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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ELECTION PETITION FILED BY VOTER - IMPROPER ACCEPTANCE OF NOMINATION DESPITE OF SUPPRESSION OF MATERIAL FACTS - HIS ELECTION IS VOID- HIGH COURT ALLOWED THE SAME AND SET ASIDE THE ELECTION OF RETURNED CANDIDATE - APEX COURT HELD THAT Once it is found that it was a case of improper acceptance, as there was misinformation or suppression of material information, one can state that question of rejection in such a case was only deferred to a later date. When the Court gives such a finding, which would have resulted in rejection, the effect would be same, namely, such a candidate was not entitled to contest and the election is void. Otherwise, it would be an anomalous situation that even when criminal proceedings under Section 125A of the Act can be initiated and the selected candidate is criminally prosecuted and convicted, but the result of his election cannot be questioned. This cannot be countenanced. The upshot of the aforesaid discussion would be to hold that the present appeal is totally devoid of any merits and is, accordingly, dismissed.= KISAN SHANKAR KATHORE |…..APPELLANT(S) | | | | |VERSUS | | |ARUN DATTATRAY SAWANT & ORS. |…..RESPONDENT(S) | = 2014 (May. Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41540

ELECTION PETITION FILED BY VOTER - IMPROPER ACCEPTANCE OF NOMINATION DESPITE OF SUPPRESSION OF MATERIAL FACTS - HIS ELECTION IS VOID- HIGH COURT ALLOWED THE SAME AND  SET ASIDE THE ELECTION OF RETURNED CANDIDATE - APEX COURT HELD THAT  Once it is found  that  it  was  a  case  of  improper acceptance, as there was misinformation or suppression of  material information, one can state that question of  rejection  in  such  a  case was only deferred to a later date.  When the Court gives  such a finding, which would have resulted in rejection, the effect would be same, namely, such a candidate was not entitled to  contest  and the  election  is  void.   Otherwise,  it  would  be  an  anomalous situation that even when criminal proceedings under Section 125A of the Act can be initiated and the selected candidate  is  criminally prosecuted and convicted, but the result of his election cannot  be questioned.  This cannot be countenanced. The upshot of the aforesaid discussion  would  be  to  hold  that  the  present appeal is totally devoid of any merits and is, accordingly,  dismissed.=


The election petition was filed under Section  100(1)(d)(i)  and  (iv)
         of the Act on the ground that in the nomination form filled  in  by
         the appellant he had suppressed his dues payable to the Government,
         suppressed the  assets  of  his  spouse  and  also  suppressed  the
         information and assets of a partnership  firm  of  which  he  is  a
         partner.  
The appellant contested the said petition.  
Evidence  was
         led.  
After hearing the arguments, the High Court  passed  judgment
         dated August 16, 2007 accepting the plea of  the  first  respondent
         that the nomination form of the appellant was defective and  should
         not have been accepted  by  the  Returning  Officer.   
Thus,  while
         allowing the election petition and setting aside of the election of
         the appellant,  the  High  Court  recorded  the  non-disclosure  on
         following counts:
                  a) Non-disclosure of dues to Maharashtra State Electricity
                  Board in respect of two service connections  held  by  him
                  amounting to Rs.79,200/- and Rs.66,250/-.


                  b)  The appellant failed  to  disclose  the  ownership  of
                  Bungalow No. 866 and the taxes dues thereof  amounting  to
                  Rs.3,445/- owned by his wife.


                  c)  The appellant failed to disclose  the  particulars  of
                  the vehicle MH-05-AC-55 owned by the wife.


               d) The appellant is  guilty  of  non-disclosure  of  property
                  owned by firm Padmavati Developers of which the  appellant
                  is a partner, which owns two plots of lands measuring 1313
                  sq.mtrs. and 1292 sq.mts. in Survey No. 48, Hissa No. 9 of
                  Mouze   Kalyan,   Taluka   Ambarnath,   District    Thane,
                  Maharashtra.


                 Challenging the impugned judgment,  the  present  statutory
         appeal is filed, as provided under Section 116A of the Act.=


