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Satish Kumar v. Addl. District Judge & Another - WRIT - C No. 47550 of 2003  RD-AH 495 (10 August 2004)
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No.47550 of 2003
Satish Kumar v. Additional District Judge , Budaun
Hon'ble R.K.Agrawal, J.
By means of the present writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner, Satish Kumar, seeks a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari calling for the record of the case and quashing the order dated 16th October 2003 passed by the Additional District Judge, Budaun, respondent no.1, filed as Annexure 1 to the writ petition, and to dismiss the Election Petition No.23 of 2001 and other consequential reliefs.
Briefly stated, the facts giving rise to the present writ petition are as follows:-
In the district of Budaun, there is a Kshettra Panchayat, Junawai in the Tehsil Gunnaur, wherein there are 50 Nirvachan Kshettra from which one member each is to be elected. The members thereafter elect a Pramukh. Kashipur is one of the Nirvachan Kshettra. Ram Babu Singh, respondent no.2, has been elected as member of the Kshettra Panchayat, Kashipur. He filed his nomination paper for the post of Pramukh. The petitioner also contested the election for the post of Pramukh. In the elections held on 8th March 2001, the petitioner got 25 votes whereas the respondent no.2 got 14 votes. 11 votes were cancelled. The petitioner was declared elected.
The respondent no.2 feeling aggrieved by the election of the petitioner as Pramukh of the Kshettra Panchayat, challenged his election by filing an election petition.
In paragraph 12 of the election petition, he had given about 12 grounds on which the election of the petitioner was liable to be declared void. The petitioner initially filed an application purporting to be under Order VII Rule 11(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure for rejecting the plaint as it did not disclose any cause of action. The said application was dismissed by the Election Tribunal vide order dated 15th May 2002. The writ petition filed by the petitioner challenging the aforesaid order, had also been dismissed by this Court. Immediately thereafter another application was filed on 22nd July 2002 purporting to be under Order VI Rule 16 read with Order VII Rule 11(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure seeking to strike off paragraph 12 and its sub paragraphs (a) to (k) and paragraphs 13 and 14 of the election petition as they are unnecessary, scandalous and vexatious and the allegations made therein are not definite, precise and specific and also do not disclose the material facts and particulars. The consequential relief of dismissal of the election petition was also sought. The respondent no.2 filed his objections. The Election Tribunal, by the impugned order, had rejected the said application on the ground that in the election petition malpractices had not been alleged against the petitioner but the process of election has been challenged on the ground that illiterate voters were not provided helpers for exercising their right of vote and further the design on the ballot paper had been changed and no final view can be taken at this stage.
I have heard Sri N.K.Pandey, the learned counsel for the petitioner, and Sri Manu Khare, the learned counsel appearing for the respondent no.2.
The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the allegations made by the respondent no.2 in his election petition, as contained in paragraph 12, sub-paragraphs (a) to (k) are all vague and do not constitute material facts. Similar is the position in respect of paragraphs 13 and 14 of the election petition and, therefore, they are liable to be struck off/ deleted. He invited the attention of the Court to various averments made in paragraphs 12(a) to (k), 13 and 14 and submitted that they are all vague and lack material facts. Thus, these paragraphs are liable to be deleted and if they are deleted, the election petition does not survive. He submitted that the State Election Commissioner had issued a circular on 20th July 1998 in which detailed procedure for availing the service of a helper to an illiterate voter has been given and in the present case, it has not been alleged by the respondent no.2 that these illiterate voters had, at any point of time, asked for the helper. Further, the procedure laid down has also not been complied with and, therefore, no grievance can be made on the ground that the illiterate voters had not been provided with a helper. He submitted that in the absence of material facts having not been pleaded, the election petition is liable to be thrown out. He relied upon the following decisions:-
"(i) Ram Adhar Singh v. District Judge, Ghazipur and others, 1985 UPLBEC 317;
(ii) Bhagwati Prasad Dixit "Ghorewala" v. Sri Rajeev Gandhi, 1985 AWC 682;
(iii) Raifaqat Hussain v. Rama Shanker Kaushik and others, 1986 ALJ 1446;
(iv) Samar Singh v. Kedar Nath and others, AIR 1987 SC 1926;
(v) Ramji Pandey v. Vikramaditya and others, AIR 1987 Allahabad 92;
(vi) Ram Singh v. Kazi Mohiuddin and others, AIR 1988 Allahabad 210;
(vii) Hari Shanker Jain v. Sonia Gandhi, AIR 2001 SC 3689;
(viii) V.Narayanaswamy v. C.P.Thirunavukkarasu, (2002) 2 SCC 294;
(ix) Saleem Bhai and others v. State of Maharashtra and others, (2003) 1 SCC 557; and
(x) Sopan Sukhdeo Sable and others v. Assistant Charity Commissioner and others, (2004) 3 SCC 137.
