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Judgments of Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Madiraju Venkata Ramana Raju vs Peddireddigari Ramachandra … on 21 March, 2018

1

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 9466-9468 OF 2016

Madiraju Venkata Ramana Raju …. Appellant

:Versus:

Peddireddigari Ramachandra Reddy Ors. ….Respondents

JUDGMENT

A.M. Khanwilkar, J.

1. The present appeals emanate from the judgment and order

dated 2nd August, 2016 of the High Court of Judicature at

Hyderabad for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, striking off

paragraphs 2 9 to 11 of the election petition as also dismissing

the election petition, being Election Petition No.8 of 2014 filed by

the appellant challenging the election of respondent No.1.
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
SUBHASH CHANDER
Date: 2018.03.21
18:20:26 IST
Reason:

2

2. The election in relation to Andhra Pradesh State Legislative

Assembly was held on 7th May, 2014. The appellant and respondent

No.1 contested the election from the Punganur Assembly

Constituency. The respondent No.1 was declared as an elected

candidate. By way of an election petition, the appellant challenged

the election of respondent No.1 on the ground that respondent No.1

had grossly violated several instructions issued by the Election

Commission as also the provisions of The Representation of the

People Act, 1951 (for short, ―the Act‖). Respondent No.1, in turn,

took out two applications seeking to strike out paragraphs 2 9 to

11 of the said election petition and to dismiss the election petition

in limine, both of which were ultimately allowed by the High Court.

3. The background to the present conflict is set out as under:

a. On 12th April, 2014, a notice of election was issued, inter

alia for a seat from the Punganur Assembly Constituency to

the Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Assembly;

b. Respondent No.1, a member of the Yuvajana Shramika

Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) filed his initial nomination form

for the aforesaid elections on 12th April, 2014 along with two
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affidavits and again, second nomination form on 17th April,

2014 with two fresh affidavits. Appellant, a member of the

Telugu Desham Party (TDP), filed his nomination form on 17th

April, 2014.

c. After scrutiny of the nomination forms, on 21st April,

2014, a total of 8 (eight) candidates, including the appellant

and respondent No.1, were found eligible to contest the

elections;

d. Appellant had filed objections on the same day i.e. 21st

April, 2014, objecting to the acceptance of nomination forms of

respondent No.1 on the ground that he had failed to sign every

page of the affidavits in support of his nomination forms and

had also failed to fill up all the columns in his forms, contrary

to the rules prescribed in that regard. Respondent No.1 filed

his counter to the said objection petition;

e. The Returning Officer rejected the objection petition on

the ground that the said petition needed no consideration and

was hence over-ruled;

f. The elections were held on 7th May, 2014, and results

were declared on 16th May, 2014. Respondent No.1 was
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declared as the elected candidate, having secured the highest

number of valid votes. Appellant finished second while the

remaining 6 (six) candidates lost their deposits;

g. Appellant then challenged the election of respondent No.1

by way of an election petition dated 25th June, 2014, under

Section 81 read with Sections 83, 100(1)(a) and (d)(i) of the Act

before the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad. He also

sought a declaration that he was the duly elected member of

the State Legislative Assembly of the 284-Punganur Assembly

constituency;

h. Respondent No.1 then took out two applications in the

said petition viz. E.A. No. 329 of 2015 under Order VI Rule 16

of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (for short ―CPC‖) for

striking out the averments made in paragraphs 2 9 to 11 of

the election petition as being frivolous and vexatious, followed

by E.A. No. 330 of 2015 under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC

seeking to dismiss the election petition for failing to disclose a

cause of action;

i. Appellant also took out miscellaneous applications for

permission to file rejoinder affidavit, expediting the election
5

petition and for taking note of suppression of material facts by

respondent No.1;

j. The High Court vide its judgment dated 2nd August,

2016, (―impugned judgment‖) allowed both the applications of

respondent No.1, eventually dismissing the election petition for

want of cause of action. The High Court broadly considered

three points. First, the sweep of the terms ―material facts‖ and

―cause of action‖ in reference to an election petition; second,

whether material facts and cause of action have been pleaded

in the subject election petition necessitating a trial; and, third,

whether the election petition as filed deserved to be rejected in

limine without conducting a trial. While dealing with the first

point, the High Court first discussed about the inter-play

between Sections 81, 83, 100 and 101 of the 1951 Act. It held

that the mandate of these provisions is that the election

petition must contain a concise statement of material facts on

which the appellant relies and that for the election petition to

succeed, the appellant should establish that the nomination of

the returned candidate was improperly accepted and further,

due to such improper acceptance, the election of the returned
6

candidate has been materially affected. The High Court relied

upon the cases of Azhar Hussain vs. Rajiv Gandhi,1 Ram

Sukh Vs. Dinesh Aggarwal,2 Pendyala Venkata Krishna

Rao Vs. Pothula Rama Rao,3 Hari Shanker jain Vs. Sonia

Gandhi,4 and Nandiesha Reddy Vs. Kavitha Mahesh5 and

culled out the principles as follows:-

―15) So, on a compendious study of above precedential
jurisprudence we will understand:

(i) The phrase material facts employed in Section
83(1)(a) of R.P.Act has not been defined and its meaning is a
contextual one in a given election petition.

(ii) Material facts or facta probanda are those basic,
elementary and prime facts which the election petitioner
shall plead and if traversed prove for the Court to afford a
decree.

(iii) Whereas material particulars or facta probantia are
the particulars in the form of evidence further vivify, refine
and make more clear the material facts.

(iv) Material facts are the entire bundle of facts which
constitute a complete cause of action for the petitioner and
total defence for the respondent.”

Having said this, the Court then analysed the averments in the

election petition in the following words:-

―16) POINT No.2: I have carefully scrutinized the contents of
the election petition to know whether the 1st
respondent/election petitioner had pleaded all the relevant
material facts and they constitute cause of action to proceed
with trial. It is observed that in his pleadings he has

1 1986 (1) (Supp) SCC 315
2 (2009) 10 SCC 541
3 2005 (3) ALD 47
4 (2001) 8 SCC 233
5
(2011) 7 SCC 721
7

reproduced the five objections taken by him before the 8th
respondent/Returning Officer at the time of scrutiny of
nomination and reiterated that the Returning Officer has
rejected his objections contrary to the Conduct of the
Election Rules and guiding principles. He has given the table
showing the votes polled to each contesting candidate and
pleaded that he stood second highest in the tally. As rightly
contended by the petitioner except fulminating that the
Returning Officer has unduly rejected his objections, the
1st respondent has not furnished the material facts in his
pleadings as to how in his perception and in the eye of
law, the order of the Returning Officer is impugnable. A
mere scourging of the order of the Returning Officer
howsoever fiercely, it must be said, will not constitute
material facts and give rise to cause of action unless the
pleadings are balanced with the factual and legal reasons
projecting where and how the impugned order suffered
perversity and illegality. In the instant case, in my
considered view, unfortunately the pleadings are totally
bereft of such material facts. On completion of reading
of pleadings one fails to understand how the order of the
Returning Officer was at fault.

a) Paras-2, 9 to 11 are specifically attacked by the petitioner
on the ground that pleadings in those paras are not
supported by any material facts and hence they are liable to
be struck out. In para-2 the 1st respondent narrated the five
objections taken by him. In para-9 he expressed his
grievance that 8th respondent has not considered his
objection and his order is contrary to the judgment of the
Apex Court in Resurgence Indias case (10 supra). He further
mentioned in that para that as per the aforesaid judgment,
filing of an affidavit with blank particulars will render the
affidavit nugatory. In para-10 he pleaded that in the light of
the Apex Courts judgment 8th respondent ought to have
rejected the improper nomination of the instant petitioner.
He also pleaded that instant petitioner misrepresented the
Election Commission as well as 8th respondent as he has not
added Rs.21 lakhs to the gross total of his assets and
showed the gross total of his assets and showed the gross
total as Rs.2,79,67,680/- instead of Rs.3,00,67,680/-.
Whereas in para-11 under the caption Grounds 1st
respondent reiterated that 8th respondent has made
improper acceptance of nomination. The cumulative effect
of paras-2, 9 to 11 is nothing but again lampooning the
order of 8th respondent as erroneous without
demonstrating as to how his order was factually and
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legally perverse and wrong. Even the mentioning of the
judgment in Resurgence Indias case (10 supra) and the
allegation that the petitioner suppressed Rs.21 lakhs
from the total assets, we will presently see, will not
constitute any material facts so as to strengthen the
allegations in paras-2, 9 to 11.‖

