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MANIMEKALAI versus M.VANAJA

High Court of Madras

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Manimekalai v. M.Vanaja - CIVIL REVSION PETITION (NPD) No. 382 OF 2002 [2002] RD-TN 495 (19 July 2002)



IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS



DATED: 19/07/2002

CORAM

THE HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE E.PADMANABHAN

CIVIL REVSION PETITION (NPD) No. 382 OF 2002

and

C.M.P.No.4029 of 2002

Manimekalai ..Petitioner Vs.

1. M.Vanaja

2. The Chief Election Commissioner,

Election Commission,

Chennai.

3. The District Collector and District

Election Officer, Nagapattinam.

4. The Returning Officer,

Panchayat Union Ward Member

Election and Assistant Commissioner,

Land Reforms, Mayiladuthurai. ..Respondents For petitioner :: Mr.S.Doraisamy

For respondents :: Mr.B.Pugazhendi for R.1

Mr.V.Subbarayan Spl.G.P

for RR2 to 4

Revision Petition preferred under Article 227 of The Constitution of India against the order passed by the Additional District Court, Nagapattinam District in Election O.P.No.5 of 2001 dated 5.3.2002. :O R D E R



This Revision has been preferred under Article 227 of The Constitution of India challenging the order passed by the Additional District Court, and Election Tribunal, Nagapattinam in Election O.P.No.5 of 2 001. By the said order, the Election Tribunal set aside the election of the petitioner herein and declared the first respondent herein as having been duly elected. Being aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner herein who is the 4th respondent in the Election O.P., has preferred this revision petition.

2. Mr. S.Doraisamy, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner made his submissions.

3. At the outset, this court holds that there are absolutely no merits in this revision petition in the light of the finding that the 4 th respondent has secured more number of votes as against the revision petitioner and consequently, the declaration that the present revision petitioner has been declared elected has been rightly set aside. There is no escape from the findings recorded by the Learned Additional District Judge and Mr.Doraisamy, learned counsel for the revision petitioner is unable to point out any illegality or error of jurisdiction or material misdirection or misreading of the evidence warranting interference under Article 227.

4. As seen from the counter affidavit, even according to the Returning Officer, the revision petitioner has been wrongly declared elected as a bundle of ballots polled in favour of the first respondent had been mixed with the ballots of the revision petitioner and that when it was noticed after the declaration of results, sensing the inconvenience, the revision petitioner flew away from the scene. The Returning Officer admits the blunder committed in the counting.

5. The Election Tribunal after recounting and on the basis of evidence of R.W.1, recorded a finding that only 120 votes had been polled in favour of the revision petitioner as against 222 votes polled in favour of the first respondent herein in respect of Polling Station 78AV, Sembathaniruppu. The Election Tribunal after recounting of the votes recorded a finding that 1317 votes were polled in favour of the first respondent while in favour of the revision petitioner only 1 135 votes had been polled. This being a clear finding of fact, which cannot be assailed on any ground whatsoever, this court holds that no case has been made out for interference.

6. This court however, while noticing the illegality committed by the counting staff, ordered notice to the concerned counting staff to appear and explain their conduct as this court was anxious that a democratic process of election and in particular, every member of the counting staff should have conducted himself beyond doubt, lest the society will lose faith in the democratic process of election. As it was too puerile to accept the explanation, this court ordered notice to all the counting staff connected with the concerned table and accordingly they have appeared on different dates. Mr.S.Chandrasekaran, Returning Officer, Panchayat Union Ward Member Election, Sirkali, Mr. Sundararajan, Assistant Returning Officer of the Panchayat Union Ward, Sirkali Panchayat Union, Mr.C.Sachithanandam, Counting Supervisor and Mr.G.Subramaniam and Mr.R.Thiruvengadam, Counting staff filed their affidavits before this court.

7. It is also brought to the notice of the court that the District Collector has already initiated disciplinary proceedings against the concerned election counting staff members and that the disciplinary proceedings are pending against the concerned staff memebrs.

8. As seen from the affidavits, for Panchayat Union Ward No.11, votes were counted under the supervision of Assistant Returning Officer Mr.Sundararajan, Mr.C.Sachithanandam, Counting Supervisor and Mr.G. Subramanian, Mr.R.Thiruvengadam, counting staff. In the said 11th ward, seven polling booths were located.

9. In para 9 of the affidavit filed by the Returning Officer, it is stated that Vanaja the first respondent herein has secured 1215 votes and 1237 votes were secured by the revision petitioner Manimekalai, as per the statement prepared by the counting supervisor. Accordingly, Form No.23 was prepared by the Returning Officer and the said Manimekalai was declared elected as Panchayat Union Councilor, representing Ward No.11 of Sirkali Panchayat Union. The result was declared and Certificate of declaration for having been elected had been issued in favour of the revision petitioner Manimekalai in Form No.25.

