Das Arora Vs. Ganeshi Lal & Ors  INSC 314 (1 September 1999)
Babu, R.C.Lahoti DR. A.S. ANAND. CJI :
appellant herein is aggrieved by the dismissal of his Election Petition by the
learned Election Judge of the High Court of Punjab & Haryana on the
preliminary issue of limitation without trial.
first respondent was declared elected to the Haryana Legislative Assembly from
Sirsa Assembly Constituency on 10.5.1996. The appellant, defeated candidate,
called in question his election on various grounds by presenting an election
petition on 1.7.1996 at 3.00
P.M. in the Registry
of the High Court of Punjab & Haryana. The election petition was resisted
and a preliminary objection was raised by respondent No. I to the effect that
the election petition had not been filed within the period of 45 days as
prescribed by Section 81(1) of the Representation of the People Act. 1951
(hereinafter "the Act") and was as such liable to be dismissed. The
learned Election Judge on the basis of the preliminary objection, raised the
following issue:- "Whether the election petition has been filed within the
period of limitation?" Vide judgment dated 16th July, 1997, the issue was decided against the election petitioner and
consequently the election petition was dismissed. In holding that the petition
had been filed beyond the period of limitation of 45 days, the learned Election
Judge relied upon a Notification issued by the Punjab & Haryana High Court
dated 27.11.1995. by which calendar of summer vacations for the year commencing
1.1.1996 to 31.12.1996 had been settled by the High Court.
counsel for the appellant, in challenging the impugned judgment of the High
Court, submitted that since the High Court was closed for summer vacations
between June I and June
30, 1996 (botii days
inclusive) the election petition presented in the Registry on the reopening day
of the High Court on July 1. 1996. was within the period of limitation.
Reliance in this behalf was placed on Section 10 of the General Clauses Act.
1897 and upon the judgments of this Court in Hari Shanker Trpathi v. Shiv Harsh
and others, (1976) I SCO 897 and Simhadri Satya Narayana Rao v. M. Budda Prasad
and others, (1994) Supp (1) SCC 449, to urge that where the High Court is
closed on account of vacations, presentation of an election petition on the
next day following the vacations, would render the election petition to have
been filed during the prescribed period, if that period fell during the
behalf of the returned candidate, on the other hand. it was asserted that since
the Notification dated 27.11.1995 issued by the High Court itself provided that
though the High Court was to remain closed for civil business during the summer
vacations, it was to remain open for the purpose of hearing an election
petition, therefore Section 10 of the General Clauses Act was not attracted.
in support of the submission was placed on the judgment of this Court in Satbir
v. Smt. Parsanni Devi & others, 1987 (73) Election Law Reports 201, wherein
a three-Judge Bench of this Court had considered a Notification issued by the
Punjab & Haryana High Court on 20th November, 1981, in almost identical
terms and held that since for the purpose of hearing of election petitions and
filing of other matters under the Representation of the People Act, the
Notification had provided an except :.
of Section 10 of the General Clauses Act was not available to an election
petitioner to file the election petition on the next day following the summer vacations.
have given our thoughtful consideration to submissions made at the bar.
81(1) of the Act deals with the presentation of election petitions and provide:
Presentation of petitions.-(l) An election called in question any election may
be presented on one or more of the grounds specified in sub-section (1) of
section 100 and section 101 to the High Court by any candidate at such election
or any elector within forty-five days from.
not earlier than the date o. 'lection of the returned candidate or if there are
more than one returned candidate at the election and dates of their election
are different, the later of those two dates" On its plain reading. Section
81(1) Says down that an election petition calling in question any election may
be presented on one or more of the grounds specified in sub-section (1) of
Section 100 and Section 101 of the Act to the High Court by any candidate at
such election or by an elector within forty-five days from. But not earlier
than. the date of election of the returned candidate, or if there are more than
one returned Candida.. at the election and the dates of their election are
different, the later of those two dates. The Act is a special code providing a
period of limitation for filing of an election petition. No period for filing
of an election petition is prescribed under the Indian Limitation Act. The Act
insofar as it relates to presentation and trial of election disputes is a
complete code and a special law. The scheme of the special law shows that the
provisions of Sections 4 to 24 of the Indian Limitation Act do not apply.
election petition is not filed within the prescribed period of fortv-five days.
Section 86(1) of the Act. which provides that the High Court shall dismiss an
election petition which does not comply with the provisions of Section 81 or
Section 82 or Section 117. is straightaway attracted.
next question, however, which arises for consideration is whether Section 10 of
the General Clauses Act. 1897 can apply in a case where the prescribed period
of limitation expires during the vacations of the High Court? Section 10 of the
General Clauses Act reads :
Computation of time. (1) Where, by any Central Act or Regulation made after the
commencement of this Act, any act or proceeding is directed or allowed to be
done or taken in any Court or office on a certain day or within a prescribed
period, then, if the Court or office is closed on that day or the last day of
the prescribed period, the act or proceeding shall be considered as done or
taken in due time if it is done or taken : the next day afterwards on which the
Court or office is open :
that nothing in this section shall apply to any act or proceeding to which the
Indian Limitation Act, 1877 (XV of 1887) applies:
proviso to Section 10 makes the provisions of Section 10 inapplicable to cases
where the Indian Limitation Act applies and since Indian 5 Limitation Act does
not apply to election petitions filed under the Act Section 10 of the General
Clauses Act in term would apply to the filing of election petitions also.
to Section 10 (supra) an act should be considered to have been done within the
prescribed period, if it is done on the next day on which the Court or office
applicability of Section 10 (supra) would, however, depend upon the facts of
each case and the manner in which the High Court transacts its business during
the period of -^cations.