(emphasis supplied)

4. Relying on the decision in Pothula Rama Rao Vs. Pendyala

Venkata Krishna Rao and Ors.,6 the High Court concluded that

the pleadings in paragraphs 2 and 9 to 11 were frivolous and

vexatious and not containing any material facts and cause of

action, for which the same were liable to be struck off. The High

Court then proceeded to examine the third point with an opening

remark that the election petition filed by the appellant was woefully

silent about the material facts constituting cause of action. It then

proceeded to consider the argument of the appellant as to how the

order of the Returning Officer was factually and legally incorrect. It

first considered objection Nos.1 and 3 taken by the appellant that

respondent No.1 had not signed at the bottom of each and every

page of the affidavit in Form No.26, which was violative of Rule 35

of Civil Rule of Practice and that mere signing the last page of

6
(2007) 11 SCC 1
9

affidavit was not enough. After adverting to Rule 35 of Civil Rule of

Practice, the High Court concluded that the said Rule was

inapplicable to the Form of affidavit filed before the statutory

authority such as the Returning Officer. It then referred to the

Hand-book for the Returning Officer-2014 issued by the Election

Commission of India prescribing form of affidavit to be submitted by

the contesting candidates. As per the said instructions, the

candidate is required to sign on the last page of the affidavit. On

this finding, the objection of the appellant was negatived. While

dealing with the objection No.2(a) taken by the appellant that in

Serial No.2 of Item No.4 in one of respondent No.1‘s affidavits, the

space under the heading of Total Income shown in IT returns

relating to wife of petitioner was left blank. Further, the candidate is

not entitled to file two affidavits in Form 26 in terms of Notification

No.3/4/2012/SDR dated 24th August, 2012, issued by the Election

Commission of India. Furthermore, respondent No.1 did not

disclose the crucial information relating to criminal background if

any, assets, liabilities and educational qualifications etc., which

rendered the nomination form invalid as per Kisan Shankar
10

Kathore Vs. Arun Dattatray7. The High Court rejected even this

objection. While dealing with the instructions issued by the Election

Commission of India, the High Court opined that the candidates

were required to declare the information about the criminal

background if any, assets, liabilities, educational qualification etc.

The amended Form 26 was a comprehensive form to include all the

information that was sought in the two separate affidavits. The

revised form of Form 26 was notified in the official gazette on 1st

August, 2012, whereafter, the Election Commission of India made it

clear by its Notification dated 24th August, 2012, that the candidate

shall file only one affidavit in the revised Form 26. At the same

time, the High Court held that the Notification did not put any

embargo on the candidate to file multiple nomination papers

contrary to Section 33(6) of the 1951 Act. On this basis, the

decision in Kisan Shankar Kathore (supra) was distinguished.

While dealing with objection Nos.2(b) and 4 raised by the appellant,

that in Item No.6 the respondent No.1 did not strike-out the

inapplicable words in the Form and thus suppressed crucial facts

relating to his involvement in offence, if any, the High Court noted

7 (2014) 14 SCC 162
11

that mere failure to strike out the inapplicable words would not lead

to an inference that there was suppression of any material facts.

For, the respondent No.1 had placed on record the same facts

against columns (a), (b), (c) and (d) being not applicable. The High

Court distinguished the decision of this Court in the case of

Krishnamoorthy Vs. Siva Kumar and others 8 . In examining

objection No.2(c) regarding Item No.8(III) of Part-B of the affidavit

under the heading ‗Approximate Current Market Price‘, which was

left blank by respondent No.1, the High Court accepted the plea of

respondent No.1 that the said information was disclosed against the

columns (a) and (b). It held that the candidate is required to give the

same particulars against columns (a) and (b) and not against the

heading. The decision of this Court in the case of Resurgence India

Vs. Election Commission of India9 was thus distinguished. While

dealing with the fifth objection regarding the proxy of the

respondent No.1, namely, P. Dwarakanath Reddy, regarding failure

to put his signature on each and every page of affidavit and Form

26 and later withdrawal of his nomination, the High Court found

that respondent No.1 has nothing to do with the nomination of P.
8
(2015) 3 SCC 467
9
(2014) 14 SCC 189
12

Dwarakanath Reddy. In other words, the High Court examined each

objection raised by the appellant before the Returning Officer and

reiterated in the election petition on its own merit to conclude as

follows:-

―23) Thus, none of the objections raised by the 1st
respondent before the 8th respondent and repeated in his
election petition merit consideration. Apart from the above,
the 1st respondent in para-10 of the election petition has
taken a new ground to the effect that the petitioner has
concealed Rs.21 lakhs worth of movable assets of his wife
and showed his gross total value as Rs.2,79,67,680/-
instead of Rs.3,00,67,680/-. It must be held that this
objection also does not hold water. In Item No.VII the
petitioner has shown item wise moveable assets of his wife-
G. Swarnalatha and showed their gross total value as
Rs.2,79,67,680/-. However, the total value comes to
Rs.3,00,67,680/-. It is only a mistake in totaling the items of
moveable properties. Since there is no concealment of any
item, the clerical error in totaling cannot be taken as a
felony.

24) Thus, on a conspectus, the election petition is
liable to be dismissed in limine without necessity of
conducting trial for two reasons – firstly, the petition is
bereft of material facts and cause of action and secondly,
the objections raised before the 8th respondent and
repeated in the election petition do not merit
consideration, which can be and in fact, have been,
decided without necessity of conducting trial. It is true
that in Ashraf Kokkurs case (5 supra) cited by the 1st
respondent the Apex Court held that when the facts disclose
material facts and cause of action though not complete
cause of action, the election petition need not be dismissed
at the threshold. However, in the instant case, as already
observed supra, the election petition totally lacks
material facts except repetition of the objections raised
before the 8th respondent. Therefore, election petition
merits dismissal.

a) As already stated supra, the 1st respondent has raised
some new objections with regard to alleged suppression of
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assets of the petitioner and his wife in his counter for the
first time but not pressed the said objection. Hence, the said
objection is not taken into consideration. So, at the outset,
the two petitions filed by the petitioner deserve to be allowed
and consequently the election petition is liable to be
dismissed in limine.

This point is answered accordingly.‖

(emphasis supplied)

On this basis, the High Court allowed EA No. 329 of 2015 filed by

respondent No.1 for striking out the pleadings in paragraphs 2 and

9 to 11 of the election petition being frivolous and vexatious and not

containing material facts and cause of action therein. The High

Court also allowed the second application filed by respondent No.1

being EA No.330 of 2015 and rejected the Election Petition No.8 of

2014 in limine.

5. We have heard Mr. Siddharth Luthra, learned senior counsel

appearing for the appellant and Mr. Raju Ramachandran, learned

senior counsel appearing for the contesting respondent.

6. The principal contention of the appellant is that whilst

dismissing his election petition, the High Court has overlooked the

cause of action stated in the election petition, which arose from the
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fact that two different sets of nomination forms and affidavits were

filed by respondent No.1 containing several material deficiencies

and discrepancies and which was fatal. In other words, the

nomination form of respondent No.1 was wrongly accepted and it

materially affected the election results of the appellant. According to

the appellant, the affidavits filed by respondent No.1 in support of

his nomination forms admittedly contained blank columns and did

not contain his signature on every page, which was not only in

contravention of several judgments of this Court, but also violated

Section 125A(i) of the Act and additionally, was also against several

circulars issued by the Election Commission. Respondent No.1 also

filed two affidavits along with each one of his nomination forms, in

direct contravention of the mandate in the instructions issued by

the Election Commission permitting for only one affidavit to be filed.

