Vs. Babu Gandhi & Ors  Insc 489 (22 November 2002)
S.N.Variava & D.M.Dharmadhikari. S. N. Variava, J.
Appeals are against the judgment dated 27th March, 2001. Briefly stated the facts are as
follows:- On 20th January, 2000 the election for the post of Sarpanch, Gram Panchayat,
Ringnodiya, Indore was held. After the counting of the
votes, the Appellant was orally informed that he had won the elections. However
when the result was officially declared, Respondent No. 1 was shown to have
won. The Returning Officer then issued a certificate showing that Respondent
no. 1 had won.
Appellant, therefore, filed an election petition before the Sub-Divisional
Officer. Respondent no. 1 evaded services. By an ex- parte Order the
Sub-Divisional Officer directed recounting of ballot papers. On such recounting
it was found that in respect of booth no. 151 the votes polled in favour of the
Appellant had been erroneously shown as having been polled in favour of
Respondent No. 4. On a recounting of the votes it was found that the Appellant
had won. The Sub-Divisional Officer, therefore, corrected the mistake by Order
dated 3rd February,
2000 and declared the
Appellant to have won the election.
the order of the Sub-Divisional Officer, Respondent No. 1 filed a Writ Petition
in the High Court. On 23rd
February, 2000 the
High Court disposed of the Writ Petition by remanding the matter back to
Sub-Divisional Officer. The Sub-Divisional Officer thereafter heard all parties
and again passed an order to recount. On a second recount it was again found
that the votes polled in favour of the Appellant had been erroneously shown as
having been polled in favour of Respondent No. 4. Thus the Sub-Divisional
Officer again corrected the results and declared the Appellant as having won
1st Respondent again filed a Writ Petition before the High Court. This Writ
Petition has been allowed by the Impugned Judgment. In the Impugned Judgment,
the High Court has followed a Ors. reported in AIR 1997 Supreme Court 3072. In
this decision it has been held that unless a party first applies to the
Returning Officer for recounting of votes it is not open to the Tribunal or the
Court to direct recounting. It was held that an application for recounting in
writing to the Returning Officer was an essential pre-condition.
on this authority, the High Court set aside the order of the Sub-Divisional
Officer solely on the ground that the Appellant had not applied to the
Returning Officer for recounting. The High Court did not decide any other
points raised in the Writ Petition.
these Appeals came up before a bench of two Judges of this Court they had
reservation about the principle laid down in Ram Rati's case. This matter was,
therefore, directed to be placed before a three Judge Bench. It has accordingly
been placed before us.
order to consider the correctness of the ratio laid down in Ram Rati's case it
is necessary to see the provisions of the M.P. Panchayat Raj Avam Gram Swaraj Adhiniyam,
1993 (hereinafter called the said 'Act'). Section 43 of the said Act empowers
the State Government in consultation with the State Election Commission to make
rules for preparation of electoral rolls and conduct of all elections. Section
95 further empowers the State Government to make rules for carrying out the
purposes of the said Act. Section 122 provides that an election can be called
in question only by a petition presented, in case of a Gram Panchayat, to the
80 reads as follows:-
Recount of votes.-
After an announcement has been made by the Returning Officer or such other
officer authorised by him, of the total number of votes polled by each
candidate under sub-rule (2) of rule 77, a candidate or, in his absence, his
election agent or his counting agent may apply in writing to the Returning
Officer or such officer authorised by him, for a recount of all or any of the
votes already counted, stating the grounds on which he demands such recount.
such an application being made the Returning Officer or such other officer authorised
by him shall decide the matter and may allow the application in whole or in
part or may reject it in toto if it appears to him to be frivolous or
Every decision of the Returning Officer or such other officer authorised by
him, under sub-rule (2) shall be in writing and contain the reasons therefor.
the Returning Officer or such other officer authorised by him, decides under
sub-rule (2) to allow an application either in whole or in part, he shall-
the ballot papers again in accordance with his decision;
the result sheet to the extent necessary after such recount; and
announce the amendment so made by him.
After the total number of votes polled by each candidate has been announced
under sub-rule (2) of rule 77 or sub-rule (4) the Returning Officer or such
other officer authorised by him shall complete and sign the result sheet and no
application for a recount shall be entertained thereafter;
that no step under this sub-rule shall be taken on the completion of the
counting until the candidates and election agents present at the completion
thereof have been given a reasonable opportunity to exercise the right
conferred by sub-rule (1).
counted ballot papers shall be bundled and kept in the manner mentioned in
sub-rule (3) of rule 77.
Result sheets in Form 16, 17, 18 and 19 for Panch, Sarpanch, Member of Janpad Panchayat
and Member of Zila Panchayat respectively, prepared by such other officers as
are authorised by the Returning Officer, shall be submitted by them, in
separate envelops to the Returning Officer for compilation and tabulation of
votes polled by each candidate.
Returning Officer on receipt of result sheets under sub-rule (7) shall enter of
cause to be entered the total number of votes polled by each candidate
contesting for a seat of Sarpanch, Member of Janpad Panchayat or Member of Zila
Panchayat at each polling station of the concerned constituency in subsequent
part or parts of Form 17, 18 and 19 respectively and complete and sign the
result sheet." Thus under sub-rule (5) once the result sheet is completed
and signed, no application for recount can be entertained.
81 also provides that after the counting of the votes, the Returning Officer
shall prepare a return and declare the candidate who has the largest number of
votes to have been elected. Under Rule 83, a certificate is to be granted to
the returned candidate who has been declared elected. Under Rule 84 after the
certificate has been granted, the election officer or the Returning Officer can
only correct clerical or arithmetical mistakes.
after declaration of results, the Returning Officer has no power either to
direct recount or to change the results of the election.
the result is declared, the only remedy of an aggrieved party is an Election
Petition under Section 122.
this case, as stated above, the Appellant had been orally told that he had won.
He only came to know that Respondent No. 1 had been declared elected after the
result was declared. At this stage, he could not have approached the Returning
Officer for recount. The only remedy, therefore, available to the Appellant was
to file an Election Petition.
view of Section 122 and the rules, we are unable to agree with the ratio laid
down in Ram Rati's case. It is not correct to hold that, in an election
petition, after the declaration of the result, the Court or Tribunal cannot
direct recounting of votes unless the party has first applied in writing for
recounting of votes. There is no prohibition in the Act or under the rules
prohibiting the Court or Tribunal to direct a recounting of the votes. Even
otherwise a party may not know that the recounting is necessary till after
result is declared. At this stage, it would not be possible for him to apply
for recounting to the Returning Officer. His only remedy would be to file an
Election Petition under Section 122. In such a case, the Court or the Tribunal
is bound to consider the plea and where case is made out, it may direct recount
depending upon the evidence led by the parties. In the present case, there was
obvious error in declaring the result. We, therefore, hold that the ratio laid
down in Ram Rati's case is not correct.
this view of the matter, the decision of the High Court cannot be sustained and
is, therefore, set aside. As the Writ Petition was disposed off only on the
basis of Ram Rati's case, the High Court has not dealt with other points raised
in the Writ Petition. We therefore restore the Writ Petition to the file of the
High Court. The High Court shall decide the same on merits.
Appeals stand disposed of accordingly. There shall be no order as to costs.