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Friday, February 7, 2014

Sec.94 , 87 and 102 of R.P. Act &Rule 73(2) Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 - Election petition and Recrimination petition --No recount unnecessarily on vague allegations( point d of Recrimination petition) - No court should travel beyond pleadings - MLC - Equal votes on first count - on recount , the appellant was declared as elected by majority of one vote - High court traveled beyond the pleadings and counted and cross checked nearly 30 votes and declared the respondent was an Elected candidate by majority of 3 votes - Apex court held that High court has no right to travel beyond the pleadings - Regarding opinion of 2 votes , Apex court accepted the reasons of high court for two votes but rejected the opinion of high court in respect of third vote and declared it as invalid - both parties obtained equal votes - under sec.102 lottery was held and that the appellant was declared as Elected candidate = Arikala Narasa Reddy …Appellant Versus Venkata Ram Reddy Reddygari & Anr. …Respondents=2014 (February part )judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41200

    Sec.94 , 87 and 102 of R.P. Act &Rule 73(2) Conduct of Elections  Rules,  1961 - Election petition and Recrimination petition -No recount unnecessarily on vague allegations( point d of Recrimination petition) - No court should travel beyond pleadings - MLC - Equal votes on first count - on recount , the appellant was declared as elected by majority of one vote - High court traveled beyond the pleadings and counted and cross checked nearly 30 votes and declared the respondent was an Elected candidate by majority of 3 votes - Apex court held that High court has no right to travel beyond the pleadings - Regarding opinion of 2 votes , Apex court accepted the reasons of high court for two votes but rejected the opinion of high court in respect of third vote and declared it as invalid - both parties obtained equal votes - under sec.102 lottery was held and that the appellant was declared as Elected candidate = 
The votes were  counted  on  2.4.2009  and  initially  both  the
      contesting candidates are said to have got equal number  of  votes  as
      336 each while 29 votes were found invalid.

      E.    On the  application  of  the  appellant  herein,  the  Returning
      Officer allowed re-counting of all the votes wherein the appellant got
      336 votes and the respondent no.1 secured 335 votes and 30 votes  were
      found to be invalid and therefore, the appellant was  declared  to  be
      the successful candidate and elected as MLC by a margin of one vote.=
Election petition and Recrimination petition to High court =

 examined the 3  disputed  votes  in  question  in  the
      presence of the parties and their counsel from the bundle of  disputed
      votes, and after identifying them with the assistance of  the  parties
      and their counsel,  had  taken  the  photocopies  thereof.   
The  said
      photocopies were supplied to the parties and were marked as Ex.X-1, X-
      2 and X-3.

      L.    The High Court scrutinized and examined the 3 votes on 24.1.2012
      and came to the conclusion that  the  Returning  Officer  had  wrongly
      rejected the said 3 votes as  invalid  and  ordered  that  all  the  3
      disputed votes to be counted in favour of respondent no.1. 
The High Court during the trial of the election petition  picked
      up 17 ballot papers from the  bundle  of  rejected  ballot  papers  as
      determined by the Returning Officer and marked the same as Ex.Y-1 to Y-
      17.  The High Court also picked up 2  ballot  papers  from  the  valid
      votes of the appellant and marked the same as Ex.R-1  and  R-2.   Four
      ballot papers were picked up from the valid votes of  respondent  no.1
      and marked as Ex.P-16 to P-19.  
After  considering  all  these  ballot
      papers, the High Court vide judgment and order dated 20.7.2012 allowed
      the election petition holding that certain votes  cast  in  favour  of
      respondent no.1 had wrongly been rejected and the  vote  which  should
      have been declared as invalid had wrongly been counted  in  favour  of
      the appellant as valid and thus, the respondent no.1 was  declared  as
      successful  candidate  and  elected  as  MLC.  
The  operation  of  the
      aforesaid judgment dated 20.7.2012 was stayed only for a period  of  4
      weeks to enable the appellant to approach this Court. =
The appeal to Apex court =
No court order for recount unless....
The result  announced  by  the
      Returning Officer leads to formation of a  government  which  requires
      the stability and continuity  as  an  essential  feature  in  election
      process and therefore, the counting of ballots is not to be interfered
      with frequently. 
More so, secrecy of ballot which is  sacrosanct  gets
      exposed if recounting of votes is made easy. 
The court has to be  more
      careful when the margin between  the  contesting  candidates  is  very
      narrow. 
“Looking for numerical good  fortune  or  windfall  of  chance
      discovery of  illegal  rejection  or  reception  of  ballots  must  be
      avoided, as it may tend to a dangerous  disorientation  which  invades
      the democratic order by providing  scope  for  reopening  of  declared
      results”. 
However, a genuine apprehension of mis-count  or  illegality
      and other compulsions of justice may require the recourse to a drastic
      step.    
No court should travel beyond pleadings 
This Court has consistently held that the court cannot go beyond
      the pleadings  of  the  parties.  
The  parties  have  to  take  proper
      pleadings and establish by adducing  evidence  that  by  a  particular
      irregularity/illegality,  the  result  of  the   election   has   been
      “materially affected”. 
There can be no dispute to  the  settled  legal
      proposition that “as a rule relief not founded on the pleadings should
      not be granted”. 
Thus, a decision of the case should not be  based  on
      grounds outside the pleadings of the parties.  
The issue of marking and writing on ballot papers is governed by
      the Conduct of Elections  Rules,  1961  (hereinafter  referred  to  as
      `Rules’). 
Rule 73(2) of the Rules reads as under:


           “73.   Scrutiny and opening of ballot boxes and the  packets  of
           postal ballot papers:


            (1)  xx               xx         xx


            (2) A ballot paper shall be invalid on which-


           (a)   the figure ‘1’ is not marked;  or


           (b)  the figure ‘1’ is set opposite the name of  more  than  one
           candidate or  is  so  placed as to render it doubtful  to  which
           candidate  it  is intended to apply;  or


           (c)  the figure ‘1’ and some other figures are set opposite  the
           name  of the same candidate;  or


           (d)  there  is  any  mark  or writing by   which   the   elector
           can  be identified.  


                 xx         xx          xx”
In view of the pleadings in  the  election  petition,  the  case
      should have been restricted only to these four votes and even  if  the
      recrimination petition is taken into account, there could have been no
      occasion for the High Court to direct recounting of all the votes  and
      in case certain discrepancies  were found out in recounting  of  votes
      by the Registrar of the High Court as per the direction  of  the  High
      Court, it was  not  permissible  for  the  High  Court  to  take  into
      consideration all such discrepancies and decide the election  petition
      or recrimination petition on the basis thereof. 
The course adopted  by
      the High Court is impermissible and cannot be taken note of  being  in
      contravention with statutory requirements. 
Therefore, the case has  to
      be restricted only to the four votes in the election petition and  the
      allegations made in the  recrimination  petition  ignoring  altogether
      what had been found out  in  the  recounting  of  votes  as  under  no
      circumstance the recounting of votes at that stage was permissible.

In the recrimination petition,  the  appellant
      had raised the following issues:

                 “(a)    ?That one vote marked as ‘7’ was  illegally  counted
                 in  favour  of  the  1st  Respondent  herein  by  the   2nd
                 Respondent  in  spite  of  the  objections  raised  by  the
                 petitioner  at  the  time  of  counting   and   a   written
                 application to reject  the  said  vote  was  filed  by  the
                 petitioner herein.
= On a careful examination of the said exhibit, it is to be held
      that though the same may appear to be `7’ but it is also another  form
      of writing `1’ and thus, there was  no  illegality  committed  by  the
      Returning Officer in holding the same in favour of the respondent  no.1.

                 (b)       The 2nd Respondent has illegally counted one vote
                 in favour of the 1st Respondent though the figure  ‘9’  was
                 marked on the ballot paper and though it is clearly looking
                 as ‘9’.
=The contention is noted just to be rejected as such a figure is to  be
      read only as `1’ for it is impossible to take  such  a  technical  and
      impractical view.  If all the ballots are started  to  be  scrutinized
      and examined in such a hyper technical manner then most of the ballots
      would only stand rejected. Hence, we hold that the mark `1’ is made on
      Ex.P-16 and the same is to be counted in favour of respondent no. 1 as
      has been done.

                 (c)     The 2nd  Respondent has illegally rejected one vote
                 which is validly polled in favour of the petitioner  herein
                 on the ground that the voter has put '2' after  the  figure
                 '1' in the column allotted to the petitioner. According  to
                 law, the 2nd  Respondent has to treat that  vote  as  valid
                 and counted in favour of the  petitioner  herein  in  whose
                 favour '1' is put on the ballot paper and by  ignoring  the
                 subsequent figure.
=However, Ex.Y-11 is to be declared  as  invalid.   Not  only  is
      there scribbling on the said ballot but the final mark that is made on
      the ballot is `2’ which is in direct conflict with  Rule  73(2)(a)  of
      the Rules and hence, the Returning Officer rightly rejected the same.



                 (d)   The 2nd Respondent has illegally rejected some  other
                 votes validly polled in favour of the petitioner on  flimsy
                 and untenable grounds.” =

  As regards the ground (d) it is to be noticed that the  same  is
      non-descriptive and  vague.  
In such a fact-situation the decision as  to  who  will  be  the
      returned candidate is to be decided by the draw of lots by  virtue  of
      the provisions of Section 102 of the Act.

      37.   In view of the above, in the presence of all the learned counsel

      for the parties we have drawn the lots in the open Court and  by  draw
      of lots, the appellant succeeds.

      38.    The  appeals  stand  disposed  of  accordingly  in  favour   of

      appellant.  No costs.

 2014 (February part )judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41200

B.S. CHAUHAN, J. CHELAMESWAR, M.Y. EQBAL
                                                        REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                    CIVIL APPEAL NOs. 5710-5711  OF 2012




      Arikala Narasa Reddy                                  …Appellant

                                   Versus

       Venkata Ram Reddy Reddygari & Anr.                       …Respondents







                               J U D G M E N T

      Dr. B. S. CHAUHAN, J.




      1.       These  appeals  have  been  preferred  against  the  impugned
      judgment and order  dated  20.7.2012,  as  amended  vide  order  dated
      23.7.2012, of the High  Court  of  Judicature  of  Andhra  Pradesh  at
      Hyderabad  in  Election  Petition  No.2  of  2009  and   Recrimination
      Petition No.1 of 2009.

      2.    Facts and circumstances giving rise to these appeals are that:-

      A.    An  election  was  held  on  30.3.2009  for  18-Nizamabad  Local
      Authority Constituency  of  the  Andhra  Pradesh  Legislative  Council
      wherein the appellant stood declared as successful candidate  and  had
      since then been a Member of Legislative Council (MLC).

      B.    The respondent no.1, defeated candidate, filed Election Petition
      No.2 of 2009 on the ground that certain invalid votes had been counted
      in favour of the appellant and certain valid votes which were cast  in
      favour of the respondent no.1 had wrongly been declared invalid.

      C.    The election petition was to be decided on the basis of the fact
      that election for the said post was held on 30.3.2009 wherein  out  of
      706 total votes, 701 votes were cast.

      D.    The votes were  counted  on  2.4.2009  and  initially  both  the
      contesting candidates are said to have got equal number  of  votes  as
      336 each while 29 votes were found invalid.