Sri Manu Khare, the learned counsel appearing for the respondent no.2, however, submitted that the petitioner had earlier filed an application under Order VII Rule 11(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure, which had been dismissed by the Election Tribunal, which order had been affirmed by this Court in the writ petition filed by the petitioner and immediately thereafter he had filed an application under Order VI Rule 16 read with Order VII Rule 11(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure just to delay the proceeding. The election petition had been filed in the year 2001 and it is at the preliminary stage. The petitioner had not even filed the written statement and it appears that he is interested in only ensuring that he completes the full term by keeping the election petition pending on one ground or the other. He submitted that under Rule 40 of the U.P.Kshettra Panchayats (Election of Pramukhs and Up-Pramukhs and Settlement of Election Disputes) Rules, 1994 (hereinafter referred to as "the Rules"), the Code of Civil Procedure has been made applicable to the extent the matter has not been provided by the Act or in the Rules and, therefore, Order VI Rule 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure would stand modified in its application to the election petition filed under the Rules. He further submitted that under Order VI Rule 16 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the Court may, at any stage of the proceeding, strike out such paragraphs in any pleading which may be unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous or vexatious. According to him, in the election petition filed by the respondent no.2, paragraph 12 including all its sub paragraphs and paragraphs 13 and 14 are neither unnecessary nor scandalous nor frivolous nor vexatious and, therefore, the Election Tribunal had rightly rejected the application filed by the petitioner.
Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, I find that under Rule 36 of the Rules a person filing the election petition questioning the election of Pramukh, has to specify the ground or grounds on which the election is questioned and should contain a summary of the circumstances alleged to justify the election being questioned on such grounds. Under Order VI Rule 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a pleading has to state material facts. It provides that a pleading shall contain a statement in a concise form of the material facts on which the party pleading relies for his claim and his defence, as the case may be, but not the evidence by which they are to be proved. From a reading of the aforesaid provisions, it is seen that while under the Code of Civil Procedure, the pleadings should contain a statement in the concise form of the material facts, in the election petition under Rule 36 of the Rules, the grounds have to be specified on which the election is questioned and should contain a summary of the circumstances to justify the election being questioned on such grounds.
In the case of Ram Adhar Singh (supra), a Full Bench of this Court has held that the law laid down by the Apex Court for recounting/scrutiny of ballot papers under the Representation of Peoples Act would equally apply to the election proceedings under the U.P. Panchayat Raj Act.
In the case of Bhagwati Prasad Dixit "Ghorewala" (supra), this Court has held that an application for striking out the pleading under Order VI Rule 16 of the Code of Civil Procedure is capable of being made at any stage of the proceedings and it is not necessary for a person to file a written statement at once.
In the case of Raifaqat Husain (supra), this Court has held that if a material fact is missing, then there will be no adequate cause of action to maintain the petition and the petition would have to be rejected for want of cause of action under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure besides other provisions. This was a case where a claim for recounting of the votes was made and this Court came to the conclusion that paragraph 23 of the election petition therein did not contain the material facts.
In the case of Samar Singh (supra), the Apex Court has held that the Court has jurisdiction and power to reject an election petition summarily at the threshold under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure and it is open to the Court to exercise that power at any stage.