Further, perusal of the said affidavits would reveal that respondent

No.1 had suppressed crucial information relating to movable and

immovable assets owned by him and his family members and in

fact, filed a conflicting affidavit before the Speaker of the State

Legislative Assembly. In light of respondent No.1‘s suppression of

significant information, the matter in issue required a full-fledged
15

trial and the High Court committed manifest error in dismissing the

election petition in limine. The High Court also erred in striking off

paragraphs 2 and 9 to 11 of the election petition on the ground that

the averments contained therein were vexatious and frivolous,

without giving any legal justification for the same. The High Court

also took into account pleadings made in the counter/reply

submitted by respondent No.1 as opposed to only considering the

averments made in the election petition. Further, respondent No.1

had failed to specifically deny the allegations/averments in the

election petition.

7. Mr. Siddharth Luthra relies upon the judgments of this Court

in Resurgence India (supra), Krishna Murthy (supra), Duni

Chand Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh Ors.10, Kuldeep Singh

Pathania Vs. Bikram Singh Jaryal 11 , D. Ramachandran Vs.

RV Jankiraman Ors.12, Asharaf Kokkur Vs. KV Abdul Khader

Ors. 13 , Virender Nath Gautam Vs. Satpal Singh Ors. 14 ,

Kishan Shankar Kathore (supra), Harkirat Singh Vs. Amrinder

10 (2014) 16 SCC 152
11 (2017) 5 SCC 345
12 (1999) 3 SCC 267
13 (2015) 1 SCC 129
14 (2007) 3 SCC 617
16

Singh15, Mohd. Akbar Vs. Ashok Sahu Ors.16, RK Roja Vs. US

Rayudu Anr. 17 , Mairembam Prithviraj Vs. Pukhrem

Sharathchandra Singh 18 and Shri Balwant Singh Vs. Sri

Laxmi Narain19.

8. Per contra, Mr. Raju Ramachandran, learned senior counsel

appearing for respondent no.1, submits that the findings of the

Returning Officer, as regards the objections taken by the appellant

to respondent No.1‘s nomination form, were just and proper. He

submits that every election petition is not required to go for trial,

merely for performing a formal exercise. The present case was

purely based on documents on record and there was no

requirement of leading evidence in that regard. Even before the

High Court, only technical pleas were argued, none of which were

borne out by the record. As per Section 36(4) of the Act, respondent

No.1‘s nomination paper could be rejected merely on technical

pleas. Since it is well settled that an election petition was a

statutory proceeding and not an action at law or a suit in equity,

15 (2005) 13 SCC 511
16 (2015) 14 SCC 519
17 (2016) 14 SCC 725
18 (2017) 2 SCC 487
19 AIR 1960 SC 770
17

the determination of such petition had to be in consonance with

Section 36(4) of the Act. Further, the sine qua non for declaring an

election void under Section 100(1)(d) of the Act was to plead and

also establish that improper acceptance of nomination had

materially affected the results of the election, which, in the present

case, appellant had failed to assert. No such pleading of material

fact had been made by appellant. Similarly, the election petition, as

filed, failed to disclose even the material particulars of facts to

establish a cause of action warranting a trial. Finally, appellant had

introduced fresh allegations into his petition, including suppression

of assets and fraud, by way of counter affidavits to the application

filed by respondent No.1. This clearly went against the established

law that new facts could not be introduced in an election petition

beyond a period of 45 days after declaration of the result of the

impugned election. For, the election petition had been filed in June

2014, whereas the counter affidavits were filed around a year later

i.e. June 2015 and, therefore, the averments contained therein

could not be taken into consideration.

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9. Mr. Ramachandran relied upon the following judgments:

Pothula Rama Rao (supra), Samant N. Balkrishna Anr. Vs.

George Fernandez Ors.20, L.R. Shivaramagowda Ors. Vs.

T.M. Chandrashekar (Dead) by LRs Ors. 21 , Ram Sukh Vs.

Dinesh Aggarwal 22 , Mangani Lal Mandal Vs. Bishnu Deo

Bhandari23, Shambhu Prasad Sharma Vs. Charandas Mahant

Ors.24, Hukumdev Narain Yadav Vs. Lalit Narain Mishra25, K.

Venkateswara Rao Anr. Vs. Bekkam Narasimha Reddi

Ors. 26 , Harmohinder Singh Pradhan Vs. Ranjeet Singh

Talwandi Ors. 27, Hari Shanker Jain Vs. Sonia Gandhi28

and Tek Chank Vs. Dile Ram29.

10. The central issue in these appeals is: whether the contents of

the subject election petition disclose cause of action warranting a

trial? The High Court by a composite judgment allowed the two

applications filed by respondent No.1 (returned candidate) praying

20 1969 (3) SCC 238
21 (1999) 1 SCC 666
22 (2009) 10 SCC 541
23 (2012) 3 SCC 314
24 (2012) 11 SCC 390
25 (1974) 2 SCC 133
26 (1969) 1 SCR 679; AIR 1969 SC 872
27 (2005) 5 SCC 46
28 (2001) 8 SCC 233
29 (2001) 3 SCC 290
19

for striking out paragraphs 2 9 to11 of the election petition, being

frivolous and vexatious and not containing any material facts and

not disclosing any cause of action; and the second application for

rejecting the election petition in limine for non-disclosure of cause of

action.

11. Ordinarily, an application for rejection of election petition in

limine, purportedly under Order VII Rule 11 for non-disclosure of

cause of action, ought to proceed at the threshold. For, it has to be

considered only on the basis of institutional defects in the election

petition in reference to the grounds specified in clauses (a) to (f) of

Rule 11. Indeed, non-disclosure of cause of action is covered by

clause (a) therein. Concededly, Order VII of the CPC generally deals

with the institution of a plaint. It delineates the requirements

regarding the particulars to be contained in the plaint, relief to be

specifically stated, for relief to be founded on separate grounds,

procedure on admitting plaint, and includes return of plaint. The

rejection of plaint follows the procedure on admitting plaint or even

before admitting the same, if the court on presentation of the plaint

is of the view that the same does not fulfill the statutory and
20

institutional requirements referred to in clauses (a) to (f) of Rule 11.

The power bestowed in the court in terms of Rule 11 may also be

exercised by the court on a formal application moved by the

defendant after being served with the summons to appear before

the Court. Be that as it may, the application under Order VII Rule

11 deserves consideration at the threshold.

12. On the other hand, the application for striking out pleadings

in terms of Order VI Rule 16 may be resorted to by the

defendant(s)/respondent(s) at any stage of the proceedings, as is

predicated in the said provision. The pleading(s) can be struck off

by the Court on grounds specified in clauses (a) to (c) of Rule 16.

13. Indeed, if the defendant moves two separate applications at

the same time, as in this case, it would be open to the court in a

given case to consider both the applications together or

independent of each other. If the court decides to hear the

application under Order VII Rule 11 in the first instance, the court

would be obliged to consider the plaint as filed as a whole. But if

the court decides to proceed with the application under Order VI

Rule 16 for striking out the pleadings before consideration of the
21

application under Order VII Rule 11 for rejection of the plaint, on

allowing the former application after striking out the relevant

pleadings then the court must consider the remainder pleadings of

the plaint in reference to the postulates of Order VII Rule 11, for

determining whether the plaint (after striking out pleadings)

deserves to be rejected in limine.

14. In the present case, the High Court has presumably adopted

the latter course. It first proceeded to examine the application for

striking out the pleadings in paragraphs 2 9 to 11 of the election

petition being frivolous and vexatious and also because the same

did not disclose any cause of action. And having accepted that

prayer, it proceeded to reject the election petition on the ground

that it did not disclose any cause of action. However, we find that

the High Court has muddled the analysis of the pleadings. It merely

focused on the pleadings in paragraphs 2 9 to 11 of the election

petition. It is one thing to strike out the stated pleadings being

frivolous and vexatious but then it does not follow that the rest of

the pleadings which would still remain, were not sufficient to

proceed with the trial or disclose any cause of action, whatsoever,
22

for rejecting the plaint as a whole in limine or to hold that it did not

warrant a trial. No such finding can be discerned from the

judgment under appeal. Be that as it may, the High Court

committed manifest error in striking out the pleadings in

paragraphs 2 9 to 11 of the election petition, being frivolous and

vexatious by considering the factual matrix noted therein as

untenable on merit. For striking out the pleadings or for that

matter, rejecting the plaint (election petition), the High Court is not

expected to decide the merits of the controversy referred to in the

election petition. We shall elaborate on this aspect a little later.