      E.    On the  application  of  the  appellant  herein,  the  Returning
      Officer allowed re-counting of all the votes wherein the appellant got
      336 votes and the respondent no.1 secured 335 votes and 30 votes  were
      found to be invalid and therefore, the appellant was  declared  to  be
      the successful candidate and elected as MLC by a margin of one vote.

      F.    The election petition was filed mainly  on  the  ground  that  3
      votes in question Ex.X-1 to X-3 polled in  favour  of  the  respondent
      no.1 had been wrongly rejected and one vote  Ex.Y-13  which  had  been
      counted in favour  of  the  appellant  ought  to  have  been  declared
      invalid.

      G.    The High Court issued notice  to  the  appellant  regarding  the
      lodgment of the election petition and the appellant not  only  entered
      appearance but also filed a Recrimination Petition No.1 of 2009  under
      Section 97 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951  (hereinafter
      referred to as the ‘Act’).

      H.     The  appellant  filed  the  written  statement   refuting   the
      allegations and averments made in the petition.

      I.    The respondent no.2, Returning Officer also  filed  his  written
      statement and it appears that during  the  pendency  of  the  election
      petition vide order dated  23.9.2011,  the  High  Court  directed  the
      Registrar (Judicial), High Court of Andhra Pradesh to  scrutinize  and
      re-count all the ballot papers in the  presence  of  the  parties  and
      their counsel as per the rules and regulations, and  the  instructions
      and guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India and submit a
      report within a stipulated period.

      J.    Aggrieved, the appellant challenged the  said  order  by  filing
      Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.29095 of 2011 and  this  Court  vide
      an order dated 20.10.2011 set aside the impugned  order  of  the  High
      Court and directed to first determine the  question  relating  to  the
      validity of the 3 disputed votes and, thereafter, to examine the issue
      of re-counting of all the votes, if required.

      K.    The High Court,  in  pursuance  of  the  order  of  this  Court,
      scrutinized and examined the 3  disputed  votes  in  question  in  the
      presence of the parties and their counsel from the bundle of  disputed
      votes, and after identifying them with the assistance of  the  parties
      and their counsel,  had  taken  the  photocopies  thereof.  
The  said
      photocopies were supplied to the parties and were marked as Ex.X-1, X-
      2 and X-3.

      L.    The High Court scrutinized and examined the 3 votes on 24.1.2012
      and came to the conclusion that  the  Returning  Officer  had  wrongly
      rejected the said 3 votes as  invalid  and  ordered  that  all  the  3
      disputed votes to be counted in favour of respondent no.1.

      M.     Aggrieved,  the  appellant  challenged  the  said  order  dated
      24.1.2012 by filing Special Leave Petition (C)  No.4728  of  2012  and
      this Court disposed of the said SLP on 7.2.2012 observing that it  was
      not appropriate to interfere at that stage but the appellant would  be
      at liberty to urge the same point at the time of final hearing.  Thus,
      this Court did not interfere with the same being an interim order.

      N.    The High Court during the trial of the election petition  picked
      up 17 ballot papers from the  bundle  of  rejected  ballot  papers  as
      determined by the Returning Officer and marked the same as Ex.Y-1 to Y-
      17.  The High Court also picked up 2  ballot  papers  from  the  valid
      votes of the appellant and marked the same as Ex.R-1  and  R-2.   Four
      ballot papers were picked up from the valid votes of  respondent  no.1
      and marked as Ex.P-16 to P-19.
After  considering  all  these  ballot
      papers, the High Court vide judgment and order dated 20.7.2012 allowed
      the election petition holding that certain votes  cast  in  favour  of
      respondent no.1 had wrongly been rejected and the  vote  which  should
      have been declared as invalid had wrongly been counted  in  favour  of
      the appellant as valid and thus, the respondent no.1 was  declared  as
      successful  candidate  and  elected  as  MLC.  
The  operation  of  the
      aforesaid judgment dated 20.7.2012 was stayed only for a period  of  4
      weeks to enable the appellant to approach this Court.

          Hence, these appeals.

      3.    Shri B. Adinarayana Rao, learned senior  counsel  appearing  for
      the appellant has submitted that the election petition  has  not  been
      decided by the High Court giving strict adherence to the provisions of
      the Act and the Rules framed for this purpose.
It was not permissible
      for the High  Court  to  go  beyond  the  pleadings  of  the  election
      petition.    The entire controversy could only  be  in  respect  of  3
      votes as pleaded in the election petition by the respondent no.1 which
      had been declared invalid and another vote which ought  to  have  been
      declared invalid but had been counted in favour of  the  appellant  as
      valid.
It was not permissible for the High Court  to  count  all  the
      votes and pick up large number of votes from  the  bundle  of  invalid
      votes, totaling 30, or from the valid votes duly counted in favour  of
      the appellant or the respondent no.1.  
Counting  has  to  take  place
      strictly in accordance with the rules and there was  no  occasion  for
      the court to find out the intention of the voters or draw an inference
      in whose favour the elector wanted to vote.
 More  so,  the  petition
      filed  by  the  appellant  had  not  been  decided  in   the   correct
      perspective.  Therefore, the appeals deserve to be allowed.

      4.    Per contra, Shri P.P. Rao, learned senior counsel appearing  for
      the respondents has vehemently opposed  the  appeals  contending  that
      even if the case is restricted to aforesaid 4 votes, as  submitted  by
      learned counsel for the appellant, the result so declared by the  High
      Court is not materially affected.
The Returning Officer had committed
      an error in declaring the 3 valid votes in favour  of  the  respondent
      no.1 as invalid and miscounted one vote as valid.   Thus,  in  such  a
      fact-situation, the intention of the elector has  to  be  inferred  in
      view of the statutory rules and executive instructions issued  by  the
      Election Commission for counting the ballot  papers.  
Therefore,  the
      judgment delivered by the High Court can by  no  means  be  termed  as
      perverse and no interference is called for.  The  appeals  lack  merit
      and are liable to be dismissed.