In the case of Ramji Pandey (supra), this Court has held that the Court would not be justified to order recount or permit inspection of the ballot papers if all the material facts on which the allegations of irregularity or illegality in counting are founded, are not pleaded adequately in the election petition. Where the allegations are mostly general or vague, floating on suspicion or belief of the petitioner and not precise or the inspection/recount claimed tantamounts to seeking a roving enquiry of a fishing nature under the remote expectation of being benefited thereby. There is no firm foundation laid for the Court to interfere. The relief of recounting cannot be acceded to merely on the possibility of there being an error. The Court in the aforesaid case considered the averments made in paragraph 33 of the election petition and held that they are too general and vague in character and amounts only to certain accusation made by the petitioner rather than narrating a concrete set of material facts.
In the case of Ram Singh (supra), this Court has held as follows :-
"31.The consensus of all the aforesaid decisions is that since an order for recount touches upon secrecy of the ballot, it should not be made lightly or as a matter of course. The petitioner must not only give the figures of the votes which according to him were improperly accepted or rejected, but the basis of the allegation must be disclosed, the serial number of ballot papers must be set out, names of the counting agent, number of counting tables, names of the counting supervisor, round number, details of objection, if any, made to the counting staff, details of the notes, if any, kept by the counting agent, and the basis of information must be disclosed. All these constitute material facts and their disclosure is essential to give a composite picture of cause of action and if a material fact is missing there would be no adequate cause of action to maintain the petition and that would have to be rejected for want of cause of action under Order 7, Rule 11, C.P.C. besides other provisions. No such material facts have been disclosed in the instant case."
In the case of V.Narayanaswamy (supra), the Apex Court has held that the material facts and material particulars certainly connotes to different things. Material facts are those facts which constitute cause of action and in a petition on the allegation of corrupt practice, the cause of action cannot be equated with the cause of action as is normally understood because of the consequences that follow in a petition based on the allegations of corrupt practice.
In the case of Hari Shanker Jain (supra), the Hon'ble Supreme Court has held that the material fact would include positive statement of fact as also positive averments of a negative fact, if necessary and failure to plea the material fact is fatal to the election petition and no amendment in the pleading is permissible to introduce such material facts after the time limit prescribed for filing the election petition. The Apex Court has held that it is the duty of the Court to examine the petition irrespective of any written statement and denial and reject the petition if it does not disclose a cause of action. To enable the Court to reject a plaint on the ground that it does not disclose a cause of action, it should look at the plaint and nothing else.
In the case of Sopan Sukhdeo Sable (supra), the Hon'ble Supreme Court has held that the real object of Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure is to keep out of Courts irresponsible law suits. Therefore, Order VII of the Code of Civil Procedure is a tool in the hands of the Courts and by resorting to it and by a searching examination of the party, in case the Court is prima facie persuaded of the view that the suit is an abuse of the process of the Court, in the sense that it is a bogus and irresponsible litigation, the jurisdiction under Order VII Rule 11 can be exercised. The Apex Court has held that Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure does not justify rejection of any particular portion of the plaint and order VI Rule 16 of the Code is relevant in this regard. It deals with striking out pleadings. It has three clauses permitting the Court at any stage of the proceeding to strike out or amend any matter in any pleading , i.e. (a) which may be unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous or vexatious, or, (b) which may tend to prejudice, embarrass or delay the fair trial of the suit, or, (c) which is otherwise an abuse of the process of the Court. In paragraph 20 the Apex Court has pointed out the distinction between material facts and particulars as follows :-
"20. There is distinction between "material facts" and "particulars". The words "material facts" show that the facts necessary to formulate a complete cause of action must be stated. Omission of a single material fact leads to an incomplete cause of action and the statement or plaint becomes bad. The distinction which has been made between "material facts" and "particulars" was brought by Scott, L.J. in Bruce v. Odhams Press Ltd. (1936) 1 KB 697: (1936) 1 All ER 287 (CA), in the following passage : (All ER p.294)
"The cardinal provision in Rule 4 is that the statement of claim must state the material facts. 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; it is ''demurrable' in the old phraseology, and in the new is liable to be ''struck out' under R.S.C. Order 25 Rule 4 (see Philipps v. Philipps, (1878) 4 QBD 127); or ''a further and better statement of claim' may be ordered under Rule 7.