A  conjoint  and  combined  reading
         thereof clearly  establishes  that  the  main  reason  for  issuing
         directions by this Court and guidelines by the Election  Commission
         pursuant thereto is that the citizens have fundamental right  under
         Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India  to  know  about  the
         candidates contesting the elections and this is the primary  reason
         that casts a solemn  obligation  on  these  candidates  to  furnish
         information  regarding  the   criminal   antecedents,   educational
         qualifications and assets held by the  candidate,  his  spouse  and
         dependent children.  It is on that basis  that  not  only  Election
         Commission has issued guidelines,  but  also  prepared  formats  in
         which the affidavits are to be filed.  
As a fortiorari, it  follows
         that if the required information as per the said format in  respect
         of the assets of the candidate, his wife and dependent children  is
         not given, it would amount to suppression/non-disclosure.
When the information is given by a candidate in  the  affidavit  filed
         along with the nomination paper and objections are  raised  thereto
         questioning the correctness of the  information  or  alleging  that
         there is non-disclosure of certain important  information, 
 it  may
         not be possible for the returning officer at that time to conduct a
         detailed examination.  
Summary enquiry may  not  suffice.   
Present
         case is itself an example which loudly demonstrates this.   At  the
         same time, it would not be possible for the  Returning  Officer  to
         reject  the  nomination  for  want  of   verification   about   the
         allegations made by the objector.  
In such a case, when  ultimately
         it is proved that it was a case of non-disclosure  and  either  the
         affidavit was false or it  did  not  contain  complete  information
         leading to suppression, it can be  held  at  that  stage  that  the
         nomination was improperly accepted.  
Ms. Meenakshi  Arora,  learned
         senior counsel appearing for the Election Commission, right  argued
         that such an  enquiry  can  be  only  at  a  later  stage  and  the
         appropriate stage would be  in  an  election  petition  as  in  the
         instant case, when the election is challenged.  
The grounds  stated
         in Section 36(2) are those which can be examined there and then and
         on that basis the Returning Officer  would  be  in  a  position  to
         reject the nomination.  
Likewise, where the blanks are left  in  an
         affidavit, nomination can be rejected there  and  then.   In  other
         cases where detailed enquiry is needed, it would  depend  upon  the
         outcome thereof,  in  an  election  petition,  as  to  whether  the
         nomination was properly accepted or  it  was  a  case  of  improper
         acceptance.  
Once it is found  that  it  was  a  case  of  improper
         acceptance, as there was misinformation or suppression of  material
         information, one can state that question of  rejection  in  such  a
         case was only deferred to a later date.  
When the Court gives  such
         a finding, which would have resulted in rejection, the effect would
         be same, namely, such a candidate was not entitled to  contest  and
         the  election  is  void.   
Otherwise,  it  would  be  an  anomalous
         situation that even when criminal proceedings under Section 125A of
         the Act can be initiated and the selected candidate  is  criminally
         prosecuted and convicted, but the result of his election cannot  be
         questioned.  This cannot be countenanced.

39.   The upshot of the aforesaid discussion  would  be  to  hold  that  the
         present appeal is totally devoid of any merits and is, accordingly,
         dismissed.
 2014 (May. Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41540

        SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR, A.K. SIKRI   
                                                
  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4261 OF 2007


|KISAN SHANKAR KATHORE                      |…..APPELLANT(S)           |
|                                           |                          |
|VERSUS                                     |                          |
|ARUN DATTATRAY SAWANT & ORS.               |…..RESPONDENT(S)          |



                               J U D G M E N T

      A.K. SIKRI, J.

                 The appellant herein was the successful  candidate  in  the
         election of legislative  assembly,  which  he  contested  from  56,
         Ambernath Constituency, Thane District,  Maharashtra.   There  were
         five candidates in the fray for which the elections  were  held  on
         October 13, 2004 and the results were declared on October 16, 2004.
          After he was declared elected, his election was challenged by  the
         first respondent, who is a voter  in  the  said  constituency.   He
         filed the election petition in the  High  Court  of  Judicature  at
         Bombay stating that the appellant's nomination had been  improperly
         accepted by the Returning Officer and the election was void due  to
         non-compliance of the provisions of the Constitution of India,  the
         Representation of the People Act, 1951 (hereinafter referred to  as
         'the Act') as well as Rules and Orders framed under the said Act.

2.    The election petition was filed under Section  100(1)(d)(i)  and  (iv)
         of the Act on the ground that in the nomination form filled  in  by
         the appellant he had suppressed his dues payable to the Government,
         suppressed the  assets  of  his  spouse  and  also  suppressed  the
         information and assets of a partnership  firm  of  which  he  is  a
         partner.  The appellant contested the said petition.  Evidence  was
         led.  After hearing the arguments, the High Court  passed  judgment
         dated August 16, 2007 accepting the plea of  the  first  respondent
         that the nomination form of the appellant was defective and  should
         not have been accepted  by  the  Returning  Officer.   Thus,  while
         allowing the election petition and setting aside of the election of
         the appellant,  the  High  Court  recorded  the  non-disclosure  on
         following counts:
                  a) Non-disclosure of dues to Maharashtra State Electricity
                  Board in respect of two service connections  held  by  him
                  amounting to Rs.79,200/- and Rs.66,250/-.


                  b)  The appellant failed  to  disclose  the  ownership  of
                  Bungalow No. 866 and the taxes dues thereof  amounting  to
                  Rs.3,445/- owned by his wife.


                  c)  The appellant failed to disclose  the  particulars  of
                  the vehicle MH-05-AC-55 owned by the wife.


               d) The appellant is  guilty  of  non-disclosure  of  property
                  owned by firm Padmavati Developers of which the  appellant
                  is a partner, which owns two plots of lands measuring 1313
                  sq.mtrs. and 1292 sq.mts. in Survey No. 48, Hissa No. 9 of
                  Mouze   Kalyan,   Taluka   Ambarnath,   District    Thane,
                  Maharashtra.