      5.    We have heard the learned counsel for the  parties  and  perused
      the record.

      6.    Section 87 of the Act provides that the election petition is  to
      be tried by the High Court applying the  provisions  of  the  Code  of
      Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  ‘CPC’)  “as
      nearly as may be” and in  accordance  with  the  procedure  applicable
      under CPC  and  the  provisions  of  the  Indian  Evidence  Act,  1872
      (hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  ‘Evidence  Act’)  shall  also  be
      applicable subject to the provisions of the Act.

      7.     It  is  a  settled  legal  proposition   that   the   statutory
      requirements relating to election law have to be strictly  adhered  to
      for the reason that an election  dispute  is  a  statutory  proceeding
      unknown to the common law and thus, the doctrine of equity, etc.  does
      not apply in such dispute.
All the technicalities  prescribed/mandated
      in election law have been provided to  safeguard  the  purity  of  the
      election process and courts have a duty to enforce the same  with  all
      rigours and not to minimize their operation.
A right to be elected  is
      neither a fundamental right nor a common law right, though it  may  be
      very fundamental to a  democratic  set-up  of  governance.  Therefore,
      answer to every question raised in election dispute is  to  be  solved
      within the four corners of the statute.
The result  announced  by  the
      Returning Officer leads to formation of a  government  which  requires
      the stability and continuity  as  an  essential  feature  in  election
      process and therefore, the counting of ballots is not to be interfered
      with frequently. 
More so, secrecy of ballot which is  sacrosanct  gets
      exposed if recounting of votes is made easy. 
The court has to be  more
      careful when the margin between  the  contesting  candidates  is  very
      narrow.
“Looking for numerical good  fortune  or  windfall  of  chance
      discovery of  illegal  rejection  or  reception  of  ballots  must  be
      avoided, as it may tend to a dangerous  disorientation  which  invades
      the democratic order by providing  scope  for  reopening  of  declared
      results”. 
However, a genuine apprehension of mis-count  or  illegality
      and other compulsions of justice may require the recourse to a drastic
      step.

      8.     Before  the  court  permits  the  recounting,  
the   following
      conditions must be satisfied:

            (i) The court must be satisfied that  a  prima  facie  case  is
           established;
           (ii) The material facts and full particulars have  been  pleaded
           stating the irregularities in counting of votes;
           (iii) A roving and fishing inquiry should not be directed by way
           of an order to re-count the votes;
           (iv) An opportunity should be given to file objection; and
           (v) Secrecy of the ballot should be guarded.


      9.    This Court has consistently held that the court cannot go beyond
      the pleadings  of  the  parties.
The  parties  have  to  take  proper
      pleadings and establish by adducing  evidence  that  by  a  particular
      irregularity/illegality,  the  result  of  the   election   has   been
      “materially affected”. 
There can be no dispute to  the  settled  legal
      proposition that “as a rule relief not founded on the pleadings should
      not be granted”.
Thus, a decision of the case should not be  based  on
      grounds outside the pleadings of the parties. In absence of pleadings,
      evidence if any, produced by the parties, cannot be considered. It  is
      also a settled legal proposition that no party should be permitted  to
      travel beyond  its  pleadings  and  parties  are  bound  to  take  all
      necessary and material facts in support of the case set  up  by  them.
      Pleadings ensure that each side is fully alive to the  questions  that
      are likely to be raised and they may have an  opportunity  of  placing
      the relevant evidence before the  court  for  its  consideration.  The
      issues arise only when a  material  proposition  of  fact  or  law  is
      affirmed by one party and denied by the other party. Therefore, it  is
      neither desirable nor permissible for a court to frame  an  issue  not
      arising on the pleadings. The  court  cannot  exercise  discretion  of
      ordering recounting of ballots just to enable the election  petitioner
      to indulge in a roving inquiry  with  a  view  to  fish  material  for
      dealing the election to be void.  
The  order  of  recounting  can  be
      passed only if  the  petitioner  sets  out  his  case  with  precision
      supported by averments of material facts.  (Vide: Ram Sewak  Yadav  v.
      Hussain Kamil Kidwai & Ors., AIR 1964 SC 1249; Bhabhi v. Sheo Govind &
      Ors., AIR 1975 SC 2117; and M. Chinnasamy v. K.C. Palanisamy  &  Ors.,
      (2004) 6 SCC 341).
      10.   There may be an exceptional case where the  parties  proceed  to
      trial fully knowing the rival case and lead all the evidence not  only
      in support of their contentions, but in refutation of the case set  up
      by the other side. Only in such circumstances, absence of an issue may
      not be fatal and a party may not be permitted to submit that there has
      been a mis-trial and the proceedings  stood  vitiated.  (Vide:  Kalyan
      Singh Chouhan v. C.P. Joshi, AIR 2011 SC 1127).


      11.   The secrecy of a ballot is  to  be  preserved  in  view  of  the
      statutory provision contained in Section 94 of the  Act.   Secrecy  of
      ballot has always been treated as sacrosanct and indispensable adjunct
      of free and fair election. Such  principle  of  secrecy  is  based  on
      public policy aimed to ensure that voter  may  vote  without  fear  or
      favour and is free from any apprehension of its disclosure against his
      will.
           In the case of S. Raghbir Singh Gill v. S. Gurcharan Singh Tohra
      & Ors.,  AIR  1980  SC  1362,  a  Constitution  Bench  of  this  Court
      considered the aspect of secrecy of vote and held that such policy  is
      for the benefit of the voters  to  enable  them  to  cast  their  vote
      freely.  However, where a benefit, even though based on public policy,
      is granted to a person, it is open for that person and no one else  to
      wave of such benefit.  The very concept of privilege inheres  a  right
      to wave it.
(See also: Kuldip Nayar v. Union of  India  &  Ors.,  AIR
      2006 SC 3127; and People’s Union for Civil Liberties & Anr.  v.  Union
      of India & Anr., (2013) 10 SCC 1).


