Bhagwan Dass Sehgal Vs. State of
Haryana & Ors  INSC 229 (5 November 1974)
SARKARIA, RANJIT SINGH SARKARIA, RANJIT SINGH
CITATION: 1974 AIR 2355 1975 SCR (2) 580
Constitution of India 1950, Article 14 and
191-Office of Chairman of Improvement Trust, if office of profit-Removal of
disqualification-If amounts to discrimination.
In the contest for election to the Haryana
Legislative Assembly one of the respondents, who was the Chairman of the Ambala
Improvement Trust.. was declared elected. The appellant challenged the election
on the grounds that : (i) the respondent's nomination was improperly and
illegally accepted because he was holding an office of profit under the State
Government, and (ii) S. 2(i) of the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention and
Disqualification) Act, 1952, introduced by the Haryana Amending Act 25 of 1969,
enacted by the Haryana State Legislature under Art. 191 of the Constitution
which purported to take the office of the Chairman of an Improvement Trust out
of the purview of an office of profit, was invalid as it offended Art. 14 of
The High Court dismissed the petition.
Dismissing the appeal to this Court,
HELD:(1) The office of the Chairman of an
Improvement Trust constituted under the Punjab Town Improvement Act is an
office of profit, but s. 2(i) provided that such a person does not incur the
disqualification for being chosen as and for being a member of the Haryana
State Legislative Assembly. [581H-582B] (2)(a) Article 191(1)(a) of the
Constitution gives a wide power to the State Legislature to declare by law what
office or offices of profit held under the government shall not disqualify the
holder thereof from being chosen or for being a member of the state
Legislature. Classification is thus left primarily to legislative discretion
and when this power is exercised reasonably in a manner which does not drain
out the article of its real content the court will not interfere. [582H-583B]
(b)There is no discrimination between the chairman of the trust and the members
of the trust. In the case of the members of the trust the disqualification on
the ground of their holding the office of profit had been removed by s. 2(e) of
(c)Further, the status and responsibilities
and other conditions of the office of the Chairman of an Improvement Trust
differ from those of the members of the trust or other statutory bodies, and
therefore, the mere fact that for the purpose of removing the disqualification
the Chairmen have been put in cl. (i) as a class se rate from that of the
members of the Trust and other statutory bodies in cl. (e) of s. 2 does not
offend the guarantee of equal treatment.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 1188 of 1973.
Appeal by Special Leave from the Judgment
& Order dated the 11th October, 1972 of the Punjab & Haryana High Court
in C.W. No. 2490 of 1970 and Civil Appeal No. 1 of 1973.
From the Judgment & Order dated the 30th
October, 1972 of the Punjab Haryana High Court in Election Petition No. 19 of
D.V. Patel, S. S. Khanduja and S. K. Jain for
the appellant (In both the appeals) 581 V.M. Tarkunde, V. C. Mahajan and R. N.
Sachthey for respondent No. 1 (In CA No. 1188/73.
Uma Datta for respondents Nos. 2 (In CA. No.
1188/73.) and respondent No. 1 (In C.A. No. 1 of 1973).
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
SARKARIA J.-The common question that arises for determination in these appeals
is Whether Clause (i) in Section 2 of the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention
of Disqualification) _Act 7 of 1952 ,(hereinafter referred to as the
Disqualification 'Act) inserted by Haryana Amendment Act 25 of 1969 suffers
from the vice of discrimination and as such, is an invalid piece of legislation
? Both these appeals will therefore be disposed of by this judgment.
The appellant and respondents, as rival
candidates, contested the election to Haryana Legislative Assembly from Ambala
Cantonment Constituency in March 1972. Hans Raj Suri, Respondent was declared
elected. The appellant, Bhagwan Dass Sehgal challenged this Respondent's
election on the ground that his nomination papers had been improperly and
illegally accepted. It was alleged that on the material dates, the respondent
being a Chairman of the Ambala Improvement Trust was holding an office of
profit under the Government of the State, and as such, was disqualified from
contesting the election. It was further pleaded that cl.