                 Challenging the impugned judgment,  the  present  statutory
         appeal is filed, as provided under Section 116A of the Act.

3.    We may state, at the outset,  that  there  is  no  dispute  on  facts,
         namely, the appellant had not disclosed  certain  informations,  as
         found by the High Court and noted above, in  his  nomination  form.
         Entire dispute rests on the issue as to whether  it  was  incumbent
         upon the appellant to have disclosed such an information  and  non-
         disclosure thereof rendered his nomination invalid and  void.   The
         nature of information given by  the  appellant  in  his  nomination
         form, on the basis of which the appellant contends that it ought to
         have been treated as substantial compliance, would be taken note of
         later at the appropriate stage.  We deem it  appropriate  to  state
         the legal position contained in the Act, Rules and Orders  as  well
         as the judgments of this Court in order to understand as to whether
         there was a substantial compliance by the appellant in the form  of
         information given by him or it amounted to  non-disclosure  of  the
         material information warranting rejection of his nomination.

4.    Since the petition filed before  the  High  Court  was  under  Section
         100(1)(d)(i) and (iv), we first  take  note  of  these  provisions,
         which are to the following effect:
                  “100.  Grounds for declaring election to be  void.  –  (1)
                  Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) if  the  High
                  Court is of opinion –


                          xx        xx          xx


                  (d)  that the result of the election,  in  so  far  as  it
                  concerns  a  returned  candidate,  has   been   materially
                  affected –


                    (i)  by the improper acceptance or any nomination, or


                            xx      xx         xx


                    (iv)  by any non-compliance with the provisions of  the
                    Constitution or of this Act or of any rules  or  orders
                    made under this Act,


                  the High Court shall declare the election of the  returned
                  candidate to be void.”

5.    Section 100(1)(d)  talks  of  result  of  election  being  'materially
         affected' by improper acceptance, we would like to  reproduce  here
         Section 33(1) of the Act, which mandates  filing  of  a  nomination
         paper completed in the prescribed form in order to constitute it to
         be a valid nomination.  It reads as under:
                  “33.  Presentation of nomination paper and requirement for
                  a valid nomination. – (1)  On or before the date appointed
                  under clause (a)  of  section  30  each  candidate  shall,
                  either in person or by his proposer, between the hours  of
                  eleven o'clock in the forenoon and three  o'clock  in  the
                  afternoon deliver to the returning officer  at  the  place
                  specified in  this  behalf  in  the  notice  issued  under
                  section 31 a nomination paper completed in the  prescribed
                  form and signed by the candidate and by an elector of  the
                  constituency as proposer:


                          xx        xx          xx”

6.    Other relevant provisions are Sections 33A, 34, 35 and 36 of the  Act,
         which are as under:
                  “33A.      Right to information. – (1) A candidate  shall,
                  apart  from  any  information  which  he  is  required  to
                  furnish, under this Act or the rules made  thereunder,  in
                  his nomination paper  delivered  under  sub-section(1)  of
                  section 33, also furnish the information as to whether –


                    (i)     he is accused of any  offence  punishable  with
                        imprisonment for two years or  more  in  a  pending
                        case in which a charge has been framed by the court
                        of competent jurisdiction;


                    (ii)    he has been convicted of an offence other  than
                        any offence referred to in sub-section (1) or  sub-
                        section (2), or  covered  in  sub-section  (3),  of
                        section 8 and sentenced  to  imprisonment  for  one
                        year or more.


                  (2)  The candidate or his proposer, as the  case  may  be,
                  shall, at the time of delivering to the returning  officer
                  the nomination paper under sub-section (1) of section  33,
                  also deliver to him an affidavit sworn by the candidate in
                  a prescribed form verifying the information  specified  in
                  sub-section (1).


                  (3)  The returning officer shall, as soon as may be  after
                  the furnishing of information  to  him  under  sub-section
                  (1), display the aforesaid information by affixing a  copy
                  of the affidavit, delivered under sub-section  (2),  at  a
                  conspicuous place at his office for the information of the
                  electors  relating  to  a  constituency  for   which   the
                  nomination paper is delivered.”


                          xx        xx          xx


                  34.  Deposits. – (1) A candidate shall not be deemed to be
                  duly nominated for election from a constituency unless  he
                  deposits or causes to be deposited. –


                  (a)  in the case  of  an  election  from  a  Parliamentary
                       constituency, a sum of twenty-five  thousand  rupees
                       or where the candidate is a member  of  a  Scheduled
                       Caste or Scheduled Tribe, a sum of  twelve  thousand
                       five hundred rupees; and


                  (b)  in the case  of  an  election  from  an  Assembly  or
                       Council constituency, a sum of ten  thousand  rupees
                       or where the candidate is a member  of  a  Scheduled
                       Caste or Scheduled Tribe, a  sum  of  five  thousand
                       rupees:


                  Provided that where a candidate has been nominated by more
                  than  one  nomination  paper  for  election  in  the  same
                  constituency, not more than one deposit shall be  required
                  of him under this sub-section.