      12.   We find some force in the contention of Shri P.P.  Rao,  learned
      senior counsel appearing for the respondent No.1 that  though  secrecy
      of ballot is an inherent principle in conducting  elections,  however,
      the said principle has diminished to some extent in view of  the  rule
      of whip as prescribed in Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India.


      13.   The issue of marking and writing on ballot papers is governed by
      the Conduct of Elections  Rules,  1961  (hereinafter  referred  to  as
      `Rules’). 
Rule 73(2) of the Rules reads as under:


           “73.   Scrutiny and opening of ballot boxes and the  packets  of
           postal ballot papers:


            (1)  xx               xx         xx


            (2) A ballot paper shall be invalid on which-


           (a)   the figure ‘1’ is not marked;  or


           (b)  the figure ‘1’ is set opposite the name of  more  than  one
           candidate or  is  so  placed as to render it doubtful  to  which
           candidate  it  is intended to apply;  or


           (c)  the figure ‘1’ and some other figures are set opposite  the
           name  of the same candidate;  or


           (d)  there  is  any  mark  or writing by   which   the   elector
           can  be identified.  


                 xx         xx          xx”



      14.   In Dr. Anup Singh v. Shri Abdul Ghani & Anr., AIR 1965 SC 815, a
      Constitution Bench of this Court considered  the  provisions  of  Rule
      73(2)(d) which provides that a ballot paper shall be invalid if “there
      is any mark or writing by which the elector can be  identified”.   The
      Court observed as under:
           “10…Thus there are three possible interpretations of  the  words
           "by which the elector  can  be  identified"  appearing  in  Rule
           73(2)(d), namely (i) any mark or writing  which  might  possibly
           lead to the identification of the elector,  (ii)  such  mark  or
           writing  as  can   reasonably   and   probably   lead   to   the
           identification of the elector, and (iii)  the  mark  or  writing
           should be connected by evidence aliened with an elector  and  it
           should be shown that the elector is actually identified by  such
           mark or writing.
           11. ….When the legislature provided that  the  mark  or  writing
           should be such that the elector can be identified thereby it was
           not providing for a mere possibility of identification. On  this
           construction almost every additional mark or writing would  fall
           within the mischief of the provision. If that was the  intention
           the words would have been different,….
           12. We are further of opinion that  the  third  construction  on
           which the appellant relies  also  cannot  be  accepted.  If  the
           intention of the legislature was that only such votes should  be
           invalidated in which the elector was actually identified because
           of the mark or writing, the legislature would not have used  the
           words  "the  mark  or  writing  by  which  the  elector  can  be
           identified". These words in our opinion do not mean  that  there
           must be an actual identification of the elector by the  mark  or
           writing before the vote can be  invalidated.  If  such  was  the
           intention  of  the  legislature  clause  (d)  would  have   read
           something  like  "any  mark  or  writing  which  identifies  the
           elector". But the words used are "any mark or writing  by  which
           the elector can be identified", and these words in  our  opinion
           mean something more than a mere  possibility  of  identification
           but do not require actual proof  of  identification  before  the
           vote can be invalidated, though by such proof, when offered, the
           disability would be attracted.”




      15.   Similarly, in Era Sezhiyan v. T.R. Balu & Ors., AIR 1990 SC 838,
      this Court after considering Rule 73(2) of the Rules held as under:
           “14…Sub-rule (2) of rule  73  of  the  Election  Rules  set  out
           earlier that a ballot paper shall be invalid on which  there  is
           any figure marked otherwise than with the article  supplied  for
           the purpose. Rule 73 is directly applicable to the case  of  the
           election in question and as aforesaid it prescribes that  if  on
           the ballot paper there is any figure marked otherwise than  with
           the article supplied for the purpose, the ballot paper shall  be
           invalid. Assuming that the voter in this case had expressed  his
           intention clearly by marking the figure I in green ink,  he  did
           so in violation of the express provisions  of  the  Rules  which
           have a statutory force and hence no effect can be given to  that
           intention.”                                 (Emphasis added)


            While considering the case, this Court placed reliance upon  its
      earlier judgment in Hari Vishnu Kamath v. Syed Ahmad Ishaque  &  Ors.,
      AIR 1955 SC 233.


      16.   In Km. Shradha Devi v. Krishna Chandra Pant & Ors., AIR 1982  SC
      1569, this Court considered the provisions of  Rule  73(2)(d)  of  the
      Rules and held as under:
           “A ballot paper shall be invalid on which there is any  mark  or
           writing by which the elector can be identified.  Section  94  of
           the Act ensures secrecy of ballot and  it  cannot  be  infringed
           because no witness or other person shall be  required  to  state
           for whom he has voted at an election. Section 94 was interpreted
           by this Court in  Raghubir  Singh  Gill  (supra),  to  confer  a
           privilege upon the voter not to be compelled to disclose how and
           for whom he voted. To ensure free and  fair  election  which  is
           pivotal for setting up a  parliamentary  democracy,  this  vital
           principle was enacted in Section 94 to ensure that a voter would
           be able to vote uninhibited  by  any  fear  or  any  undesirable
           consequence of disclosure of how he voted. As a corollary it  is
           provided that if there is any mark  or  writing  on  the  ballot
           paper which enables the elector to  be  identified,  the  ballot
           paper would be rejected as invalid. But the mark or writing must
           be such as would unerringly lead to the identity of the voter.”