10. After declaration, the first respondent Vanaja orally complained stating that 1317 votes have been polled in her favour and that being so, how the revision petitioner could be declared elected? Thereafter, it is stated that the Returning Officer made an enquiry and prima facie came to the conclusion that a mistake has crept in recording the votes in favour of a candidates. At that stage, the Assistant Returning Officer was directed to check the veracity of the allegation made by the first respondent Vanaja. On verification, the Assistant Returning Officer noticed that the votes secured by the first respondent Vanaja was wrongly entered in favour of Manimekalai. Thereafter it was checked and found that 1317 votes had been polled in favour of Vanaja and 1135 votes had been polled in favour of Manimekalai, the revision petitioner herein. The Returning Officer has admitted the above facts. However, what is sought to be suggested by all the counting staff does not deserve consideration as it will not stand a moments scrutiny by. Having entered the votes polled in favour of either parties rightly on the notice board, it is not known as to how ballots polled in favour of Vanaja could have been added with the votes cast in favour of Manimekalai. For this subsequent bungling, there could be no explanation. It cannot be taken as an ordinary mistake, nor there could be a valid explanation for such a blunder. It is a supine indifference or a deliberate omission on the part of the counting staff, which has resulted in an unsuccessful candidate being declared elected.

11. It is true that the Returning Officer was in charge of the whole election process. But the Assistant Returning Officer, the Supervisor, having correctly counted and announced the votes polled by writing on black board the Counting staff could not have included the votes polled in favour of Vanaja as if they have been polled in favour of Manimekalai and declare her elected. The Returning Officer as well as the Assistant Returning Officer have admitted that the votes polled in favour of the respective candidates had been rightly displayed by the Supervisor on the Notice Board and it is rather strange and extraordinary to have declared the petitioner herein as elected by adding the votes polled in favour of Vanaja with the votes polled in favour of Manimekalai.

12. In Paragraph 6 of the affidavit of Mr.Sundararajan, Assistant Returning Officer, paragraph 4 of the affidavit of Mr.R.Thiruvengadam and paragraphs 2 and 3 of Mr.C.Sachithanandam and para 4 of the affidavit of Mr.G.Subramanian the total votes polled in favour of each candidate is admitted and at the time counting of ballots polled in favour of the two candidates, were rightly displayed on the black board and that being so, it is rather extraordinary to plead that a bundle of ballots had been wrongly added with the votes polled in favour of Manimekalai. Such an explanation is too puerile to be accepted. Election Officers as well as the persons in charge of counting should be very careful and if such kind of blunders are committed, be it deliberate or inadvertence or a casual omission, it results in declaration of an unsuccessful candidate being declared as elected, while a candidate in whose favour more votes had been polled declared defeated. That apart, the candidate so declared elected rushes and assumes office. This is against all norms of democratic process of election and such failures, be it deliberate or willful or supine inadvertence cannot be excused at all. In a democratic system, if the polling officials or counting officials fail to exercise due care and diligence or if they deliberately add votes polled in favour of one candidate in favour of another candidate, despite their exhibiting the actual ballots polled on the black board and declaring a wrong candidate as elected, they have done a total disservice to the democracy. Such omission cannot be excused. By this, the election process is being rendered a mockery. By the time the declaration is set aside, considerable period lapses and a person who is not elected to hold the office assumes office and performs the function as if he or she has been duly elected.

13. In the present case all the counting staff connected with the counting in respect of Ward No.11 cannot be excused at all. With this observation, this revision petition is disposed of and the District Collector, Nagapattinam District who has already initiated disciplinary proceedings shall proceed further, frame charges and pas such order or impose such punishment as he deems fit against the erring officials In respect of the disciplinary proceedings, this court will not be justified in making any observation or direction except adding that the District Collector who has already initiated disciplinary proceedings shall proceed according to law.

14. This is a fit case where the election Tribunal should have ordered payment of Rs.5,000/= as cost as against each of the counting staff, which course alone would put an end to such acts of commission or omissions on their part. However, taking into consideration of the fair admission by the counting staff before this court, this court is not awarding cost against them, but warns that the counting staff should be careful in future. The success of democratic process of election depends on the election staff and it is their responsibility as well as duty to act independently and with care and caution.

15. With the above direction, this Civil Revision Petition is dismissed. Consequently, connected CMP is also dismissed. No costs. Index:yes/no 19-07-2002 Website: yes/no

gkv

To

The Additional District Court,

Nagapattinam.

E.PADMANABHAN.J.,

Order in

CRP.(NPD)No:382 of 2002




Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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