Rajgopala Rao & Anr Vs. Sri Appayya Dora Hanumanthu & Ors  INSC
295 (29 September 1989)
M.H. Kania, M.H. Rangnathan, S. Saikia, K.N. (J)
1990 AIR 1889 1989 SCR Supl. (1) 335 1989 SCC Supl. (2) 504 JT 1989 (4) 186
1989 SCALE (2)891
Representation of the People Act, 1951-Section 123(1)(A)(b)--Corrupt
practices--Whether certain statements made and published through the Publicity
Department of the Govt. in newspapers offering rice and dhoties on subsidised
rates to the economically backward classes of people amount to corrupt
two appeals arise out of the judgments in two Election Petitions before the
Andhra Pradesh High Court questioning the election of respondent No. 1 as a
Member of Parliament from Srikakulam No. 1 Parliamentary constituency in the
8th General Election to the House of the People on the ground that Shri N .T. Rama
Rao the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh as well as respondent No. 1 gave
certain speeches and certain advertisements were got published by Shri N.T. Rama
Rao through the Publicity Department of the Govt. of Andhra Pradesh in the
newspapers containing certain statements which are alleged to amount to a
corrupt practice within the meaning of Section 123(1)(A) of the Representation
of the People Act 1951.
the appeals, this Court,
That these advertisements and speeches amount to nothing more than statements
extorting the achievements of the Government of the State of Andhra Pradesh
under the Telegu Desham party headed by N.T. Rama Rao, Chief Minister and
contain normal election promises and these advertisements donot amount to
corrupt practices falling within the scope of sub-clause (b) of clause (A) of
sub-section (1) of Section 123 of the said Act. [337H; 338A] Ghasi Ram v. Dal
Singh & Ors.,  3 SCR 102 at pp. 109-110;
Bhanu Kumar Shastri v. Mohal Lal Sukhadia & Ors.,  3 SCR 522 at p.
543 and Harjit Singh Mann v. S. Umrao Singh & Ors.,  2 SCR 501 at p.
510, referred to.
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeals Nos. 484 & 485 of 1987.
From the Judgment and Order dated 2.12.1986 of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in
Election Petition Nos. 3 & 5 of 1985.
P. Krishna Rao, V.A. Babu and K.R. Nagaraja for the Appellants.
Bhushan, G. Narasimhulu and T.V.S.N. Chari for the Respondents.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by KANIA, J. These two appeals arise out of
the judgments in two Election Petitions in the Andhra Pradesh High Court
questioning the election of respondent No. 1 as a Member of Parliament from Srikakulam
No. 1 Parliamentary Constituency in the 8th General Election to the House of
the People. The points raised in these appeals are common and so are the
relevant facts; and, hence, they are being disposed of by this common judgment.
We propose to take note of only the few facts which are necessary for the
appreciation of the controversy before us.
polling date for the said election along with other parliamentary elections in
the State of Andhra Pradesh was December 27, 1984 but in Srikakulam No. 1 Parliamentary Constituency the
polling was countermanded and the date of polling was later fixed on January 28, 1985. In both the Election Petitions the
election of respondent No. 1 was questioned mainly on the ground that Shri N.T.
Rama Rao, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh as well as the President of the
Telugu Desam Party as well as respondent N. 1 gave certain speeches and certain
advertisements were got published by Shri N.T. Rama Rao through the Publicity
Department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh in the newspapers containing
certain statements which are alleged to amount to a corrupt practice within the
meaning of the said term in section 123(1)(A) of the Representation of the
People Act, 1951 (hereinafter referred to as "the said Act"). The
main question canvassed before us is whether the statements contained in these
aforesaid advertisements amount to a corrupt practice under section 123(1)(A)(b)
of the said Act.
123(1)(A)(b) of the said Act runs as follows:
Corrupt practices The following shall be deemed to be corrupt practices for the
purposes of this Act:
(1) 'Bribery', that is to say(A) any gift, offer or promise by a candidate or
his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his
election agent of any gratification, to any person whomsoever, with the object,
directly or indirectly of inducing-(a) x x (b) an elector to vote or refrain
from voting at an election, or as a reward to-(i) a person for having so stood
or not stood, or for having withdrawn or not having withdrawn his candidature;
or (ii) an elector for having voted or refrained from voting." The
advertisements very shortly stated, refer to the auspicious gifts made by the
Government of Andhra Pradesh to the poor people on the eve of New Year and Sankranti.
In the said advertisements, it is stated that the said Government which was
formed by the Telugu Desam Party was giving to the poor people whose income was
below Rs.6,000 per year, a kilo of rice at Rs.2 per Kg. and the said
advertisements referred to a new scheme of selling sarees and dhoties at half
prices to the poor people in the State of Andhra Pradesh having Green-cards.