                  (2)  Any sum required to be  deposited  under  sub-section
                  (1) shall not be deemed to have been deposited under  that
                  sub-section  unless  at  the  time  of  delivery  of   the
                  nomination paper under sub-section (1) or, as the case may
                  be, sub-section (1A)  of  section  33  the  candidate  has
                  either deposited or caused to be deposited that  sum  with
                  the  returning  officer  in  cash  or  enclosed  with  the
                  nomination paper a receipt showing that the said  sum  has
                  been deposited by him or on his behalf in the Reserve Bank
                  of India or in a Government Treasury.


                          xx        xx          xx


                  35.  Notice of nominations and  the  time  and  place  for
                  their  scrutiny.  –  The  returning  officer   shall,   on
                  receiving the nomination paper under sub-section  (1)  or,
                  as the case may be, sub-section (1A) of section 33, inform
                  the person or persons delivering the  same  of  the  date,
                  time and place fixed for the scrutiny of  nominations  and
                  shall enter on the nomination paper its serial number, and
                  shall sign thereon a certificate stating the date on which
                  and the hour  at  which  the  nomination  paper  has  been
                  delivered to him; and shall, as soon as may be thereafter,
                  cause to be affixed  in  some  conspicuous  place  in  his
                  office a notice of the nomination containing  descriptions
                  similar to those contained in the nomination  paper,  both
                  of the candidate and of the proposer.


                  36.  Scrutiny of nomination. – (1) On the date  fixed  for
                  the  scrutiny  of  nominations  under  section   30,   the
                  candidates, their election agents, one  proposer  of  each
                  candidate, and one other person duly authorised in writing
                  by each candidate but no other person, may attend at  such
                  time and place as the returning officer may  appoint;  and
                  the returning  officer  shall  give  them  all  reasonable
                  facilities for examining  the  nomination  papers  of  all
                  candidates which have been delivered within the  time  and
                  in the manner laid down in section 33.


                  (2)   The  returning  officer  shall  then   examine   the
                  nomination papers and shall decide  all  objections  which
                  may be made to any nomination  and  may,  either  on  such
                  objection  or  on  his  own  motion,  after  such  summary
                  inquiry, if  any,  as  he  things  necessary,  reject  any
                  nomination on any of the following grounds:–


                   (a)      that on the date  fixed  for  the  scrutiny  of
                         nominations the candidate either is  not  qualified
                         or is disqualified for being  chosen  to  fill  the
                         seat under any of the following provisions that may
                         be applicable, namely:–


                      Articles 84, 102, 173 and 191,


                      Part II of this Act, and sections 4  and  14  of  the
                         Government of Union Territories Act, 1963; or


                   (b)      that there has been a failure  to  comply  with
                         any of the provisions of section 33 or section  34;
                         or


                   (c)      that the signature  of  the  candidate  or  the
                         proposer on the nomination paper is not genuine.




                  (3)  Nothing contained in clause (b) or clause (c) of sub-
                  section (2) shall be deemed to authorise the rejection  of
                  the nomination of any  candidate  on  the  ground  of  any
                  irregularity in respect of  a  nomination  paper,  if  the
                  candidate has been duly  nominated  by  means  of  another
                  nomination paper in respect of which no  irregularity  has
                  been committed.


                  (4)  The returning officer shall not reject any nomination
                  paper on the ground of  any  defect  which  is  not  of  a
                  substantial character.


                  (5)  The returning officer shall hold the scrutiny on  the
                  date appointed in this behalf under clause (b) of  section
                  30 and shall not allow any adjournment of the  proceedings
                  except when such proceedings are interrupted or obstructed
                  by riot or open violence or by causes beyond his control:


                       Provided that in case an objection is raised  by  the
                  returning officer or is  made  by  any  other  person  the
                  candidate concerned may be allowed time to  rebut  it  not
                  later than the next day but one following the  date  fixed
                  for scrutiny, and the returning officer shall  record  his
                  decision on the date to which the  proceedings  have  been
                  adjourned.


                  (6)   The  returning  officer  shall   endorse   on   each
                  nomination paper his decision accepting or  rejecting  the
                  same and, if  the  nomination  paper  is  rejected,  shall
                  record in writing a brief statement  of  his  reasons  for
                  such rejection.


                  (7)  For the purposes of this section, a certified copy of
                  an entry in the electoral roll for the time being in force
                  of a constituency shall be conclusive evidence of the fact
                  that the person referred to in that entry  is  an  elector
                  for that constituency, unless it  is  proved  that  he  is
                  subject to a disqualification mentioned in section  16  of
                  the Representation of the People Act, 1950 (43 of 1950).


                  (8)  Immediately after all the nomination papers have been
                  scrutinized and decisions accepting or rejecting the  same
                  have been recorded, the returning officer shall prepare  a
                  list of validly nominated  candidates,  that  is  to  say,
                  candidates whose nominations have been  found  valid,  and
                  affix it to his notice board.”