15. Reverting to the contents of the election petition in paragraph

1, it is asserted that the election petition was to challenge the

declaration of election of respondent No.1 to the 284-Punganur

Assembly Constituency of Andhra Pradesh. The election petitioner

has then given the other factual details relating to the election

process, which concluded with the declaration of results on 16th

May, 2014. In paragraph 2, the election petitioner (appellant herein)

has asserted that he was challenging the election on the ground of

improper acceptance of nomination of respondent No.1 by the
23

Returning Officer (respondent No.8). It is pointed out that the

Returning Officer entertained two sets of nominations of respondent

No.1, despite the written objections taken by the appellant. The

nature of five objections taken by the appellant before the Returning

Officer have been mentioned, including the violation of Rule 35 of

Civil Rules of Practice and also Rule 4A of Election Rule, 1961 and

non-signing of each and every page at the bottom of the nomination

form. The five objections taken before the Returning Officer have

been reproduced as follows:

―Objection No.1: The 1st Respondent who filed nominations
has failed to sign on bottom of each and every page of the
affidavits in Form-26 as contemplated under Civil Rules of
Practice and also deliberately violated the conduct of
Election Rules.

Objection No.2: The 1st respondent as a candidate failed to
fill up the affidavit at

a. The Column No.4 and Column No.2 under the head of total
Income shown in Income Tax returns.

b. The two sets of affidavits at Column No.6 have not properly
strike off which ever not applicable.

c. The Respondent No.1 in his two sets of affidavits kept blank
at Column No.8 (B) (III), where the words stand of
―Approximate Current market Price of …‖ at Part-B of (11)
abstract of the details given in (1) to (10) of Part-A. This is
mandatory as per the Conduct of Election Rules and also the
24

recent Apex Court judgment, circulated under Instruction
No.18 to the Returning Officer.

Objection No.3: The Respondent No.1 has not singed on each
and every page in the affidavit of Form-26 as contemplated
under Civil Rules of Practice and also contemplated under
Hand Book of Returning Officers-2014 under Chapter
5.20.1.

Objection No.4: The Respondent No.1 in his affidavit at
Column No.6 has not properly struck off ―which ever not
applicable.

Objection No.5: The proxy of the 1st respondent namely P.
Dwarakanath Reddy did not file his affidavit properly and
also not put his signatures and date on each and every page
of Form-26. Later he has withdrawn his nomination.‖

16. In paragraph 3 of the election petition, it has been asserted

that the appellant had raised objections before the Returning

Officer on 21st April, 2014. Further, respondent No.1 had given

authorization to one Shri V. Sreerami Reddy to answer the

objections, who then filed a reply to the objections taken by the

appellant by merely denying and asserting that the same were

purely technical grounds and, therefore, to reject the same. In

paragraph 4 of the election petition, reference is made to the

proceedings before the Returning Officer as to how the objections

were rejected by him. It is then asserted that the rejection was for

the reasons best known to the Returning Officer and contrary to the
25

mandatory Conduct of Election Rules and governing provisions and

instructions given to the Returning Officer by way of Compendium

Instructions, Volume-2 supplied to the Returning Officer(s) in light

of the Supreme Court judgment regarding the affidavits and blank

columns. It is then stated that the Returning Officer had also

circulated ―do‘s and dont‘s‖ along with the check-list to every

candidate contesting the election which clearly stated that the

candidates must strictly follow the procedure stipulated under the

Election Rules. The said instructions were supplied to the

candidates along with the set of nomination papers highlighting the

decision of this Court in Resurgence India (supra), regarding the

consequence of keeping the relevant columns in the nomination

Form-26, blank. In paragraph 5 of the election petition, it is stated

that the appellant had applied for a certificate of its objection,

authorization given to the third party and counter, respectively. In

paragraph 6, it is asserted that the appellant secured second

highest votes and respondent No.1 was declared elected candidate.

The tally of votes secured by the 8 candidates who contested the

election has been given in this paragraph. In paragraph 7, it is

pointed out that the Government of India issued a notification in its
26

extraordinary Gazette published on 1st August, 2012 and amended

Form-26 under Rule 4A of the Conduct of Election (Amendment)

Rules, 2012. In the footnote of the Gazette Notification, Note-1 to

Note-4 have been given which are relevant instructions for

accepting a valid Form-26 given to the Returning Officer. Those

notes have been reproduced as follows:

―Note: 1: Affidavit should be filed latest by 3.00 PM on the
last day of filing nomination.

Note: 2: Affidavit should be sworn before on Oath
Commissioner or Magistrate of the First Class or before a
Notary Public.

Note: 3: All column should be filled up and no column to be
left blank. If there is no information to furnish in respect of
any item, either ‗Nil‘ or ‗Not applicable‘ as the case may be,
should be mentioned.

Note: 4: The Affidavit should be either typed or written
legibly and neatly.‖

17. In paragraph 8 of the election petition, it is asserted that after

the aforementioned Government Notification, the Election

Commission of India issued proceedings bearing No.3/4/2012/SDR

dated 24.8.2012, Annexure-X directing all the State Election

Commissions, political parties and other organizations to follow the

single affidavit strictly in accordance with Form-26.

18. In paragraph 9 of the election petition, the appellant has

asserted that the objections taken by the appellant were not
27

considered by the Returning Officer, for which reason the decision

of the Returning Officer was contrary to the decision of this Court in

the case of Resurgence India (supra). Paragraph 27 of the said

judgment has been highlighted by the appellant. It is then asserted

that the contents of paragraph 27 were circulated along with the

nomination papers by the Returning Officer to every candidate.

Thus, respondent No.1 was aware about the same. Further,

respondent No.1 did not sign each page of Form-26 in both the sets

of nomination papers filed before the Returning Officer. The two

sets of nomination papers were attested by the same Notary on the

last page of both the sets of nomination papers filed by respondent

No.1, and so the omission of signature and blank columns are ―not

in the nature of technical mistakes at all‖. This assertion is followed

by the averments in paragraph 10 that the Returning Officer ought

to have rejected the nomination form of respondent No.1 at the

threshold in light of the decision of this Court. This is to assert that

it was improper nomination of respondent No.1, wrongly accepted

by the Returning Officer as contemplated under Section 100(1)(d)(i)

of the 1951 Act. It is then stated that the Returning Officer was

fully aware about the requirements as per the decision of this
28

Court, including the election material such as Handbook for

Returning Officer-2014, General Elections-2014, Compendium

Instructions, Volume-2 and Form-26 circulated by him. It is then

asserted that in spite of that the Returning Officer accepted the

nomination of respondent No.1, which enabled the respondent No.1

to contest the election and eventually get elected. The declaration of

election of respondent No.1 by the Returning Officer (respondent

No.8) was thus a clear abuse of the process of law in light of the

decision of this Court. It is also asserted that respondent No.1

misrepresented the Election Commission as well as the Returning

Officer (respondent No.8) by giving false information in a casual

manner, at paragraph 7A regarding the details of Immovable Assets

in the two sets of affidavits in Form-26, by showing the gross total

value of Rs.2,79,67,680/- instead of Rs.3,00,67,680/- and

deliberately did not count the column amount at 7(vii) of

Rs.21,00,000/-.