The function of ''particulars; under Rule 6 is quite different. They are not to be used in order to fill material gaps in a demurrable statement of claim - gaps which ought to have been filled by appropriate statements of the various material facts which together constitute the plaintiff's cause of action. The use of particulars is intended to meet a further and quite separate requirement of pleading, imposed in fairness and justice to the defendant. Their function is to fill in the picture of the plaintiff's cause of action with information sufficiently detailed to put the defendant on his guard as to the case he had to meet and to enable him to prepare for trial."
The dictum of Scott, L.J., in Bruce case has been quoted with approval by this Court in Samant N.Balkrishna v. George Fernandez, (1969) 3 SCC 238, and the distinction between "material facts" and "particulars" was brought out in the following terms: (SCC p.250, para 29)
"The word ''material' shows that the facts necessary to formulate a complete cause of action must be stated. Omission of a single material fact leads to an incomplete cause of action and the statement of claim becomes bad. The function of particulars is to present as full a picture of the cause of action with such further information in detail as to make the opposite party understand the case he will have to meet."
Rule 11 of Order 7 lays down an independent remedy made available to the defendant to challenge the maintainability of the suit itself, irrespective of his right to contest the same on merits. The law ostensibly does not contemplate at any stage when the objections can be raised, and also does not say in express terms about the filing of a written statement. Instead, the word "shall" is used, clearly implying thereby that it casts a duty on the court to perform its obligation in rejecting the plaint when the same is hit by any of the infirmities provided in the four clauses of Rule 11, even without intervention of the defendant. In any event, rejection of the plaint under Rule 11 does not preclude the plaintiffs from presenting a fresh plaint in terms of Rule 13."
In the case of Saleem Bhai (supra), the Apex Court has held that the trial Court can exercise the powers under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure at any stage of the suit before registering the plaint or after issuing the summons to the defendant or at any time before the conclusion of the trial and the averments in the plaint are germane and the plea taken by the defendant in the written statement could be wholly irrelevant at that stage.
Thus, it is well settled by the Apex Court that where a pleading lacks material facts and it does not give any cause of action and the suit or the election petition can be thrown out. It may be mentioned here that the application filed by the petitioner under Order VII Rule 11(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure had already been rejected by the Election Tribunal, which order has been upheld by this Court in the writ petition filed by the petitioner himself. Thus, the irresistible conclusion is that the election petition does show a cause of action.
So far as the question as to whether the pleadings contained in paragraphs 12(a) to (k), 13 and 14 of the election petition are liable to be struck off or not, it is necessary to reproduce them:-
"12. That the election of the respondent and his declaration as Pramukh Kshetra Panchayat Junawai is wrong and illegal and is liable to be declared void on the following grounds:-
(a) That the election for the post of Pramukh was to be made by 50 Sadasya of Kshetra Panchayat elected as such for various Nirvachan Kshetres of Kshetra Panchayat Junawai.
(b) That all the Sadasya Kshetra Panchayat were elected from 50 constituents, but had not been administered oath of office under sub-rule (3) of Rules regarding (oath of office to Adhyaksha or Pramukh) U.P. Kshetra Panchayat and Zila Panchayat 1994.
(c) That any Sadasya who has not been administered oath according to rules cannot act as Sadasya and cannot perform/exercise any duties or right including casting vote at an election of Pramukh Kshetra Panchayat.
(d) That none of the alleged Sadasya Kshetra Panchayat who exercised the alleged right of vote was administered oath by 8.3.2001 and as such was not legally Sadasya of Kshetra Panchayat nor was he entitled to vote at the election.
(e) That votes cast by the 50 alleged Sadasya mentioned in paper no.5 filed by petitioner in any case are invalid and void and on the basis of these void votes the respondent could not have been declared elected.
