right. But the other witnesses are
not discussed at all. So we have read them 669 to ascertain their credibility,
particularly since the contrary witnesses of the appellant have been
Negative evidence is ordinarily no good to
disprove the factum of meetings. But to disbelieve a witness because he came
without summons, as the trial Court has done, is altogether wrong. Even so, the
evidence of R1 W13, R1 W14 and R1W15 was rightly rejected by the trial Judge as
However, we are satisfied that no ground exists
to disbelieve P. W. 45, an apparently disinterested person.
The non-mention of every name in the
affidavit in support of Election Petition is no ground to reject witnesses.
45 and 47 sound natural and disinterested and
no reason exists to discard their evidence regarding the nocturnal circulation
of printed handbills like, P. W. 4/3. No formal meeting was held, no chair, no
mike, no announcement nor even petromax light. Not the speeches, but the
distribution of pamphlets is the credible part of the case. The former depends
only on the oral testimony of witnesses, the latter is reinforced by actual
handbills. The same thing holds good regarding the villages where positive
findings have been recorded by the trial Court. We think that irrespective of
the election speeches by the appellant and R3W9, which may or may not be true
the last minute circulation of handbills, must be accepted.
We are aware, as noticed in B. Rajagopala Rao
v. N. G. Ranga(1) that the enemies of a winning candidate may get such notices
printed and distributed as part of the strategy of subverting an unfavourable
election result. We also remember the words of caution in other dicta already
referred to and do not rule out the possibility of officers not being
above-board where Ministers are engaged in hot and rear losing battles. It is
after anxious consideration that we have come to the ultimate inference already
expressed on Ex. P. 18, P. 19 and P. W. 4/3 and the publicity given to the
On this finding that the appellant did
distribute Ex. P. W.
4/3 type handbills, what corrupt practices
are constituted thereby? 'Character assassination'-to use a cliche-comes within
123 of the Act, since the 1st respondent has
called them false and the appellant has agreed he does not believe them to be
true. On the present view of the law, the handbills, in their climatic part,
exhort Muslims to support the appellant in. the name of 'religion'. But divine
displeasure' on account of prandial impropriety and 'undue influence' for fear
of forced pork eating, cannot be distilled from these handbills without doing
violence to the prevailing protection of the rule of law in the country.
Half serious apprehensions are not 'undue
influence' by any standards. No one in India in the '70s will shiver with fear
that a candidate, when he wins an election, will force down his throat
distasteful pork. Such chimerical apprehensions are unreal and cannot receive
judicial approval. Equally untenable is the trepidation in the hearts of the
voters that if they cast their ballots in favour of one who eats pig's meat,
the wrath of God would annihilate them.
Realism is a component of judicial
determination. Neither undue influence nor divine displeasure looms large in
(1) A.I.R. 1971 S.C. 267, 275.
670 In the ultimate analysis we hold that the
appellant did get the handbills, Exhibits P. W. 4/3 printed and distributed
among his constituents. Thereby he made statements which were untrue and which
he did not believe to be true and knew to be false, about the rival candidate
with a view to diminish the latter's prospects in the election. We further hold
that Exhibit P. W. 4/3 constitutes an appeal to religion for the purpose of
voting for and against. Thus, under these two heads, a contravention under s.
123 of the Act has been committed and for these two corrupt practices the
unseating of the appellant becomes inevitable We may mention here that while
meticulous criticism has been made by both sides of the numerous witnesses
examined in the case, not the many ripples but the major waves shape the course
of the stream in our view, so that we have paid more attention to the broad
sweep of the evidence rather that.
the little details picked up here and there
and magnified before us. Therefore, while not endorsing the entire findings of
the High Court, we uphold two of its major findings-of corrupt
practices-sufficient to undo the election of the appellant. Further in this
case the first respondent cannot claim to have been clean in alleging untenable
corrupt practices and adducing shoddy evidence.
Where both sides have soiled their hands in
the legal process, both must bear their individual burden of costs.
One last disquieting reflection is prompted
in this case.