19. In paragraph 11 of the election petition, it is stated that the

nomination forms (Form-26) filed by the appellant and respondent

No.1 in two sets, may be treated as forming part of the election
29

petition along with the grounds of the election petition. Indeed, the

opening part of paragraph 11 is not happily worded but it certainly

conveys that the nomination form of the respective candidates be

treated as forming part of the election petition and by reference

thereto, the same would become an integral part of the election

petition. The grounds have been articulated in paragraph 11 which

reads thus:

―GROUNDS

a). Whether the 8th Respondent has ignored the
Constitutional Spirit of Representation of the People Act (Act
43 of 1950) and Act 43 of 1951 with allied Acts, Rules,
Orders, Model Code of Conduct for Guidance of Candidates
supplied by the Election Commission for the Election 284,
Punganur Assembly Constituency failing to conduct a fair
scrutiny in accordance with the law while conducting a fair
scrutiny of the nomination of the Respondent No.1 Form-26
in accordance with law?

b). Whether the 8th Respondent acceptance of the improper
nomination of Forum-26 application as contemplated despite
the fatal omission of blank column under Section 100 (1) (d)

(i) of Representation of the People Act, 1951 of the two sets of
affidavits of the Respondent No.1 kept in blank at Column
No.8 (B) (III), where the words stand of ―Approximate Current
market Price of …‖ at Part-B of (11) abstract of the details
given in (1) to (10) of Part-A?

c). Whether the Respondent No.1 election to 284, Punganur
Assembly Constituency can be set aside on the grounds that
the Respondent No.8/Returning Officer has accepted the
30

improper nomination Form vide Form-26 with omissions of
not signing on each and every page of the affidavit and not
keep intact of filling of the blanks contrary to the spirit of the
Apex Court judgment rendered in Resurgence India Vs.
Election Commission of India Anr., held in Writ Petition
(Civil) No.121 of 2008 dt. 13.09.2013?

d). Whether the Respondent No.1 Affidavit with blank
particulars will render the affidavit nugatory and hit by
Section 125 A(i) of Representation of Peoples Act, 1951
directly and has to set aside the election?‖

20. On the basis of these pleadings, the appellant has prayed for

the following reliefs in the election petition:

―17. Under these circumstances it is prayed that this Hon‘ble
Court may be pleased to:

a) declare the election of Peddireddigari Ramachandra Reddy
(Respondent No.1) to the 284 Punganur Assembly
Constituency to be null and void and set-aside the same:

b) Further declare that the Petitioner has been duly elected
as Member of State Legislative Assembly of the 284
Punganur Assembly Constituency under Section 84 of the
Representation of the People Act 1951.

c) Award the costs of the petition

d) And pass such other order or orders as it may deem fit
and proper in the circumstances of the case.‖

21. It is well settled that the election petition will have to be read

as a whole and cannot be dissected sentence-wise or paragraph-

wise to rule that the same does not disclose a cause of action.
31

Cause of action embodies a bundle of facts which may be necessary

for the plaintiffs to prove in order to get a relief from the Court. The

reliefs claimed by the appellant are founded on grounds inter alia

ascribable to Section 100(1)(d)(i). Further relief has been claimed to

declare the appellant as having been elected under Section 101 of

the 1951 Act. The cause of action for filing the election petition,

therefore, was perceptibly in reference to the material facts

depicting that the nomination form of respondent No.1 was

improperly accepted by the Returning Officer.

22. On reading the election petition as a whole, we have no

hesitation in taking a view that the High Court misdirected itself in

concluding that the election petition did not disclose any cause of

action with or without paragraphs 2 9 to 11 of the election

petition. Indeed, the pleadings of the election petition should be

precise and clear containing all the necessary details and

particulars as required by law. ‗Material facts‘ would mean all the

basic facts constituting the ingredients of the grounds stated in the

election petition in the context of relief to declare the election to be

void. It is well established that in an election petition, whether a
32

particular fact is material or not and as such required to be

pleaded, is a question which depends on the nature of the grounds

relied upon and the special circumstances of the case. Particulars,

on the other hand, are the details of the case set up by the party.

The distinction between ―material facts‖ and ―full particulars‖ has

been delineated in the case of Mohan Rawale v. Damodar

Tatyaba 30 . This judgment has been adverted to in the reported

decision relied by the parties. The Court noted thus:

―10. We may take up the last facet first. As Chitty, J.
observed, ―There is some difficulty in affixing a precise
meaning to‖ the expression ―discloses no reasonable cause of
action or defence‖. He said: ―In point of law … every cause of
action is a reasonable one.‖ (See Republic of Peru v. Peruvian
Guano Co.31) A reasonable cause of action is said to mean a
cause of action with some chances of success when only the
allegations in the pleading are considered. But so long as
the claim discloses some cause of action or raises some
questions fit to be decided by a Judge, the mere fact
that the case is weak and not likely to succeed is no
ground for striking it out. The implications of the
liability of the pleadings to be struck out on the ground
that it discloses no reasonable cause of action are quite
often more known than clearly understood. It does
introduce another special demurrer in a new shape. The
failure of the pleadings to disclose a reasonable cause of
action is distinct from the absence of full particulars.
The distinctions among the ideas of the ―grounds‖ in Section
81(1); of ―material facts‖ in Section 83(1)(a) and of ―full

30
(1994) 2 SCC 392
31
(1887) 36 Ch D 489
33

particulars‖ in Section 83(1)(b) are obvious. The provisions of
Section 83(1)(a) and (b) are in the familiar pattern of Order
VI, Rules 2 and 4 and Order 7, Rule 1(e) Code of Civil
Procedure. There is a distinction amongst the ‗grounds‘ in
Section 81(1); the ‗material facts‘ in Section 83(1)(a) and ―full
particulars‖ in Section 83(1)(b).

11. Referring to the importance of pleadings a learned author
says:

―Pleadings do not only define the issues between the parties
for the final decision of the court at the trial, they manifest
and exert their importance throughout the whole process of
the litigation. … They show on their face whether a
reasonable cause of action or defence is disclosed. They
provide a guide for the proper mode of trial and particularly
for the trial of preliminary issues of law or fact. They
demonstrate upon which party the burden of proof lies, and
who has the right to open the case. They act as a measure
for comparing the evidence of a party with the case which he
has pleaded. They determine the range of the admissible
evidence which the parties should be prepared to adduce at
the trial. They delimit the relief which the court can award.
…‖

[See: Jacob: ―The Present Importance of Pleadings‖ (1960)
Current Legal Problems, at pp. 175-76].

12. Further, the distinction between ―material facts‖ and ―full
particulars‖ is one of degree. The lines of distinction are not
sharp. ―Material facts‖ are those which a party relies upon
and which, if he does not prove, he fails at the time.

13. In Bruce v. Odhams Press Ltd. 32 Scott L.J. said: ―The
word ‗material‘ means necessary for the purpose of
formulating a complete cause of action; and if any one
‗material‘ statement is omitted, the statement of claim is
bad.‖ The purpose of ―material particulars‖ is in the context
of the need to give the opponent sufficient details of the

32
(1936) 1 KB 697 : (1936) 1 All ER 287
34

charge set up against him and to give him a reasonable
opportunity.

14. Halsbury refers to the function of particulars thus:

―The function of particulars is to carry into operation the
overriding principle that the litigation between the parties,
and particularly the trial, should be conducted fairly, openly
and without surprises, and incidentally to reduce costs. This
function has been variously stated, namely either to limit the
generality of the allegations in the pleadings, or to define the
issues which have to be tried and for which discovery is
required.‖

(See: Pleadings Vol. 36, para 38)

15. In Bullen and Leake and Jacob‘s ―Precedents of
Pleadings‖ 1975 Edn. at p. 112 it is stated:

―The function of particulars is to carry into operation the
overriding principle that the litigation between the parties,
and particularly the trial, should be conducted fairly, openly
and without surprises and incidentally to save costs. The
object of particulars is to ‗open up‘ the case of the opposite
party and to compel him to reveal as much as possible what
is going to be proved at the trial, whereas, as Cotton L.J. has
said, ‗the old system of pleading at common law was to
conceal as much as possible what was going to be proved at
the trial‘.‖

16. The distinction between ‗material facts‘ and ‗particulars‘
which together constitute the facts to be proved — or the
facta probanda — on the one hand and the evidence by
which those facts are to be proved — facta probantia — on
the other must be kept clearly distinguished. In Philipps v.
Philipps33, Brett, L.J. said:

―I will not say that it is easy to express in words what are the
facts which must be stated and what matters need not be
stated. … The distinction is taken in the very rule itself,
between the facts on which the party relies and the evidence