Green-cards were directed to be issued to all the persons whose annual income
was below Rs.6,000. The supply of the rice at subsidised rates as aforesaid was
also to be made to the Green-card holders only. The scheme to sell sarees and dhoties
at subsidised rates was to be operative from January 26, 1985 to March
considering the question whether the said advertisement and the said speeches
amount to a corrupt practice, we are of the view that the provisions of section
123 of the said Act which deal with corrupt practices have to be interpreted,
keeping in mind that dictates of commonsense require that they never could have
been intended to treat normal election promises made in election manifestoes or
usual election speeches by members of various political parties aspiring to
power and by different candidates aspiring to get elected to legislative bodies
concerned as corrupt practices. We are of the view that these advertisements
and speeches amount to nothing more than statements extolling the achievements
of the Government of the State of Andhra 338 Pradesh under the Telugu Desam
Party headed By N.T. Rama Rao, the Chief Minister and contain normal election
promises and these statements do not amount to corrupt practices falling within
the scope of sub-clause (b) of clause (A) of sub-section (1) of section 123 of
the said Act.
urged by Mr. Rao, learned counsel for the appellants that in the impugned
judgments, the High Court has incorrectly taken the view that in order to
amount to bribery within the meaning of the said term in section 123(1)(A), the
transaction must amount to a bargain by the candidate with a view to get votes.
It was pointed out by him that the said view has been taken in the impugned
judgments, relying upon the decision of a Bench comprising two learned Judges
of this Court in Ghasi Ram v. Dal Singh and Others,  3 SCR 102 at pp
109-110. We have gone through to the relevant portion of that judgment (at page
109 and 110 of the said report). A careful perusal of the said judgment shows
that what has been really held in that case is that if the promises given or
made amount to a bargain entered into by a candidate for a vote or votes, that
would amount to a corrupt practice; but it has not been held there that unless
the act alleged amounts to such a bargain, it could not amount to a corrupt
practice. In our view, that judgment does not lay down that in order to amount
to a corrupt practice, the transaction must amount to a bargain for getting a
vote. It was pointed out by Mr. Rao, however, that such a view seems to have
been taken in two other decisions rendered by two Benches, each comprising two
learned Judges of this Court in Bhanu Kumar Shastri v. Mohan Lal Sukhadia and
Others,  3 SCR 522 at p. 543 and Harjit Singh Mann v. S. Umrao Singh and
Others,  2 SCR 501 at p. 5 10 and these judgments need to be overruled.
We do not propose to go into the correctness or otherwise of this view because,
even on the footing that in order to amount to a corrupt practice under the
aforesaid provision the alleged acts need not constitute a bargain, the acts
established in the present case, in our opinion, do not amount to a corrupt
attention was drawn by Mr. Rao to the fact that in this case the said
advertisements and the speeches had to be viewed in the context of the fact
that the advertisements were issued and the speeches were made after respondent
No. 1 filed his nomination papers on January 4, 1985, for the election and
before the election was held in the aforesaid constituency. It was further
pointed out that the offer made for the sale of sarees and dhoties at subsidised
rates was limited to the period from January 26, 1985 to March 31, 1985. It 339 cannot be denied that these factors are relevant
factors. We cannot, however, lose sight of the fact that this offer was made
not only in this constituency but throughout the State where the elections to
the House of the People were scheduled to be held, and were, in fact, held on December 27, 1984. It was only in case of this
constituency that the election to be held on the scheduled date was
countermanded and later held on January 28, 1985. We cannot lose sight of the fact that, as far as the said
speeches and the said advertisements, which were issued by the Publicity
Department of the State, are concerned, they deal in the main with the
achievements of the Government of Andhra Pradesh which, of course, was being
run by Ministers belonging to Telugu Desam Party to which respondent No. 1 also
belonged. Moreover, the offer in the advertisements for the sale of dhoties and
sarees at discount rates was in the nature of a benefit offered to poor persons
in that State. When a Government announces the measures which are intended for
the benefit of any of the classes for whose the Government can normally be
expected to work like the poor or the economical backward classes, it is only
in rare circumstances that such a promise can be said to amount to a corrupt
practice within the meaning of section 123(1)(A) even though such a promise
might be made on the eve of elections. Keeping this in mind, in our opinion,
although the offer to sell dhoties and sarees at discount rates was of a
limited duration as afore stated, it cannot be regarded as a corrupt practice.
Such an offer was bound to have financial repercussions and it is quite possible
the duration of the offer was limited to enable the Government to study the
financial repercussions rather than from any improper motive. We find support
for this view from the decision of this Court in H.V. Kamath v. Ch. Nitiraj
Singh,  1 SCC 601.1n that case an Ordinance was passed by the Government
of Madhya Pradesh as a result of which a large number of agriculturists,
namely, those holdings of plots of land of less than 7.5 acres area of paying
land revenue not exceeding Rs.5 were exempted from the payment of the land
revenue. It was held that such a concession does not amount to a gift, offer or
promise of any gratification within the meaning of section 123(1)(A) of the
said Act nor does the announcement of the declaration made at a meeting shortly
before the election or the issue of a pamphlet containing that declaration at
that time carry the matter any further. It was held that neither Shri D.P. Misra
who was the Chief Minister nor Shri S.K. Dixit who acted as his agent were
guilty of any corrupt practice within the meaning of the aforesaid provision.
next contended by Mr. Rao, although very faintly, that the High Court was in
error as it had not decided all other issues which 340 were raised in the
election petition. In this regard we cannot lose sight of the fact that the
term of the present Lok Sabha is likely to be over within a few months and
fresh elections are likely to be held and it would, therefore, be an exercise
in futility to remand the matter to the High Court for deciding the remaining
result, the appeals fail and are dismissed.
to the facts and circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs.
.J. Appeals dismissed.