      17.   If all the judgments  referred  to  hereinabove  in  respect  of
      interpreting  the  provisions  of   Rule   73(2)(d)   are   conjointly
      considered, we are of the opinion  that  there  must  be  some  casual
      connection between the mark and the identity of  the  voter  and  such
      writing or marking itself  must  reasonably  give  indication  of  the
      voter’s  identity.  As  to  whether  such  marking  or  writing  in  a
      particular case would disclose the identity of the voter, would depend
      on the nature of writing or marking on the  ballot  involved  in  each
      case.
Therefore, such marking or writing must be such as  to  draw  an
      inference about the identity of the voter. To that  extent,  with  all
      humility at our command, we have to say that word “unerringly” used by
      this Court in Km. Shradha Devi (supra) is not in consonance  with  the
      law laid down by the Constitution Bench of  this  Court  in  Dr.  Anup
      Singh (supra).

      18.   This brings us to  the  next  question  involved  herein  as  to
      whether election petition and recrimination petition have to be  tried
      simultaneously.

            In a composite election petition wherein the  petitioner  claims
      not only that the election of the returned candidate is void but  also
      that the petitioner or some other person be declared to have been duly
      elected, Section 97 of the Act comes into play and allows the returned
      candidate to recriminate and raise counter-pleas  in  support  of  his
      case, "but the pleas of the returned candidate under Section  97  have
      to be tried after a declaration has been made under Section 100 of the
      Act.”  The first part of the enquiry is in regard to the  validity  of
      the election of the returned candidate which is to be tried within the
      narrow limits prescribed by Section 100 (1) (d) (iii) while the latter
      part of the enquiry governed by Section 101 (a) will have to be  tried
      on a broader basis permitting the returned candidate to lead  evidence
      in support of the pleas taken by him in his recrimination petition. If
      the returned candidate does not recriminate as required by Section 97,
      then he cannot make any attack against the alternative claim  made  by
      the election petitioner. In such a case an enquiry would be held under
      Section 100 so  far  as  the  validity  of  the  returned  candidate's
      election is concerned, and  if  as  a  result  of  the  said  enquiry,
      declaration is made that the election of  the  returned  candidate  is
      void, then the Tribunal will proceed  to  deal  with  the  alternative
      claim, but in doing so, the returned candidate will not be allowed  to
      lead any evidence because he  is  precluded  from  raising  any  pleas
      against the validity of the claim of the alternative candidate.
(Vide:
      Jabar Singh v. Genda Lal, AIR 1964 SC 1200; Ram Autar Singh  Bhadauria
      v. Ram Gopal Singh & Ors., AIR 1975 SC  2182;  and  Bhag  Mal  v.  Ch.
      Parbhu Ram & Ors., AIR 1985 SC 150).




      19.   The instant case requires to be considered in light of the above
      settled legal propositions.

           In the instant case, as explained hereinabove,  there  were  706
      total votes, out of which 701  votes  were  polled.  At  the  time  of
      initial counting on 2.4.2009, both the candidates got equal  votes  as
      336 and 29 votes were found invalid. On the request of the  appellant,
      the Returning Officer  permitted  recounting  of  the  votes  and  the
      appellant got 336 votes while the respondent no.1 got 335 votes and 30
      votes were found to be invalid. In the  election  petition,  the  only
      grounds had been that 3 votes i.e. Ex.X-1 to X-3 polled in  favour  of
      respondent no.1 which had wrongly been rejected and one  vote  Ex.Y-13
      which had been counted in favour of the appellant ought to  have  been
      declared invalid.

      20.   In view of the pleadings in  the  election  petition,  the  case
      should have been restricted only to these four votes and even  if  the
      recrimination petition is taken into account, there could have been no
      occasion for the High Court to direct recounting of all the votes  and
      in case certain discrepancies  were found out in recounting  of  votes
      by the Registrar of the High Court as per the direction  of  the  High
      Court, it was  not  permissible  for  the  High  Court  to  take  into
      consideration all such discrepancies and decide the election  petition
      or recrimination petition on the basis thereof. The course adopted  by
      the High Court is impermissible and cannot be taken note of  being  in
      contravention with statutory requirements. Therefore, the case has  to
      be restricted only to the four votes in the election petition and  the
      allegations made in the  recrimination  petition  ignoring  altogether
      what had been found out  in  the  recounting  of  votes  as  under  no
      circumstance the recounting of votes at that stage was permissible.

      21.   We have been taken through the judgment of  the  High  Court  as
      well as the record of the election petition including  photocopies  of
      the ballot papers in question.

      22.   Prayer of the election petition reads as under:

                    a) To declare the election of  respondent  no.1  to  the
                       Legislative  Council  18-Nizamabad  Local   Authority
                       Constituency, Nizamabad held on 30.3.2009 as  illegal
                       and void;

                    b) To direct  recounting  and  scrutiny  of  the  ballot
                       papers and validate three votes cast in favour of the
                       petitioner;

           c)      To declare one vote cast in  favour  of  the  respondent
                 no.1 as invalid;

           d) To set aside the election of the first respondent as      the
              member of the Legislative  Council  from  18-Nizamabad  Local
              Authority Constituency;

           e)      To declare the petitioner as elected to the  Legislative
              Council of the State  of  Andhra  Pradesh  from  18-Nizamabad
              Local  Authority  Constituency  in  the  election   held   on
              30.3.2009;

           f)      To award costs of the petition.




