Election Petition not a Fortune Hunting; Kerala HC

The Kerala High Court in T. Siddiqu Vs. P. Karunakaran dated 10 April 2015 dismissed an election petition filed by T Siddique challenging the election of CPM candidate P Karunakaran from the Kasaragod parliament constituency.

Justice B Kemal Pasha dismissed the petition with costs. Siddique contended that LDF candidate P Karunakaran won the election through bogus votes. He argued that there were instances of voters exercising their franchise several times in the constituency.

The petitioner had failed to provide material facts relating to corrupt practice as alleged in the petition. In an election petition, there should be clear evidence to prove corruption charges, the judgement said.

“The polling officials ignored it and refused to take action though the booth agents raised complaints. Many voters were not allowed to enter the booths. The CPM used muscle power to win the election. The polling officers never insisted on proper identity cards, and many voters were allowed to vote even without marking on the finger,” Petitioner alleged.

The court observed that in an election petition, the petitioner cannot be permitted to have a fortune hunting by fishing out evidence on the basis of vague materials. “There should be clear evidence to prove the corrupt charges. The petitioner failed to provide the material facts relating to such corrupt practice,” the court said.

Some of the important observations of the Court on Election Petitions are given below:

It is essential and imperative for the election petitioner to set out with exactitude and precision the type of assistance as also the manner in which assistance was obtained or procured from each person. The material facts regarding the time, the date and the place of the assistance are also required to be set out in the particulars.

The material facts as to what assistance the appellant obtained or procured or abetted or attempted to obtain or procure, from which person, and how the assistance furthered the prospects of the appellant’s election have to be pleaded with exactitude. It would not suffice to merely repeat the language of the statutory provision in the pleadings to constitute material facts within the meaning of Section 83 (1) of the Act.

The petitioner in an election petition cannot be permitted to have a fortune hunting to fish out materials by evidence on the basis of vague pleadings. It is necessary for an election petitioner to make the charges of corrupt practice with full responsibility and to prevent any fishing and roving inquiry and save the returned candidate from being taken by surprise.

Vague pleadings which leave a wide scope to adduce any evidence, cannot be appreciated and acted upon. No amount of evidence can cure basic defects in the pleadings.

In this particular case, it seems that apart from reproducing the laws relating to the corrupt practices as contained in the Act, the petitioner has failed to set forth the material facts relating to such corrupt practices and also the full particulars of all the facts constituting such corrupt practices, in the election petition.

It seems that the petitioner has spread a wide net as if it is a fishing expedition. Such a fishing and roving inquiry by taking the returned candidate by surprise cannot be permitted.

Matters being so, this electionpetition does not reveal any cause of action and therefore, the election petition is liable to be rejected under Order VII Rule 11 CPC. Over and above it, when such material facts and full particulars are not being pleaded, this election petition is liable to be dismissed summarily.