33
(1878) 4 QBD 127, 133
35

to prove those facts. Erle C.J. expressed it in this way. He
said that there were facts that might be called the allegata
probanda, the facts which ought to be proved, and they were
different from the evidence which was adduced to prove
those facts. And it was upon the expression of opinion of
Erle C.J. that Rule 4 [now Rule 7(1)] was drawn. The facts
which ought to be stated are the material facts on which the
party pleading relies.‖

17. Lord Denman, C.J. in Willians v. Wilcox34 said:

―It is an elementary rule in pleading that, when a state of
facts is relied it is enough to allege it simply, without setting
out the subordinate facts which are the means of proving it,
or the evidence sustaining the allegations.‖

18. An election petition can be rejected under Order VII
Rule 11(a) CPC if it does not disclose a cause of action.
Pleadings could also be struck out under Order VI Rule
16, inter alia, if they are scandalous, frivolous or
vexatious. The latter two expressions meant cases where
the pleadings are obviously frivolous and vexatious or
obviously unsustainable.‖

(emphasis supplied)

23. In the case of Harkirat Singh (supra), this Court once again

reiterated thus:

―46. From the above provisions, it is clear that an election
petition must contain a concise statement of ―material facts‖
on which the petitioner relies. It should also contain ―full
particulars‖ of any corrupt practice that the petitioner
alleges including a full statement of names of the parties
alleged to have committed such corrupt practice and the
date and place of commission of such practice. Such election
petition shall be signed by the petitioner and verified in the
manner laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

34
(1838) 8 Ad EI 331
36

(hereinafter referred to as ―the Code‖) for the verification of
pleadings. It should be accompanied by an affidavit in the
prescribed form in support of allegation of such practice and
particulars thereof.

47. All material facts, therefore, in accordance with the
provisions of the Act, have to be set out in the election
petition. If the material facts are not stated in a petition, it is
liable to be dismissed on that ground as the case would be
covered by clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 83 of the
Act read with clause (a) of Rule 11 of Order 7 of the Code.

48. The expression “material facts” has neither been
defined in the Act nor in the Code. According to the
dictionary meaning, “material” means “fundamental”,
“vital”, “basic”, “cardinal”, “central”, “crucial”,
“decisive”, “essential”, “pivotal”, “indispensable”,
“elementary” or “primary”. Burton’s Legal Thesaurus
(3rd Edn.), p. 349.] The phrase “material facts”,
therefore, may be said to be those facts upon which a
party relies for its claim or defence. In other words,
“material facts” are facts upon which the plaintiff’s
cause of action or the defendant’s defence depends.

What particulars could be said to be “material facts”
would depend upon the facts of each case and no rule of
universal application can be laid down. It is, however,
absolutely essential that all basic and primary facts
which must be proved at the trial by the party to
establish the existence of a cause of action or defence
are material facts and must be stated in the pleading by
the party.‖

(emphasis supplied)

Again in paragraphs 51 52, this Court observed thus:

“51. A distinction between “material facts” and
“particulars”, however, must not be overlooked.
“Material facts” are primary or basic facts which must be
37

pleaded by the plaintiff or by the defendant in support of
the case set up by him either to prove his cause of
action or defence. “Particulars”, on the other hand, are
details in support of material facts pleaded by the party.
They amplify, refine and embellish material facts by
giving distinctive touch to the basic contours of a
picture already drawn so as to make it full, more clear
and more informative. “Particulars” thus ensure conduct
of fair trial and would not take the opposite party by
surprise.

52. All ―material facts‖ must be pleaded by the party in
support of the case set up by him. Since the object and
purpose is to enable the opposite party to know the case he
has to meet with, in the absence of pleading, a party cannot
be allowed to lead evidence. Failure to state even a single
material fact, hence, will entail dismissal of the suit or
petition. Particulars, on the other hand, are the details of the
case which is in the nature of evidence a party would be
leading at the time of trial.‖

And again in paragraph 72, the Court noted thus:

―72. The Court, however, drew the distinction between ―material facts‖
and ―particulars‖. According to the Court, “material facts” are facts,
if established would give the petitioner the relief prayed for. The
test is whether the Court could have given a direct verdict in favour
of the election petitioner in case the returned candidate had not
appeared to oppose the election petition on the basis of the facts
pleaded in the petition.‖

(emphasis supplied)

24. In Ashraf Kokkur (supra), this Court adverted to the

exposition in M. Kamalam Vs. V.A. Syed Mohammed, 35 and G.M.

(1978) 2 SCC 659
35
38

Siddeshwar Vs. Prasanna Kumar36 and in paragraph 21 noted

that the pleadings must be taken as a whole to ascertain whether

the same constitute the material facts involving triable issues. In

paragraph 22, the Court observed as follows:

―22. After all, the inquiry under Order 7 Rule 11(a) CPC is only as to
whether the facts as pleaded disclose a cause of action and not complete
cause of action. The limited inquiry is only to see whether the
petition should be thrown out at the threshold. In an election
petition, the requirement under Section 83 of the RP Act is to provide a
precise and concise statement of material facts. The expression
“material facts” plainly means facts pertaining to the subject-matter
and which are relied on by the election petitioner. If the party does
not prove those facts, he fails at the trial.‖
(emphasis supplied)

25. The Court then went on to analyse the decision of a three-

Judge Bench in the case of V.S. Achuthanandan Vs. P.J.

Francis37, wherein it has been observed that an election petition

was not liable to be dismissed in limine merely because full

particulars of corrupt practice alleged were not set out. Further,

material facts are such primary facts which must be proved at the

trial by a party to establish existence of a cause of action. It has

also observed that so long as the claim discloses some cause of

action or raises some questions fit to be decided by a Judge, the

36
(2013) 4 SCC 776
37
(1999) 3 SCC 737
39

mere fact that the case is weak and not likely to succeed is no

ground for striking it out. Further, the implications of the liability of

the pleadings to be struck out on the ground that it discloses no

reasonable cause of action are generally more known than clearly

understood and that the failure of the pleadings to disclose a

reasonable cause of action is distinct from the absence of full

particulars. This decision also adverts to the case of Ponnala

Lakshmaiah Vs. Kommuri Pratap Reddy,38 wherein the Court

observed that the Courts need to be cautious in dealing with

request for dismissal of the petition at the threshold and exercise

their power of dismissal only in cases where on a plain reading of

the petition no cause of action is disclosed.

26. The counsel for the contesting respondent has relied on the

decisions in Pendyala Venkata Krishna Rao Vs. Pothula Rama

Rao (supra), particularly paragraphs 8-10, 11 and 16 of the

reported decision. In that case, on facts, the Court found that

necessary material facts in relation to the ground of improper

acceptance of nomination form were not pleaded by the election

38
(2012) 7 SCC 788
40

petitioner. In the present case, we have held that there is

discernible pleading as to what objections were taken before the

Returning Officer and as to why he was in error in not rejecting the

nomination of respondent No.1.

27. The counsel for the contesting respondent also relied on the

decision in Samant N. Balkrishna Vs. George Fernandez39. No

doubt this decision predicates that election petition is a statutory

proceedings and not an action at law or suit in equity. There can be

no debate with regard to this proposition. At the same time, we

cannot be oblivious about the scope of the enquiry permissible at

this stage by the election court/tribunal while considering the

application under Order VII Rule 11(a) of C.P.C.

28. In Kuldeep Singh Pathania (supra), the decision of the High

Court which is similar to one under consideration (namely the

impugned judgment) had accepted the explanation offered by the

respondents and meticulously dealt with it to conclude that the

petition did not disclose any cause of action since it lacked material

facts. The High Court passed that order purportedly in exercise of

39
(1969) 3 SCC 238
41

power under Order XIV Rule 2. This Court pointed out the

distinction between an order under Order VII Rule 11 to reject the

election petition in limine for non disclosure of cause of action and

an order under Order XIV Rule 2 for disposal of the petition on a

preliminary issue. In that case, the order passed by the High Court

was relatable only to Order VII Rule 11. This Court adverted to the

decisions in Mayar (H.K.) Ltd. and Ors. Vs. Owners and Parties

Vessel M.V. Fortune Express and Ors. 40 and Virendra Nath

Gautam Vs. Satpal Singh and Ors.,41 and explicated that under

Order VII Rule 11(a), only the pleadings of the plaintiff-petitioner

can be looked at as a threshold issue. Whereas, entire pleadings of

both sides can be looked into for considering the preliminary issue

under Order XIV Rule 2. Neither the written statement nor the

averments or case pleaded by the opposite party can be taken into

account for answering the threshold issue for rejection of election

petition in terms of Order VII Rule 11 (a) of the Act.