(i) of s.2 of the Disqualification Act 1952
(added by the Haryana Amendment Act 25 of 1969) which purported to take the
office of the Chairman of an Improvement Trust out of the purview of an 'office
of profit' was invalid as it offended Article 14 of the Constitution.
The validity of the aforesaid c (i) was also
challenged separately, under Article 226 of the Constitution in a writ petition
on the same grounds.
The learned single-Judge before whom the writ
petition first came up for hearing, got it referred to a Division Bench of the
High Court, which dismissed the writ petition. In consequence, the election
petition, also, was dismissed.
Hence these appeals.
A few facts may now be set out:
It is not disputed that at the date of filing
the nomination papers and also on the date' of' their scrutiny, the respondent
was Chairman of the Ambala, Improvement Trust.
He was appointed by the State Government
under s. 4 and 5 of the Improvement Act by a notification dated May 21, 1970.
As Chairman he was receiving a salary of Rs.
plus Dearness and Conveyance Allowances. It
is also not disputed that the power of appointment and removal of the Chairman
of the Trust vests in the State Government and his remuneration is paid out of
the public revenues. In short, the office of the Chairman has all the
attributes of an "office of profit'. But for the impugned provision, the
respondent would have been disqualified from contesting the election.
582 By virtue of. the powers conferred by
Article 191 of the Constitution, the Legislature of Haryana State enacted the
Amendment Act 25 of 1969, whereby it inserted the impugned cl. (i) in the
original s. 2 of the Disqualification Act.
The effect of this amendment is that a person
holding the office of the Chairman of an Improvement Trust constituted under
the Punjab Town Improvement Act or the office of the Chairman of the State
Agricultural Marketing Board constituted under s.3 of the Punjab Agricultural
Produce Markets Act, 1961, does not incur the disqualification for being chosen
as, and for being a member of the Haryana State Legislative Assembly.
Mr. D. V. Patel, learned Counsel for the
appellant contends that the impugned provision is discriminatory inasmuch as it
enables the Chairman of the Trust to contest an election to the State Assembly
by removing his disqualification but does not accord the same treatment to the
members of the Trust appointed under s. 4(i) (c) of the Improvement Act. It is
further urged that the impugned provision has created an unreasonable
classification between the members of the statutory bodies falling under clause
(e), and a Chairman of the Improvement Trust falling under clause (i) of s. 2
of the Disqualification Act.
To us, these contentions appear to be devoid
In the case of members of the Trust appointed
under S. 4(i) (c) of the Improvement Act, the disqualification on the ground of
their holding the office of profit, had already been removed by clause (e) of
S. 2 of the Disqualification Act, 1952, which runs thus :
"A member of any statutory body or
authority, or a member of an Committee or other body, appointed or constituted
by the Punjab Government, and who is not in receipt of a salary but who is paid
only travelling and daily allowance during the performance of his duties."
It is therefore not correct to say that the members of the Trust have been
discriminated against in the matter of removing the disqualification.
It is noteworthy that the status,
administrative responsibilities and other conditions which go with the office
of the Chairman of the Improvement Trust are not the same as those of the
members of the Trust or other statutory bodies. The mere fact therefore, that
for the purpose of removing the disqualification, the Chairmen of the Improvement
Trusts have been put in clause (ii) as a class separate from that of the
members of the Trust and other statutory bodies in clause (e) of s.2 does not
offend the guarantee of equal treatment enshrined in Article 14 of the
It must be remembered that Article 191(1) (a)
of the Constitution gives a wide power to the State Legislature to declare by
law what ,office or offices of profit held under the Government shall not
disqualify the holder thereof from being chosen or for being a member of the
Classification of such offices for the
purpose 583 of removing the disqualification has thus been left primarily to legislative
discretion. It follows that so long as this exemptive power is exercised
reasonably and with due restraint and in a manner which does not drain out
Article 191 ( 1 ) (a) of its real content or disregard any constitutional
guarantee or mandate, the Court will not interfere. Nothing of this kind has
been done by the impugned provisions which would justify the invocation of the
extraordinary powers of the Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.
No other point has been argued before us.
In the result the appeals fail and are hereby
dismissed with cost shearing fee limited to one set.