7.    After having taken note of the aforesaid statutory provisions, let  us
         now proceed to discuss some of  the  important  judgments  of  this
         Court and to cull out legal principles therefrom  on  the  subject,
         which  have  a  direct  bearing  on  the  issue  of  disclosure  of
         information.

8.    First case that needs a mention, which is a  milestone  and  trigerred
         electoral reforms in this country, is Union of India v. Association
         for Democratic Reforms & Anr., (2002) 5 SCC 294.  In this case, the
         Court held that it was  incumbent  upon  every  candidate,  who  is
         contesting election, to give information about his assets and other
         affairs, which requirement is not only essential part of  fair  and
         free elections, inasmuch as, every voter has a right to know  about
         these details of the candidates, such a requirement is also covered
         by  freedom  of  speech  granted  under  Article  19(1)(a)  of  the
         Constitution of India.  The summing up the entire discussion in the
         judgment can be found in the following passage:


                  “46.  To sum up  the  legal  and  constitutional  position
                  which emerges from the aforesaid  discussion,  it  can  be
                  stated that:


                  1.   The jurisdiction of the Election Commission  is  wide
                  enough to include all powers necessary for smooth  conduct
                  of elections and the word “elections” is used  in  a  wide
                  sense to include the  entire  process  of  election  which
                  consists of several stages and embraces many steps.


                  2.   The limitation on plenary character of power is  when
                  Parliament or State  Legislature  has  made  a  valid  law
                  relating  to  or  in  connection   with   elections,   the
                  Commission is required to act in conformity with the  said
                  provisions.  IN case where law is silent, Article 324 is a
                  reservoir of power to act for the avowed purpose of having
                  free and fair election.  The Constitution has  taken  care
                  of leaving scope for exercise of residuary  power  by  the
                  Commission  in  its  own  right  as  a  creature  of   the
                  Constitution in the infinite variety  of  situations  that
                  may emerge from time to time  in  a  large  democracy,  as
                  every contingency could not be foreseen or anticipated  by
                  the enacted laws  or  the  rules.   By  issuing  necessary
                  directions, the Commission can fill the vacuum till  there
                  is legislation on the subject.  In Kanhiya Lal  Omar  case
                  (1985) 4  SCC  628  the  Court  construed  the  expression
                  “superintendence, direction and control” in Article 324(1)
                  and held that a direction may mean an order  issued  to  a
                  particular individual or a precept which many may have  to
                  follow and it may be a specific or  a  general  order  and
                  such phrase should be construed liberally  empowering  the
                  Election Commission to issue such orders.


                  3.   The word “elections” includes the entire  process  of
                  election which consists of several stages and it  embraces
                  many steps, some of which may have an important bearing on
                  the  process  of  choosing  a  candidate.   Fair  election
                  contemplates disclosure  by  the  candidate  of  his  past
                  including the assets held by him so as to  give  a  proper
                  choice to the candidate  according  to  his  thinking  and
                  opinion.  As stated earlier, in Common Cause case,  (1996)
                  2 SCC 752 the Court dealt with a contention that elections
                  in the country are fought with the  help  of  money  power
                  which is gathered from black sources and once  elected  to
                  power, it becomes easy to collect  tons  of  black  money,
                  which is used for retaining power and for re-election.  If
                  on an affidavit a candidate is required  to  disclose  the
                  assets held by him at the time of election, the voter  can
                  decide whether he could be re-elected even in  case  where
                  he has collected tons of money.


                       Presuming, as contended by the learned Senior Counsel
                  Mr. Ashwani Kumar, that this condition  may  not  be  much
                  effective for breaking a vicious circle which has polluted
                  the basic democracy in the country as the amount would  be
                  unaccounted.  May be true, still this would have  its  own
                  effect as a step-in-aid and  voters  may  not  elect  law-
                  breakers as law-makers and some flowers of  democracy  may
                  blossom.


                  4.   To maintain the purity of elections and in particular
                  to bring transparency in  the  process  of  election,  the
                  Commission can ask the candidates  about  the  expenditure
                  incurred by the political parties and this transparency in
                  the process of election would include  transparency  of  a
                  candidate  who  seeks  election  or  re-election.   In   a
                  democracy, the electoral process  has  a  strategic  role.
                  The little man of this country would have basic elementary
                  right to know full particulars of a candidate  who  is  to
                  represent him in Parliament where laws to bind his liberty
                  and property may be enacted.


               5. The right to get information in  democracy  is  recognised
                  all throughout and it is a natural right flowing from  the
                  concept of democracy.  At this stage, we  would  refer  to
                  Article 19(1) and (2) of  the  International  Covenant  on
                  Civil and Political Rights, which is as under:


                       “(1)  Everyone shall have the right to hold  opinions
                  without interference.


                       (2)  Everyone shall have  the  right  to  freedom  of
                  expression; this right  shall  include  freedom  to  seek,
                  receive and impart information and  ideas  of  all  kinds,
                  regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing  or  in
                  print, in the form of art, or through any other  media  of
                  his choice.”