29. Whether the material facts as asserted by the appellant can

stand the test of trial and whether the appellant would be able to

40
(2006) 3 SCC 100
41
(2007) 3 SCC 617
42

bring home the grounds for declaring the election of respondent

No.1 to be void, is not a matter to be debated at this stage. Suffice

it to observe that the averments in the concerned paragraphs of the

election petition, by no standard can be said to be frivolous and

vexatious as such. The High Court committed manifest error in

entering into the tenability of the facts and grounds urged in

support thereof by the appellant on merit, as is evident from the

cogitation in paragraphs 16 to 22 of the impugned judgment.

30. It is not necessary to multiply authorities on this point. The

High Court has opined that the contents of paragraphs 2 9 to 11

of the election petition did not furnish ―any‖ material facts but were

only in the nature of fulminating and lampooning order of the

Returning Officer for having unduly rejected the objections taken by

the appellant whilst accepting the nomination form submitted by

respondent No.1. The High Court broadly referred to the contents of

the concerned paragraphs of the election petition, but the analysis

of the High Court in that behalf is not correct. We have elaborately

adverted to the contents of paragraphs 2 9 to 11 of the election

petition. We find force in the argument of the appellant that the
43

said paragraphs plainly disclose the facts, which are material facts

for adjudicating the grounds for declaring the election of respondent

No.1 as being void, because of improper acceptance of his

nomination form by the Returning Officer (respondent No.8): To wit;

(i) The Returning Officer has improperly accepted the

nomination paper of the respondent No.1 despite the

categorical objections raised, being contrary to Rule 35 of

Civil Rules of Practice, Rule 4A of the Conduct of Election

Rules, 1961 and also contrary to the judgment of this Court

in Resurgence India (supra).

(ii) Respondent No.1 failed to sign each and every page of the

affidavit (Form No.26), which is in violation of Civil Rules of

Practice, Conduct of the Election Rules and Hand Book of

Returning Officer-2014 under Chapter 5.20.1.

(iii) Respondent No.1 failed to fill up the Column No.4 and

Column No.2 under the head of Total Income shown in

Income Tax Returns, of the said affidavit (Form No.26).

(iv) The Column No.6 of said two sets of affidavit has not been

properly struck off, whichever is not applicable.
44

(v) Column No.8(B)(III), where the words stand for

―Approximate Current Market Price of…‖ at Part-B of 11

abstracts of the details given in (1) to (10) of Part A of the

said affidavits, which is mandatory as per Election Rules,

judgments of this Court and Circular and Instructions

issued by the Returning Officer.

(vi) Omission and blank Columns left in the said affidavits are

not at all a technical mistake. The respondent No.1 was

very much aware of the said rules and the law.

(vii) The Returning Officer did not follow the stated Rules and

law, and has favoured the respondent No.1 by accepting the

improper nomination/affidavit filed by him, enabling him to

contest the election, which is abuse of the processes of law

in light of the judgment of this Court (Resurgence India).

(viii) The Returning Officer (R-8) ought to have rejected the

improper nomination of the respondent no.1 on 21.04.2014

itself at the threshold as contemplated under Section

100(1)(d)(i) of the Representation of People Act.

(ix) The respondent No.1 misrepresented the Election

Commission as well as the Returning Officer (R-8) in a
45

casual manner by giving false information at Para 7A of

details of Immovable Assets in his two set of affidavits

under Form-26 by showing the gross total value of

Rs.2,79,67,680 instead of 3,00,67,680 and deliberately did

not count the Column amount at 7(vii) of Rs.21,00,000/-.

(x) Form No.26 of two sets of nomination paper of Respondent

No.1 be read as Annexure-XIII for prosecution of the

election petition along with the grounds mentioned in the

petition. In the grounds at para 11 of the election petition,

the appellant has re-agitated these contentions.

31. Indubitably, the requirement of putting one‘s signature on

each and every page on the affidavit has been restated in the case of

Resurgence India (supra). It is held that when a candidate files an

affidavit with blank particulars it renders the affidavit itself

nugatory. Inasmuch as, the purpose of filing affidavit (form No.26)

along with nomination papers is to effectuate the fundamental right

of the citizens under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India,

who are entitled to have the necessary information of the candidate

at the time of his filing of the nomination papers in order to make a
46

choice of their voting. In Paragraphs 25 and 26 of this judgment,

the Court clarified that the observations made in paragraph 73 of

the judgment in People’s Union for Civil Liberties Vs. Union of

India,42 will not come in the way of the Returning Officer to reject

the nomination paper if the said affidavit is filed with blank

columns. It further observed that the candidate must take the

minimum effort to explicitly remark as ―NIL‖ or ―Not Applicable‖ or

―Not Known‖ in the columns and not to leave the particulars blank,

if he desires that his nomination paper be accepted by the

Returning Officer during the scrutiny of nomination in exercise of

powers under Section 36 (6) of the 1951 Act being invalid

nomination found and hit by Section 125-A (i) of the 1951 Act. In

paragraph 27 of the judgment, the Court observed thus:

―27. If we accept the contention raised by the Union of India viz. the
candidate who has filed an affidavit with false information as well as the
candidate who has filed an affidavit with particulars left blank should be
treated on a par, it will result in breach of fundamental right guaranteed
under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution viz. ―right to know‖, which is
inclusive of freedom of speech and expression as interpreted in Assn. for
Democratic Reforms.‖

42 (2003) 4 SCC 399
47

The conclusions and directions articulated in paragraph 29 of the

decision, read thus:

“29. What emerges from the above discussion can be
summarized in the form of the following directions:

29.1. The voter has the elementary right to know full particulars of
a candidate who is to represent him in Parliament/Assemblies and
such right to get information is universally recognized. Thus, it is
held that right to know about the candidate is a natural right
flowing from the concept of democracy and is an integral part of
Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

29.2. The ultimate purpose of filing of affidavit along with the
nomination paper is to effectuate the fundamental right of the
citizens under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The
citizens are supposed to have the necessary information at the
time of filing of nomination paper and for that purpose, the
Returning Officer can very well compel a candidate to furnish the
relevant information.

29.3. Filing of affidavit with blank particulars will render the
affidavit nugatory.

29.4. It is the duty of the Returning Officer to check whether
the information required is fully furnished at the time of filing
of affidavit with the nomination paper since such information
is very vital for giving effect to the “right to know” of the
citizens. If a candidate fails to fill the blanks even after the
reminder by the Returning Officer, the nomination paper is fit
to be rejected. We do comprehend that the power of the Returning
Officer to reject the nomination paper must be exercised very
sparingly but the bar should not be laid so high that the justice
itself is prejudiced.

29.5. We clarify to the extent that para 73 of People’s Union
for Civil Liberties case will not come in the way of the
Returning Officer to reject the nomination paper when the
affidavit is filed with blank particulars.

29.6. The candidate must take the minimum effort to
explicitly remark as “NIL” or “Not Applicable” or “Not known”
in the columns and not to leave the particulars blank.

48

29.7. Filing of affidavit with blanks will be directly hit by
Section 125-A(i) of the RP Act. However, as the nomination
paper itself is rejected by the Returning Officer, we find no
reason why the candidate must be again penalized for the
same act by prosecuting him/her.‖

(emphasis supplied)

32. The purport of assertions made in the election petition was to

highlight this aspect in support of the ground for declaring the

election of respondent No.1 as being void on account of improper

acceptance of his nomination form by the Returning Officer

(respondent No.8).