      23.   The particulars as per the election petition in respect  of  the
      aforesaid facts had been as under:

                    a) one vote was polled in favour of  the  petitioner  by
                       marking figure ‘1’, but the same was  doubted  as  it
                       looked like ‘7’ and was kept under doubtful votes.

                    b) One vote which was polled in favour of the petitioner
                       by marking figure ‘1’ was doubted on the ground  that
                       it looked like ‘dot’.

                    c) One vote which was polled in favour of the petitioner
                       by marking figure ‘1’ was treated as doubtful vote on
                       the ground that  the  name  of  the  petitioner,  the
                       contesting candidate was written on the ballot paper.




      24.   On the basis of the pleadings, the following issues were framed:



                    1. Whether the petitioner has got a prima facie case  to
                       an order of scrutiny and recounting of ballot  papers
                       as prayed for in the election petition?

                    2. Whether three (3)  votes  polled  in  favour  of  the
                       petitioner as set out in  paras  10  and  11  of  the
                       election petition are improperly refused or rejected?

                    3. Whether one (1) vote improperly received and  counted
                       in favour of the returned candidate  as  set  out  in
                       para 10 of the election petition?

                    4. Whether the election of the  returned  candidate  has
                       been  materially  affected  by  improper  refusal  or
                       rejection of three (3) votes polled in favour of  the
                       election petitioner and improper reception of one (1)
                       vote in favour of returned  candidate  as  stated  in
                       paras 10 and 11 of the election petition?

                    5.  Whether  the  election  of  the  respondent/returned
                       candidate has to be declared as void?

                    6. To what relief?




      25.    It  is  a  settled  legal  proposition  that  the  instructions
      contained in the handbook for Returning  Officer  are  issued  by  the
      Election Commission in exercise of its  statutory  functions  and  are
      therefore, binding on the  Returning  Officers.  Such  a  view  stands
      fortified by various judgments of this Court in  Ram  Sukh  v.  Dinesh
      Aggarwal, AIR 2010 SC 1227; and Uttamrao Shivdas Jankar v.  Ranjitsinh
      Vijaysinh Mohite Patil, AIR 2009  SC  2975.  
Instruction  16  of  the
      Handbook deals with cases as to when the ballot is not to be rejected.
      The Returning Officers are bound by the Rules and such instructions in
      counting the ballot as has been done in this case.




      26.   The High Court had examined the votes in dispute and came to the
      following findings:

           “Coming to Ex.X-1, the figure ‘1’  is  clearly   marked  by  the
           voter in the panel meant for the petitioner in the ballot paper.
           Though, it was not in the space  which  is  actually  meant  for
           marking figure ‘1’, since it is in the  panel  (space)  provided
           for the petitioner, it has to be  treated  as  valid.  This  was
           also, however, objected to by the first respondent that it looks
           like ‘7’ and not ‘1’. But, it  would  clearly  appear  that  the
           voter marked the figure ‘1’  and  there  is  a  small  extension
           towards left of the said figure on the top. The learned  counsel
           appearing for  the  first  respondent  would  contend  that  the
           intention of the voter is  absolutely  no  relevance  since  the
           rules specifically state that the figure  ‘1’  has  to  be  put.
           While  discussing  the  rules  and  referring  to  the  judicial
           pronouncements, I have already held that a duty is cast upon the
           Returning  Officer  as  well  as  the  court  to  ascertain  the
           intention of the voter. As long as the figure  marked  resembles
           ‘1’, it is illegal to reject the ballot mechanically whenever  a
           doubt arises that the figure  marked  does  not  accord  in  all
           respects with the figure viewed by the Returning Officer or  the
           court. This ballot, however, clearly shows that the  figure  ‘1’
           was  specifically  and  correctly  marked  and  therefore,   the
           Returning Officer rightly validated the said vote in  favour  of
           the petitioner.

           In Ex.X-2, the voter marked figure ‘1’ in the  panel  meant  for
           the petitioner. It was objected to by the first respondent  that
           it looks like ‘dot’. On careful examination, I  found  that  the
           voter in fact marked figure ‘1’, but it is short in  length  and
           the width appears to be more because of the  discharge  of  more
           ink from the instrument supplied to the elector by the Returning
           Officer  for the purpose of marking. According to me,  this  was
           improperly rejected by the  Returning  Officer  saying  that  it
           looks like ‘dot’, but not one. By carefully examining the ballot
           paper unhesitatingly, I hold that the voter  marked  figure  ‘1’
           and it has to be validated  in  favour  of  the  petitioner  and
           accordingly, the same is validated for the petitioner.

                          xxx                    xxx                    xxx
           xxx

           In Ex.X-3, a ‘tick’ mark was put in the  column  meant  for  the
           first respondent in addition to figure ‘1’ which was clearly put
           in the space meant for the petitioner.  This  apart,  the  voter
           wrote that his vote is for ‘Venkata Ram Reddy’ (petitioner).  By
           the said writing, it is not possible to identify the voter. From
           the writing, it is also not possible to draw any inference  that
           there was prior arrangement between the petitioner and the voter
           to write those words. It is also not possible  to  presume  that
           the writing furnishes any reasonable or probable information  or
           evidence to find out the identity of the voter. As  regards  the
           ‘tick’ mark since such mark is not contemplated by the rules  it
           has to be ignored. For all these reasons, since the  figure  ‘1’
           was clearly put by the voter, it has to be validated  in  favour
           of the petitioner. Accordingly, the same is validated in  favour
           of the petitioner.

                 xxx               xxx               xxx              xxx

           As regards Ex.Y-13, it requires to be noticed  that  the  figure
           ‘1’ was clearly and specifically put in the column meant for the
           petitioner. However, the elector in the space provided  for  the
           petitioner for  marking the figure put his signature apart  from
           marking figure ‘1’. From the signature also it is  not  possible
           to trace out the identity of the voter and therefore, this  vote
           also  can  be  validated  in  favour  of  the   petitioner   and
           accordingly, it is validated in favour of the petitioner.”