                  6.   On cumulative reading of a plethora of  decisions  of
                  this Court as referred to, it is clear that if  the  field
                  meant for legislature and  executive  is  left  unoccupied
                  detrimental to the public interest, this Court would  have
                  ample jurisdiction under Article 32 read with Articles 141
                  and 142 of the Constitution to issue necessary  directions
                  to the executive to subserve public interest.


                  7.   Under our Constitution, Article 19(1)(a) provides for
                  freedom of  speech  and  expression.   Voter's  speech  or
                  expression in case of election would  include  casting  of
                  votes, that is to say, voter speaks out  or  expresses  by
                  casting vote.  For this  purpose,  information  about  the
                  candidate to be selected is a must.  Voter's (little man –
                  citizen's) right to know  antecedents  including  criminal
                  past of his candidate contesting election for MP or MLA is
                  much more fundamental and basic for survival of democracy.
                   The little man may think over before making his choice of
                  electing law-breakers as law-makers.

9.     On  the  basis  of  the  aforesaid  discussion,  this  Court   issued
         directions for filing affidavit and the nature of information which
         was to be given, spelling out the same in para 48 of the  judgment,
         which reads as under:
                  “48. The Election  Commission  is  directed  to  call  for
                  information on affidavit by  issuing  necessary  order  in
                  exercise  of  its  power  under   Article   324   of   the
                  Constitution of India from each candidate seeking election
                  to Parliament or a State Legislature as a  necessary  part
                  of his nomination paper, furnishing  therein,  information
                  on  the  following  aspects   in   relation   to   his/her
                  candidature:


                  (1)   Whether  the   candidate   is   convicted/acquitted/
                  discharged of any criminal offence in the past –  if  any,
                  whether he is punished with imprisonment or fine.


                  (2)  Prior to six months of filing of nomination,  whether
                  the candidate is accused  in  any  pending  case,  of  any
                  offence punishable with  imprisonment  for  two  years  or
                  more, and in which charge is framed or cognizance is taken
                  by the court of law.  If so, the details thereof.


                  (3)  The assets (immovable, movable, bank  balance,  etc.)
                  of  a  candidate  and  of  his/her  spouse  and  that   of
                  dependants.


                  (4)  Liabilities, if any, particularly whether  there  are
                  any  overdues  of  any  public  financial  institution  or
                  government dues.


                  (5)  The educational qualifications of the candidate.”

10.   The judgment in Association for Democratic Reforms  led  to  amendment
         in the Act with the induction of Section  33A  (already  reproduced
         above) as well as Section 33B therein.   Election  Commission  also
         laid down guidelines in the year 2002.  Insofar as Section  33B  is
         concerned, it was struck down by this Court in the case of People's
         Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) & Anr. v. Union of India  &  Anr.,
         (2003) 4 SCC 399.

11.   In order to bring  the  directions  contained  in  the  aforesaid  two
         judgments within the statutory framework, revised  guidelines  were
         issued by the Election Commission on March 23, 2006.  In para 5  of
         these guidelines, para 14  of  the  judgment  in   Association  for
         Democratic Reforms is reproduced.  Likewise, para 13 takes note  of
         the directions given in  the  case  of  People's  Union  for  Civil
         Liberties.  In para 15, it is noted that the Supreme  Court,  while
         striking  down  Section  33B  of  the  Act,  stated  that   earlier
         directions  of  Election  Commission  dated  June  28,  2002  would
         continue to operate subject to the  afore-mentioned  directions  of
         the Court and, therefore, revised directions had become  necessary.
         In para 16, these directions  are issued in supersession of earlier
         directions  dated  June  28,  2002.   Paras  1  and  3   of   these
         guidelines/directions are  relevant  for  us,  and,  therefore,  we
         reproduce the same as under:
                  “(1) Every candidate at the time of filing his  nomination
                  paper for any election to the Council of State,  House  of
                  the  People,  Legislative  Assembly  of  a  State  of  the
                  Legislative Council of a  State  having  such  a  council,
                  shall furnish full and complete information in  regard  to
                  the matters specified by the  Hon'ble  Supreme  Court  and
                  quoted in paras 13 and 14  above,  in  an  affidavit,  the
                  format whereof is annexed hereto  as  Annexure-I  to  this
                  order.
                          xx        xx          xx


                  (3)  Non-furnishing of  the  affidavit  by  any  candidate
                  shall be considered to be violation of the  order  of  the
                  Hon'ble Supreme Court and the nomination of the  candidate
                  concerned shall be liable to rejection  by  the  returning
                  officer at the time of scrutiny of  nomination  such  non-
                  furnishing of the affidavit.”

