Singh Vs. Harmohinder S-Ingh Pradhan  INSC 191 (6 May 1999)
JAGANNADHA RAO. Dr. Anand.CJI :
appeal calls in question the judgment and order of the High Court of Punjab
& Haryana in Flection Petition No. 7 of 1997 decided on 29th September, 1997, The appeal arises in the following
appellant contested the election to 54 Raikot Assembly Constituency in the
.general elections to the Punjab Legislative Assembly held on 7th February,
1997, The respondent; a candidate of the Indian National Congress, was declared
elected. After the declaration of the result of the elections on 10th February-
1997. the appellant filed an election petition in the High Court alleging that
the respondent was disqualified from contesting the election to the Punjab
Legislative Assembly under Section 9-A of the Representation of People Act;
1951 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act") as on the date of the
filing of the nomination paper aswell as on the date of the scrutiny of the
nomination paper, the respondent had a subsisting contract, for the sale of
liquor, with the Punjab Government, which he had obtained in partnership with
others at the auction held for the year 1996-97. The petition was resisted by
the respondent, who in the written statement denied the allegations concerning
his disqualification. A preliminary objection was raised that the election
petition was not maintainable as the same did not disclose any factual basis to
establish violation of Section 9-A of the Act. It was asserted that the
election petition did not contain any allegation to the effect that the
respondent had entered into a contract with the Government either for 'the
supply of goods or for the execution of the works undertaken by the Government'
and as such the respondent could not be said to have incurred any
disqualification under Section 9-A of the Act. The respondent Further pleaded
that the contract for sale of liquor was not such a contract to which the
provisions of Section 9-A. of the Act could be attracted. Replication was filed
and from the pleadings of the parties, the fol lowing issues were raised :
whether the respondent had subsistinci contract for the sale of the liquor from
the Punjab Government obtained in partnership for the year 1996-97 at the time
of the filling of the nomination papers and on the date of the scrutiny of the
nomination papers as alleged in Para No. 3 of the election petition, and if so,
to what effect ? OPP
Whether the election petition "is not maintainable in view of the objections
raised in Para Nos. 1 and 2 of the preliminary objections? OPR.
Whether the election of the respondent to the Punjab) Assembly from 54 - Raikot Assembly Constituency - is valid
for the reasons stated in the petition ? OPP.
Relief." The parties led evidence and after hearing their arguments, the
High Court dismissed the election petition.
the challenge in the election petition to the election of the respondent, as
canvassed before the High Court and before us, is based on Section 9-A of the
Act, it would be desirable to first notice the provisions of that Section.
Section, 9-A reads :
Disqualification for Goverrnment contracts, etc.
person shall be disqualified if, and for so long as, there subsists a contract
entered into 'by him in the cnurse of his trade or business with the
appropriate Government for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any
works undertaken by. that Government.
:- For the purposes of this section, where a contract has been fully performed
by the person by whom it has been entered into with the appropriate Government,
the contract shall be deemed not to subsist by reason only of the fact that the
Governrnent ha.s not performed its parts of the contract either wholly or in
part." On its plain reading, Sect-ion 9-A of the Act requires
that there must
be a subsisting contract which has been entered into by the person whose
candidature is sought to be disqualified with the Government;
that contract is
for the supply of goods to the Government, or
contract is for the execution of any works undertaken by the Government.
High Court held that Section 9-A. of the Act was not attracted in the fact
situation of the case. In taking this view, the High Court relied upon a
judgment given by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in B. LakshmikanthaRao vs. P Chinna
Mallaiah, AIR 1979 AP 132, which has been approved by this Court in Dewan Joynal
Abed in vs. Abdul Wazed alias ,Abdul Wazad Miah and Others, 1988 (Suppl.)SCC
to both these judgments, merely becoming a licensee with the State Government,
cannot amount to either supplying the goods to the Government or engaging in
execution of any work undertaken by the Government. Learned counsel for the
appellant fairly conceded that it was not a case of 'supply of goods to the
Government' but maintained that the subsisting contract between the respondent
and the Government amounted to 'execution of any work undertaken by the
Dewar) Joynal (supra), this Court interpret.ed the word 'works' as used in
Section 9-A of the Act and opined :
The word 'worms' In the express i on in 'execution of any works' appearing in
Section 9-A of the Act is used Jn the sense of 'projects', '.schemes',
'plants', such as bilding works, irrigation works, defence works etc.
1 in this case had not undertaken to carry on any such work. According to the
Shorter Oxford Dictionary the 'expression 'work' means a structure or anparatus
of some kind: an architectural or engineering structure, a bulldi'ng edifice.
When it is used in plural, i.e., as 'works' it means 'architectural or
fortified building; a defensive structure, fortification;
the several parts of such structure". The word 'works' used in entry 35 of
List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India which reads as
"works, lands and buildings vested in or in the possession of the .Statft"
is used in the same sense. The runn"ng of boats across in land waterways
is a topic which falls under entry 32 of List III of the Seventh Schedule which
reads thus : "Shipping and navigation on inland waterways as regards
mechanically propelled vessels, and the ru^e of the road on such waterways, and
the carriage of passengers and goods on inland waterways subject to the
provisions of List I with respect to national waterways". It is,
therefore, difficult to hold that when a person acquires the right to collect
toll at a public ferrv under Section 8 of the Ferries Act he is performing a
contract of execution of works undertaken by the government. It may have been
perhaps different if the words 'in performance of any services' which were
present in Section 7Cd) of the Act. as it stood prior to its amendment in 1958
had been there in Section 9-A of the Act." We find ourselves unable to
agree with the learned counsel for the appellant that keeping in view the
purpose for which Section 9-A of the Act was enacted, namely, to avoid any
conflict between private interest and public duty, a broad interpretation should
be placed on Section 9-A.
9-A i? a statutory orovision which imposes a disqualification on a citizen. It
would, therefore, be unreasonable to take a general or broad view, ignoring the
essentials of the Section and the intention of the legislature. Purposive
interpretation is necessary. In been correctly interpreted in the following words
analysis of Section9-A of the Act shows that only in two cases a person would
be disqualified if he has entered into a contract with the approoriate government
in the course of his trade or business which is subsisting on the date of
scrutiny of nomination. They are (1) when the contract is one for supply off
goods to the appropriate government and (ii) where the contract is for the
execution of any works undertaken by that doverment. ........
The Andhra Pradesh High Court held that since the contracts entered into by the
successful candidate with the State Government to sell arrack and toddy did not
come within the mischief of Section 9-A of the Act as thev were neither for
supply of goods to the government nor for the execution of any works undertaken
he did not suffer from any disqulification for being chosen as a member of the Ledislative
Assembly, We have gone through the above decision carefully. We are of the view
that. the High Court was right in the said case in holding that the returned
candidate had not suffered from any disqualification by reason of the fact that
he was an excise contractor" We agree with the aforesaid view. No other
point has been urged.
what we have said a.bove, we find that there is no merit in this appeal. Tt is,
accordingly) dismissed, but without any order as to costs.