      27.   In view of the  above, the  High Court concluded  the  trial  of
      the election petition declaring the respondent elected  by  margin  of
      two votes as he secured 338 votes, while  the  appellant  secured  336
      votes.

      28.   We have gone through the record of the case including  the  four
      disputed ballots i.e. Ex. X-1 to 3 and Ex.Y-13 with the  help  of  the
      learned counsel for the parties.  
We agree with the reasoning given by
      the High Court with respect to Ex. X-1 and 2.  
However, Ex.X-3 has  to
      be held to be an invalid ballot  because  of  the  ambiguity  and  the
      additional marking i.e. “his vote is for Venkata Rama  Reddy”  on  it.
      
Further, though the elector has put the mark ‘1’ in front of the  name
      of the respondent no. 1, however, he has also put a tick mark in front
      of the name of the appellant.  
Therefore, it is impossible to make out
      in whose favour the elector  has  voted  and  hence,  this  ballot  is
      rejected as being invalid.

      29.   As regards Ex.Y-13, the voter has, in addition  to  putting  the
      mark ‘1’ in front of the  name  of  the  respondent  no.  1,  put  his
      signature as well.  The said signature is legible and  distinguishable
      and keeping in mind that only 701 votes were polled, it would  not  be
      difficult to identify the elector and, thus,  the  ballot  is  invalid
      being hit by Rule 73 (2) (d) of the Rules.

      30.   In view  of  the  above,  after  modification  of  the  impugned
      judgment and order, the appellant and the respondent  no.1  get  equal
      number of votes i.e. 336 votes each. Therefore, the judgment and order
      of the High Court insofar as  it  relates  to  allowing  the  election
      petition is modified to that extent.

      31.   In such a fact-situation provisions of Section 102  of  the  Act
      have to be resorted to, however, as the result of the  election  stood
      materially affected, we may first consider the recrimination  petition
      filed by the appellant. 
In the recrimination petition,  the  appellant
      had raised the following issues:

                 “(a)    ?That one vote marked as ‘7’ was  illegally  counted
                 in  favour  of  the  1st  Respondent  herein  by  the   2nd
                 Respondent  in  spite  of  the  objections  raised  by  the
                 petitioner  at  the  time  of  counting   and   a   written
                 application to reject  the  said  vote  was  filed  by  the
                 petitioner herein.

                 (b)       The 2nd Respondent has illegally counted one vote
                 in favour of the 1st Respondent though the figure  ‘9’  was
                 marked on the ballot paper and though it is clearly looking
                 as ‘9’.

                 (c)     The 2nd  Respondent has illegally rejected one vote
                 which is validly polled in favour of the petitioner  herein
                 on the ground that the voter has put '2' after  the  figure
                 '1' in the column allotted to the petitioner. According  to
                 law, the 2nd  Respondent has to treat that  vote  as  valid
                 and counted in favour of the  petitioner  herein  in  whose
                 favour '1' is put on the ballot paper and by  ignoring  the
                 subsequent figure.

                 (d)   The 2nd Respondent has illegally rejected some  other
                 votes validly polled in favour of the petitioner on  flimsy
                 and untenable grounds.”




      32.   As regards the ground (d) it is to be noticed that the  same  is
      non-descriptive and  vague.
Any  ground  raised  in  a  recrimination
      petition has to be specific and the court cannot be asked  to  make  a
      roving and fishing enquiry on the mere asking of a party.
Thus, ground
      (d) is not worth consideration.

      33.   Coming  to  ground  (a),  the  same  relates  to  Ex.P-19.   The
      appellant has claimed that on the said ballot mark `7’  had  been  put
      which was treated as mark `1’ and counted in favour of the  respondent
      no. 1.  On a careful examination of the said exhibit, it is to be held
      that though the same may appear to be `7’ but it is also another  form
      of writing `1’ and thus, there was  no  illegality  committed  by  the
      Returning Officer in holding the same in favour of the respondent  no.
      1.  
Ground (b) relates to Ex.P-16, wherein one long stroke is made to
      make a mark denoting the number `1’. However, on the upper side of the
      stroke there is  also  a  small  curve  connecting  the  stroke.   The
      appellant has claimed that due to the said curve  the  figure  on  the
      ballot is in fact `9’ and, hence, should have been declared invalid.
      The contention is noted just to be rejected as such a figure is to  be
      read only as `1’ for it is impossible to take  such  a  technical  and
      impractical view.  If all the ballots are started  to  be  scrutinized
      and examined in such a hyper technical manner then most of the ballots
      would only stand rejected. Hence, we hold that the mark `1’ is made on
      Ex.P-16 and the same is to be counted in favour of respondent no. 1 as
      has been done.

      34.   However, Ex.Y-11 is to be declared  as  invalid.   Not  only  is
      there scribbling on the said ballot but the final mark that is made on
      the ballot is `2’ which is in direct conflict with  Rule  73(2)(a)  of
      the Rules and hence, the Returning Officer rightly rejected the same.

      35.   In view of the above, we reach the inescapable  conclusion  that
      even after deciding the Recrimination Petition, the appellant and  the
      respondent no.1 have received equal number of votes.

      36.   In such a fact-situation the decision as  to  who  will  be  the
      returned candidate is to be decided by the draw of lots by  virtue  of
      the provisions of Section 102 of the Act.

      37.   In view of the above, in the presence of all the learned counsel
      for the parties we have drawn the lots in the open Court and  by  draw
      of lots, the appellant succeeds.

      38.    The  appeals  stand  disposed  of  accordingly  in  favour   of
      appellant.  No costs.


      …………......................J.
               (Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)





      ……….........................J.
       (J. CHELAMESWAR)





      ……….........................J.
                (M.Y. EQBAL)

      NEW DELHI

      February 4, 2014.

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