(f) That out of 50 alleged Sadasya of Kshetra Panchayat mentioned in paper no.5, 24 Sadasya were illiterate. At the time of election illiterate Sadasya wanted the help of Returning Officer on requisite form, in casting vote for which they were legally entitled to, but they were not afforded any help with the result that illiterate voters were made to cast their votes without understanding the exact place where mark was to be placed as such there was no election for choosing of candidate for the post of Pramukh by 24 illiterate voters. All the 24 votes cast by them in the election are void and were not liable to be counted.
(g) That the form and design of ballot paper was illegally and arbitrarily changed with the result that voters were confused. The names of candidates and the line on which the candidates name were to be recorded were not separated by line. The ballot papers which were supplied to voters were separated by lines and lines were drawn above and below the name of candidates also and Returning Officer illegally rejected these votes on which mark was found a bit above the line of the petition. These votes so illegally rejected were 11.
(h) That in legal and proper form i.e., format of ballot paper there are no columns or lines in between above or below the names of candidates. The name of candidates were to be written in lines one below the other. The name of the petitioner in the ballot paper was on first line and below him on second line was the name of the respondent. The voters were instructed to cast and were legally entitled to cast their votes against the name of a particular candidate. Since there were only 2 candidates, votes were cast in favour of the petitioner against him name and also a bit above the straight line. They were really for the petitioner which should have been counted in his favour, but the Returning Officer illegally and arbitrarily refused to count these votes.
(i) That similarly ten votes wee cast below the line of name of the respondent i.e. below the line drawn below his name, but all of them were counted in his favour, the votes so cast below the name of the respondent and counted for him were 5 (five).
(j) That because of above the result of election has been material effected. The protests of the petitioner did not bring in any result.
(k) That in any case if the 11 votes illegally rejected would have been counted in favour of the petitioner even then he was entitled to be elected.
13. That the petitioner asked the respondent and the concerned authorities to admit that declaration of result in favour of the respondent and his election to the post of Pramukh Kshetra Panchayat Junawai is void, but they did not pay any heed to it, hence this petition.
14. That the cause of action for the petition arose on 8.3.2001 when the respondent was illegally declared to have been elected to the post of Pramukh Kshetra Panchayat Junawai at Junawai where the election was held and result was declared within the jurisdiction of this Hon'ble Court/ Hence this Hon'ble Court has jurisdiction to entertain and decide the petition."
So far as striking off the paragraphs are concerned, the relevant paragraphs have to be taken into consideration for determining as to whether any of the ground mentioned in Order VI Rule 16 of the Code of Civil Procedure is there or not. The aforesaid pleading can be ordered to be struck off only if they are shown to be unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous or vexatious. From a reading of the aforesaid pleadings, it is seen that they are neither unnecessary nor scandalous nor frivolous. Even they are not vexatious. In the Law Lexicon by P. Ramanatha Aiyar, 1997 Edition, "vexatious" has been defined as follows :-
"Vexatious includes false. An accusation cannot be said to be vexatious unless the main intention of the complainant weas to cause annoyance to the person accussed, and not merely to further the ends of justice."
The word vexation is the action of troubling or harassing by aggression or interference; the action of troubling or irritating by physical means. Thus, by no stretch of imagination the aforesaid pleading can be said to be vexatious. Thus, they cannot be struck off and the Election Tribunal had rightly declined to do so.
The facts as pleaded in the election petition constitute material facts or not are to be looked into for determining whether any cause of action has been disclosed in the plaint or not. This is relevant for the purpose of considering as to whether the plaint should be rejected outright under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure or not. This exercise has already been done by the Election Tribunal earlier when it had rejected the application filed by the petitioner under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which order has also been upheld by this Court in the earlier writ petition filed by him.
Insofar as the question regarding the procedure laid down by the State Election Commissioner for providing a helper to an illiterate voter is concerned, the Election Tribunal is yet to go into the aforesaid aspect and, therefore, the Court refrains itself from expressing any view.
Thus, in view of the foregoing discussion, I do not find any merit in the aforesaid writ petition. The writ petition is dismissed. However, the parties shall bear their own costs.
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