12.   We would also like to reproduce para 17  of  these  guidelines,  which
         concerns the case at hand:
                  “17. For the removal of doubt, it is hereby clarified that
                  the earlier direction  contained  in  para  14(4)  of  the
                  earlier  order  dated  28th  June,  2002,  in  so  far  as
                  verification of assets and liabilities by means of summary
                  enquiry and rejection of nomination paper on the ground of
                  furnishing  wrong  information  or  suppressing   material
                  information is not enforceable in pursuance of  the  order
                  dated 13th March, 2003 of the Apex Court.  It  is  further
                  clarified that apart from the affidavit Annexure-I  hereto
                  referred to in para 16(1) above, the candidate shall  have
                  to comply with the other requirements as spelt out in  the
                  Representation of the People Act, 1951, as amended by  the
                  Representation of the People (Third Amendment)  Act,  2002
                  and the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, as amended by the
                  Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules, 2002.”

13.   The meaning and scope of  these  guidelines  came  up  for  discussion
         before this Court in Resurgence India  v.  Election  Commission  of
         India & Anr., (2013) 11 Scale 348.  That judgment was rendered in a
         writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution  of  India
         for  issuance  of  specific  directions  to  effectuate  meaningful
         implementation  of  the  judgments  in  Association  of  Democratic
         Reforms,  People's Union for Civil Liberties and also to direct the
         Election Commission to make it compulsory for the Returning Officer
         to ensure that the affidavits filed by the contestants are complete
         in  all  respects  and  to  reject  the  affidavits  having   blank
         particulars.   This petition, thus was filed  taking  note  of  the
         practice which had started prevailing, namely, many candidates were
         leaving some of the  columns  blank  in  their  affidavits  thereby
         omitting  to  provide  the  required  information.   As   per   the
         petitioner in that case,  in  such  an  eventuality  the  Returning
         Officer should reject the nomination whereas  the  Union  of  India
         pleaded that  it  should  be  treated  at  par  with  filing  false
         affidavits and the candidate filing such  an  affidavit  should  be
         prosecuted under Section 125A of the Act.  The Court took  note  of
         the provisions of  Sections  33A,  36  and  125A  of  the  Act  and
         thereafter referred to the earlier three Judge  Bench  judgment  of
         this Court in Shaligram Shrivastava v. Naresh Singh Patel, (2003) 2
         SCC 176, wherein the Court had discussed the power of rejecting the
         nomination paper by the Returning Officer of a candidate filing the
         affidavit with particulars left blank.  The relevant discussion  in
         this behalf is in paras 15 and 16 of the said judgment, which  read
         as under:
                  “15. Although,  the  grounds  of  contention  may  not  be
                  exactly similar to the case  on  hand  but  the  reasoning
                  rendered in that verdict will come in aid for ariving at a
                  decision in the given case.   In  order  to  arrive  at  a
                  conclusion in that case, this Court traversed through  the
                  objective  behind  filing  the  proforma.   The   proforma
                  mandated in that case was required to be filed as  to  the
                  necessary and relevant  information  with  regard  to  the
                  candidate in the light of Section 8 of the RP  Act.   This
                  Court further held that  at  the  time  of  scrutiny,  the
                  Returning Officer is entitled to satisfy  himself  whether
                  the candidate is qualified and  not  disqualified,  hence,
                  the  Returning  Officer  was  authorized  to   seek   such
                  information  to  be  furnished  at  the  time  or   before
                  scrutiny.  It was further held that if the candidate fails
                  to furnish such information and also  absents  himself  at
                  the time of the scrutiny of the nomination papers, then he
                  is obviously avoiding a statutory inquiry being  conducted
                  by the Returning Officer under Section 36(2) of the RP Act
                  relating to his being not qualified or disqualified in the
                  light of Section 8 of the RP Act.  It is bound  to  result
                  in defect of a substantial character  in  the  nomination.
                  This Court further held as under:


                    “17.  In the case in hand the candidate  had  failed  to
                    furnish such information as sought on the proforma given
                    to him and had also failed to be present  personally  or
                    through his representative at the time of scrutiny.  The
                    statutory duty/power of Returning  Officer  for  holding
                    proper  scrutiny  of  nomination  paper   was   rendered
                    nugatory.  No scrutiny of the nomination paper could  be
                    made under Section 36(2) of the  Act  in  the  light  of
                    Section  8  of  the  Act.   It  certainly  rendered  the
                    nomination paper suffering from  defect  of  substantial
                    character and  the  Returning  Officer  was  within  his
                    rights in rejecting the same.”


                  16.  It is clear that the Returning  Officers  derive  the
                  power to reject the nomination papers on the  ground  that
                  the contents to be filled in the affidavits are  essential
                  to effectuate the intent of the provisions of the  RP  Act
                  and as a consequence, leaving the affidavit blank will  in
                  fact make it  impossible  for  the  Returning  Officer  to
                  verify whether the candidate is qualified or  disqualified
                  which indeed will frustrate the object behind  filing  the
                  same.   In  concise,  this  Court  in  Shaligram   (supra)
                  evaluated the  purpose  behind  filing  the  proforma  for
                  advancing latitude to the Returning Officers to reject the
                  nomination papers.”