If a blatant corrupt practice is committed during
an election, there is now no clear statutory mechanism which can
contemporaneously be set in motion by the affected party so that when it is
raw, a record and an instant summary probe is possible through an independent
semi-judicial instrumentality. Violations thrive where prompt check is
unavailable. On the other hand, effective contemporaneous machinery providing
for such checks would greatly curtail subsequent election disputes and even act
as a deterrent to the commission of corrupt practices. Elections are the
cornerstone of the parliamentary system and the arm of the law should not hang
limp in the face of open contravention.
We cannot also close this judgment without
exposing what is really a patent flaw in the judgment of the High Court.
Having found the commission of corrupt
practices by the appellant, Tayyab Hussain (a sitting Member of Parliament) and
a large number of other persons, it was the statutory duty of the Judge to name
all those who have been proved at the trial to have been guilty of any corrupt
practice [s. 99 (a) (ii).] The serious disqualification which would be visited
upon a person who is thus named has compelled the legislature to introduce the
canons of natural justice before taking this punitive step. The proviso to s. 99(a)
inhibits the naming of a person who is not a party to the petition without
giving him notice to appear and show cause and a further opportunity of
cross-exam-dining any witness who has already been examined in the case and has
given evidence against him of calling evidence in his defence and of being
heard. This Court has emphasized 671 the obligation of the Election Tribunal in
this behalf and indicated the procedure that may be adopted in Such Situation
in B. P. Mishra v. K. N. Sharma(1) R. M. Seshadri v. G. Vasantha Pai (2); and
Janak Sritar v. Mahalit R.K. Das (3). Indeed before delivering judgment in the
election, case the Court has to inform and extend an opportunity to the
collaborators in corrupt practice and in the light of the totality of evidence
on record decide the election petition and the issue of naming those guilty of
corrupt practices. This is not a facultative power of the Court but a bounden
duty cast on it. The high purpose of ensuring purity of elections is the
paramount policy inspiring this provision. The Court must strongly deter those
who seek to achieve election ends by corrupt means. It is unfortunate that
Courts and counsel are somewhat indifferent to this requirement of the statute.
If only at the end of an election case where verdicts on corrupt practices are
rendered, Courts would name all those involved in the pollution of the
electoral process, there would be some hesitation on the part of citizens in
executing these improper projects.
Counsel for the 1st respondent in this case
suggested to us that the distributors of pamphlets or, for that matter, even
the authors thereof may easily escape punishment of 'naming' by proving that
since responsible candidates had made such speeches, they did not believe the
statements to be false or even believed them to be true. We are clearly of the
view that belief in this context means reasonable belief and not easy fancy or
foolish credence. Unless the distributor of mala fide statements establishes
that he had reasonable grounds in support of his belief, tile Court will not
accept his plea and will name him. It is therefore plain that s. 123 (4) read
with s. 99 cannot stultify the provision for naming of men who deserve to be
named, However, in the present case, we have held that neither R3W9 (Tayyab
Hussain) nor the third respondent (Sohanlal) has been proved to be guilty of
corrupt practice. Similarly, we have not accepted the case that many polling
agents of the appellant had circulated the handbills. In this view, the need to
name anyone does not arise. Of course, the appellant being a party and guilty
has to suffer the penalty. We are holding against him that he got the handbills
printed and distribute but on other grounds we have exonerated him for want of
compelling,,, probative material.
(1) (1971) 1 S.C.R. 8. (2) (1969) 2 S.C.R.
(3) AIR 1972 SC/359.
672 The appellant, in this case, is less
guilty than the 1st respondent depicts him but is less innocent than he
professes. Electoral purity must claim its victim and we set aside the
appellant's election, nothing that :the virus of corrupt practices cannot be
controlled save by comprehensive systemic changes with emphasis on a fearless
enforcement instrumentality and a national political consensus to abide by
norms-a consummation devoutly to be wished. Today the yawning gap between law
in the books and un law in action has made inhibition of corrupt practices a
once-in-a-blue-moon tribunal phenomenon.
For the reasons set out above, we dismiss the
appeal with the direction that parties will bear their respective costs
V.P.S. Appeal dismissed.