33. To put it differently, the approach of the High Court in

considering the two applications is, in our opinion, manifestly

erroneous, if not perverse. For, it has ventured into the arena of

analysis of the matter on merit. That is a prohibited area at this

stage. Since the conclusion reached by the High Court that the

pleadings in paragraphs 2 and 9 to 11 of the election petition are

frivolous and vexatious is untenable, it would necessarily follow

that the election petition, as filed, will have to be examined as a

whole without subtracting any portion therefrom. If so read, it is not

possible to take a view that the same does not disclose any cause of
49

action at all. On this finding, the application preferred by

respondent no.1 for rejection of election petition in limine under

Order VII Rule 11, cannot be countenanced and must also fail.

34. The only other plea of respondent No.1 that needs examination

is about the absence of averment in the election petition that

because of improper acceptance of nomination form of respondent

No.1, it has materially affected the election results of respondent

No.1. Even this contention should not detain us in light of the

exposition in the recent decision of this Court in M. Prithviraj

(supra). For, the case of Durai Muthuswami Vs. N. Nachiappan

and Ors.,43 noticed in this judgment, it has been observed that in

the case of election to a single member constituency, if there are

more than 2 candidates and the nomination of one of the defeated

candidates had been improperly accepted, a question might arise as

to whether the result of the election of the returned candidate had

been materially affected by such improper reception. That would

not be so in the case of challenge to the election of the ―returned

candidate” himself on the ground of improper acceptance of his

43
(1973) 2 SCC 45
50

nomination. In paragraph 23 of the judgment in M. Prithviraj

(supra), after analysing the exposition in Durai Muthuswami

(supra), the Court observed thus:

―23. It is clear from the above judgment in Durai
Muthuswami that there is a difference between the improper
acceptance of a nomination of a returned candidate and the
improper acceptance of nomination of any other candidate.
There is also a difference between cases where there are only
two candidates in the fray and a situation where there are
more than two candidates contesting the election. If the
nomination of a candidate other than the returned candidate
is found to have been improperly accepted, it is essential
that the election petitioner has to plead and prove that the
votes polled in favour of such candidate would have been
polled in his favour. On the other hand, if the improper
acceptance of nomination is of the returned candidate,
there is no necessity of proof that the election has been
materially affected as the returned candidate would not
have been able to contest the election if his nomination
was not accepted. It is not necessary for the respondent to
prove that result of the election insofar as it concerns the
returned candidate has been materially affected by the
improper acceptance of his nomination as there were only
two candidates contesting the election and if the appellant‘s
nomination is declared to have been improperly accepted, his
election would have to be set aside without any further
enquiry and the only candidate left in the fray is entitled to
be declared elected.‖

(emphasis supplied)

35. The Court then noted that the decision in Durai Muthuswami

(supra), has been followed in Jagjit Singh Vs. Dharam Pal Singh
51

and Ors. 44 . This Court then adverted to its earlier decision in

Vashist Narayan Sharma Vs. Dev Chandra Ors.45, paragraph

9 thereof. That has been extracted in paragraph 25 of the judgment

in M. Prithviraj (supra).

36. In Duni Chand (supra), this Court was called upon to

consider whether the nomination paper submitted by the appellant

therein was improperly accepted by the Returning Officer. It

observed that if the Returning Officer had rejected the nomination

paper of the appellant therein at the time of scrutiny, the order of

rejection would have been valid. As a result, the appellant could

not have participated in the election process and there would have

been no occasion for him to be elected. It would therefore, follow

that improper acceptance of his nomination by the Returning

Officer has inevitably materially affected his result of the election.

37. The respondent No.1 on the other hand, has relied on the

decision in Mangani Lal Mandal (supra). In this case, the election

was challenged by invoking the ground under Section 100(1)(d)(iv)

and in that context the Court observed that it was essential for the

44
(1995) Supple (1) SCC 422
45
(1955) 1 SCR 509 AIR 1954 SC 513
52

election petitioner to plead material facts that the result of the

election in so far as it concerned the returned candidate has been

materially affected, by such observance or non-observance. In the

present case, the election is challenged by invoking ground of

improper acceptance of nomination of the respondent No.1 –

returned candidate under Section 100(1)(d)(i). Even the other case

i.e. Shambhu Prasad (supra), relied by respondent No.1 will be of

no avail. In that case, 22 candidates had filed their nomination

papers for election from the concerned constituency, out of which

only 17 candidates were left in the fray besides the election

petitioner, after withdrawal of nomination papers of 4 of such

candidates. The margin of victory between respondent No.1 and

Karuna Shukla, who emerged as his nearest rival, was more than

20,000 votes. The appellant in that case had polled 21,000 votes.

He filed an election petition before the High Court seeking a

declaration about his having been elected. Notably, the ground for

declaring the election to be void was not because of improper

acceptance of nomination form of the returned candidate per se but

because of improper acceptance of nomination papers of other

defeated candidates.

53

38. Our attention has also been invited by the learned counsel to

L.R. Shivaramagowda (supra), with particular emphasis on

paragraph 10 and 11, wherein the Court observed that in order to

declare an election to be void under Section 100(1)(d)(iv) it is

absolutely necessary for the election petitioner to plead that the

result of the election insofar as it concerns the returned candidate

has been materially affected. In the present case, the election

petition is in reference to the ground of improper acceptance of

nomination form of respondent No.1 – the returned candidate under

Section 100(1)(d)(i). Thus, if that plea is accepted and the election

of respondent No.1 is declared to be void, it would necessarily follow

that the election result of the returned candidate has been

materially affected.

39. The respondents had then contended that the election

petitioner cannot be permitted to bring or introduce a new ground

or cause of action beyond limitation period of 45 days of declaration

of the result of the election. We do not wish to dwell upon this

issue. In our opinion, this contention will have to be addressed by

the High Court in the first instance. The High Court, without
54

recording any reason has disposed of the applications filed by the

election petitioner (appellant) as the election petition itself was

dismissed in limine. Since the election petition will stand restored

before the High Court, to subserve the ends of justice, the

applications preferred by the election petitioner (appellant) will also

stand restored for being heard by the High Court on its own merit

and to decide it in accordance with law. As a result, it is not

necessary for us to dilate on the decision relied by the respondents

in the case of Harmohinder Singh (supra). We leave this

contention open to be decided by the High Court at the appropriate

stage.

40. Taking any view of the matter, therefore, the impugned

judgment of the High Court in allowing both the applications filed

by respondent no.1 cannot stand the test of judicial scrutiny. For,

we do not find any merit in the plea of the respondent No.1 that

paragraphs 2 9 to 11 of the election petition are frivolous and

vexatious, which contention erroneously commended to the High

Court. On the other hand, we are of the considered opinion that the

subject election petition plainly discloses cause of action for filing of
55

the election petition to declare the election of respondent No.1 to be

void on the ground of improper acceptance of his nomination.

41. We make it clear that we may not be understood to have

expressed any opinion on the merits of the other issues to be

decided by the High Court. In other words, our analysis is limited to

the threshold matter considered in this judgment about the striking

off of the pleadings and rejection of the election petition in limine.

42. In light of the above, we hold that E.A. No.329 of 2015 and EA

No.330 of 2015, both filed by respondent No.1 in the subject

election petition, deserve to be rejected. Further, the Election

Petition No.8 of 2014 shall stand restored to the file of the High

Court to its original number for being proceeded further in

accordance with law. Similarly, the applications filed by the

appellant shall stand restored (except the application for early

hearing), to their original numbers to be decided by the High Court

in accordance with law.

43. As regards the application for early hearing of the election

petition filed by the appellant before the High Court, the same be

treated as disposed of in terms of this order. The imperativeness of
56

expeditious disposal of the election petition is underscored in

Section 86(7) of the 1951 Act. As per the said provision, the trial of

the election petition is required to be disposed of preferably within

six months from the date of its presentation before the High Court.

Besides, this Court in the case of Mohd. Akbar (supra) has

highlighted the necessity of discharging the pious hope expressed

by the Parliament. Therefore, we may only request the High Court

to expeditiously dispose of the election petition preferably within

three months from the production of a copy of this judgment by

either party before it.

44. Accordingly, these appeals are allowed in the above terms with

no order as to costs.

.………………………….CJI.

(Dipak Misra)

…..……………………..….J.

(A.M. Khanwilkar)

….……………………..….J.

New Delhi; (Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud)
March 21, 2018.

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