Rules and Orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court do not
settle the calendar of summer vacations. It is an admitted case of the parties
that settlement of summer vacations is done by issuance of a Notification;
which contains all matters connected therewith. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had. as in
the previous years, issued a Notification on 27.11.1995. settling the summer
vacations and providing therein the manner in which the High Court would
function during the summer vacations.
the benefit of Section 10 of the Genera Clauses Act can be availed of to save
the period of limitation in the present case would therefore, depend upon the
terms of the Notification issued by the Punjab & Haryana High Court on
27.11.1995. That Notification inter alia provides :
is hereby notified for general information that the Court of Punjab &
Haryana at Chandigarh will be closed for Civil business except for hearing
Election petitions or any other matter arising out of the Representation of
People Act, 1951 urgent Civil Appeals''Petinons etc. including petitions under
Art. 226 of the Constitution of India on account of long vacations in the year
1996 from June I to June
30, 1996 (both days
.inclusive). The court will resume sitting on July 1. 1996 (Monday).
this period except on Sundays and Holidays Appeals/Petitions etc. will be received
at the Court at Chandigarh from such persons as may choose to
ours) The above Notification unambiguously provides that during the summer
vacations i.e. period between June I to June 30, 1996 (both days inclusive)
while the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh would remain closed
for civil business, it would be open for "hearing of election petitions or
any other matter arising out of the Representation of the People Act'. The
learned Election Judge of tlie High Court was, under the circumstances,
justified in holding that benefit of Section 10 of the General Clauses Act was
not available to the election petitioner to save the period of limitation as
undisputedly the election petition had been filed, on reopening day of the High
Court after summer vacations, but after the expiry of the period of forty-five
days prescribed under Section 81(1) of tlie Act. which period had expired
during the period of summer vacations. In view of the clear language of the
notification, there was no impediment in the way of the appellant to present
the election petition during the summer vacations. The judgments in Hari
Shanker Tripathi v. Shiv Harsh and others and Simhadri Satya Narayana Rao v. M,
Budda Prasad and others (supra) relied upon by learned counsel for the
appellant are clearly distinguishable. In the notifications issued in those
cases by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and the Andhra Pradesh High
Court, respectively, the entire period of summer vacation was declared as
"closed holidays" in the case of the High Court of Allahabad, and for
the entire period of Sankranthi vacation, the Andhra Pradesh High Court was
also to remain closed. Unlike the notification of Punjab & Haryana High
Court dated 27.11.1995. in none of the Notifications settling the vacations in
the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and tlie Andhra Pradesh High Court, was any exception made with respect
to the hearing of election petitions or any oilier matter arising out of the
Representation of the People Act.
10 of the General Clauses Act was. in tliose cases, clearly attracted to save
the period of limitation by filing an election petition, on the first reopening
day of the High Court, since the prescribed period of limitation had expired
during the "closed holidays' or 'Sankranthi vacations'. It was in tills
fact situation that the cases of Hari Shanker Tripathi and Simhadri Safya
Narayana Rao were decided.
judgements, therefore, cannot advance the case of the appellant. On the other
hand, the judgment of this Court in Satbir v. Pmt Parsanni Devi & others
(supra) which considered a Notification issued by Punjab and Haryana High Court
on an earlier occasion, in identical terms as the Notification dated
27.11.1995, applies with all force to the facts and circumstances of the
present case. In Satbir's case (supra) the benefit of Section 10 of the General
Clauses Act was denied to the election petitioner and the election petition,
not filed within the period of forty-live days which expired during the summer
vacations, but filed on the reopening day of the High Court after the summer
vacations, was held as barred by time because of the exc ion contained in the
Notification regarding the hearing of election petitiotts etc. during the
period of summer vacations.
not impressed by the argument of learned counsel for the appellant that in view
of the serious charges which had been levelled against the returned candidate
in the election petition, the same ought not to have been dismissed on the
ground of limitation, as the purity of election process is required to be
is no quarrel with the proposition that it is the duty of the Courts to
maintain the purity of election promess but at the same time there is no
gainsaying that the law of limitation may harshly effect a particular party,
but it has to be applied with all its vigour when the statute so prescribes.
The Courts cannot extend the period of limitation on equitable grounds more
particularly in the matter of filing of election petitions under the Act.
Since, it is a common ground that the election petition in the instant case had
been filed one week after the expiry of the period of forty five days, it was
clearly barred by time. The High Court was, under the circumstances, fully
justified in dismissing the election petition on that ground. We do not find
any merit in this appeal which accordingly fails and is dismissed but with no
order as to costs.