Representation of the People Act, 1951 – Ss. 123(1), 123(3) & 123(6) – Civil P.C. 1908 – O. VI R. 16 – Striking out Pleadings – Election Petition – Corrupt Practices – ‘star campaigners’ – Use of helicopter – expenditure allegedly incurred in connection with the public meeting of Shri Rahul Gandhi.
The specific pleading in the election petition at paragraph 14M is that the appellant herein used the helicopter on many occasions during the relevant period only between Bhopal and Sidhi, both of which are outside the constituency of the appellant. The admitted fact is that the appellant was one of the star campaigners for the said election for the State of Madhya Pradesh. Therefore, he was required to campaign for his political party, not only in his constituency but also in other constituencies of the State. In the absence of any allegation that the appellant used the helicopter for traveling within 76-Churahat constituency for the purpose of campaigning, the expenditure incurred on that account cannot be included in the election expenditure of the appellant. Therefore, paragraph 14M of the election petition is liable to be struck off and is, accordingly, struck off.
AIR 2016 AIR SC 4087 : JT 2016 (8) SC 517 : 2016 (8) Scale 213 : 2016 (4) R.C.R.(Civil) 170 : 2016 (5) Recent Apex Judgments (R.A.J.) 127 : 2016 AIR (SCW) 4087 : 2016(6) Andh LD 41 : 2016 (4) JBCJ 448 : 2016 (6) All WC 5715
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
(J. Chelameswar) and (Abhay Manohar Sapre) JJ.
August 23, 2016
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8254 OF 2016
(Arising out of SLP (C) No. 4512 of 2015)
Ajay Arjun Singh … Appellant
Sharadendu Tiwari & Others … Respondents
For Petitioner(s) Mr. Anshuman Shrivastava,Adv. Mr. Navin Prakash,Adv. Mr. Abhijeet Shrivastava,Adv. Mr. Tarun Gulia,Adv. Ms. Ruchi Sahay,Adv. Mr. Siddharth Shrivastava,Adv. Mr. Pulkit Tarf,Adv. For Respondent(s) Mr. Vikas Upadhyay,Adv. Respondent-in-person (N.P.) Mr. Kaustubh Anshuraj,Adv.
J U D G M E N T
1. Leave granted.
2. Aggrieved by the Order dated 17.11.2014 of the order of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh in I.A. No. 12911 of 2014 in Election Petition No. 1 of 2014, the unsuccessful applicant therein preferred the instant appeal.
3. The appellant herein is the returned candidate from 76 – Churhat Assembly constituency of the State of Madhya Pradesh in the General Elections held in the year 2013. He was a candidate sponsored by the Indian National Congress Party and won by margin of 19,356 votes. Challenging the legality of the election of the appellant, the first respondent herein, one of the other candidates at the said election, filed Election Petition No.1 of 2014.
4. The appellant herein filed I.A. No.12911 of 2014 invoking
Order VI Rule 16 of the Code of Civil Procedure Code, 1908
(CPC) praying various paragraphs of the election petition be struck off1 on the ground that the allegations contained in those paragraphs are frivolous and vexatious etc. By the order impugned in this appeal, the said I.A. was dismissed. Hence the instant appeal.
5. Before we examine the various questions that arise in this appeal, we think it profitable to examine the scheme of Order VI, Rule 16.
16. Striking out pleadings
The Court may at any stage of the proceedings order to be struck out or amended any matter in any pleading –
(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.”
It authorises the court to order that any matter in any pleading before it be struck out on the grounds specified under clauses (a), (b) and (c). Each one of them is a distinct ground. For example, clause (a) authorises the court to strike out the pleadings which may be (i) unnecessary, (ii) scandalous, (iii) frivolous, (iv) vexatious. If a pleading or part of it is to be struck out on the ground that it is unnecessary, the test to be applied is whether the allegation contained in that pleading is relevant and essential to grant the relief sought. Allegations which are unconnected with the relief sought in the proceeding fall under this category. Similarly, if a pleading is to be struck out on the ground that it is scandalous, the court must first record its satisfaction that the pleading is scandalous in the legal sense and then enquire whether such scandalous allegation is called for or necessary having regard to the nature of the relief sought in the proceeding. The authority of the court under clause (c) is much wider. Obviously, such authority must be exercised with circumspection and on the basis of some rational principles.
1 Para 25. That, the answering respondent, therefore, respectfully submits that paragraphs 14(A), 14(D) from pages 24 to 29 beginning from “in the Shadow Expense Register . . . Annexure P/19”, 14(E), 14(F), 14(G) (i), 14(H) (i), 14(I), 14(L), 14(M), 14(N), 14(O), paragraphs 15 to 17 and 19 be struck off from the pleadings as the same are irrelevant, unnecessary, frivolous and vexatious.
6. The very purpose of the Rule is to ensure that parties to a legal proceeding are entitled ex debito justitia to have the case against them presented in an intelligible form so that they may not be embarrassed in meeting the case.2
2 Golding Vs. Wharton Salt Works, (1876) 1 Q B D 374
7. In the context of the application of Order VI Rule 16, CPC to the election petition, this Court in
Bhikaji Keshao Joshi and Another Vs. Brijlal Nandlal Biyani and Others, AIR 1965 SC 610
held that a court examining an election petition may order striking out of charges which are vague.3
3 it should have ordered a striking out of such of the charges which remained vague and called upon the petitioners to substantiate the allegations in respect of those which were reasonably specific.
Ponnala Lakshmaiah Vs. Kommuri Pratap Reddy and Others (2012) 7 SCC 788
this Court considered the scope of an application under Order VII Rule 11 CPC. Such an application was filed by the returned candidate praying that the election petition be dismissed for non-disclosure of any cause of action. This Court opined that for the purpose of determining such an application, the averments in the election petition must be taken to be factually correct and thereafter examine whether such averments furnish the cause of action for granting the relief to the petitioner. Such a conclusion was recorded on the basis of the law laid down in an earlier judgment of this Court4. We are of the opinion the same principles of law are applicable even while adjudicating the application under Order VI Rule 16.