14.   The legal position  is,  thereafter,  summarized  in  para  27,  which
         becomes important for our purpose and, therefore,  we  produce  the
         same hereunder:
                  “27.  What  emerges  from  the  above  discussion  can  be
                  summarized in the form of following difections:


                  (i)  The voter has  the  elementary  right  to  know  full
                  particulars of a candidate who is to represent him in  the
                  Parliament/Assemblies and such right to get information is
                  universally recognized.  Thus, it is held  that  right  to
                  know about the candidate is a natural right  flowing  from
                  the concept of  democracy  and  is  an  integral  part  of
                  Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.


                  (ii) The ultimate purpose of  filing  of  affidavit  along
                  with the nomination paper is to effectuate the fundamental
                  right of  the  citizens  under  Article  19(1)(a)  of  the
                  Constitution of India.  The citizens are supposed to  have
                  the  necessary  information  at  the  time  of  filing  of
                  nomination paper  and  for  that  purpose,  the  Returning
                  Officer can very well compel a candidate  to  furnish  the
                  relevant information.


                  (iii)     Filing of affidavit with blank particulars  will
                  render the affidavit nugatory.


                  (iv) It is the duty of  the  Returning  Officer  to  check
                  whether the information required is fully furnished at the
                  time of filing of  affidavit  with  the  nomination  paper
                  since such information is very vital for giving effect  to
                  the 'right to know' of the citizens.  If a candidate fails
                  to  fill  the  blanks  even  after  the  reminder  by  the
                  Returning Officer, the  nomination  paper  is  fit  to  be
                  rejected.  We do comprehend that the  power  of  Returning
                  Officer to reject the nomination paper must  be  exercised
                  very sparingly but the bar should not be laid so high that
                  the justice itself is prejudiced.


                  (v)  We clarify to the extent that  Para  73  of  People's
                  Union for Civil Liberties case (supra) will  not  come  in
                  the way of the Returning Officer to reject the  nomination
                  paper when affidavit is filed with blank particulars.


                  (vi)  The  candidate  must  take  the  minimum  effort  to
                  explicitly remark as 'NIL' or  'Not  Applicable'  or  'Not
                  known' in the columns and not  to  leave  the  particulars
                  blank.


                  (vii)     Filing of affidavit with blanks will be directly
                  hit by Section 125A(i) of the RP  Act.   However,  as  the
                  nomination paper  itself  is  rejected  by  the  Returning
                  Officer, we find no reason why the candidate must be again
                  penalized for the same act by prosecuting him/her.”

15.   Keeping in mind the aforesaid  statutory  framework  as  well  as  the
         legal principles enunciated in the afore-noted  judgments,  we  now
         proceed to discuss the nature of information about which there  was
         non-disclosure by the appellant.

      RE – Non-disclosure of Government dues
16.   The appellant had not disclosed, in his nomination  paper/  affidavit,
         that he was  in  arrears  in  respect  of  two  electricity  meters
         standing in his name, in respect whereof electricity connection was
         given by  the  Maharashtra  State  Electricity  Board  (for  short,
         'MSEB').  The outstanding amount in these two meters was Rs.79,200/-
          and Rs.66,250/- respectively.  It was  proved,  on  the  basis  of
         evidence led by the respondent herein, that the aforesaid dues were
         outstanding against these two electricity connections.  The defence
         of the appellant, however, was that one  electricity  meter,  which
         was in his residential bungalow, was defective  and  complaints  in
         this behalf were made to MSEB from time to time and because of that
         dispute he was orally advised by the officials of MSEB not  to  pay
         the amount.

17.   The High Court proceeded on the assumption that there was  a  dispute.
         However, as per the High Court that could not be a valid reason for
         not disclosing this information with a note  that  the  matter  was
         pending review at the hands of MSEB.  Thereafter,  the  High  Court
         posed the question as to whether such non-disclosure can be treated
         as a technical defect or it is a substantive one.  As per the  High
         Court, the answer could be found by adverting to the form  and  the
         affidavits to be filed along with the nomination form.  These forms
         required the candidates to  disclose  his  liabilities/overdues  to
         public financial institution and Government dues.  Since MSEB is  a
         Government  body,  the  appellant  was  supposed   to   give   this
         information.  The High Court opined  that  non-disclosure  of  this
         information, which is very vital to enable the voter  to  form  his
         opinion   about   the   candidate's   antecedents,   resulted    in
         misinformation and disinformation thereby influencing the voters to
         take an uninformed decision.  The  discussion  on  this  aspect  is
         summed up by the High Court in the following manner:
                  “Accordingly, I have no hesitation in taking the view that
                  it is a case of non-disclosure of liability in respect  of
                  outstanding  electricity  bills  payable   to   Government
                  Undertaking  (M.S.E.B.);  and  that  non-disclosure  is  a
                  substantive defect in  the  affidavits  filed  along  with
                  nomination form.  The test to  hold  that  the  defect  is
                  substantive, in my opinion, is not  the  amount  involved,
                  but the conscious act of non-disclosure and suppression of
                  that fact.  It would be a  case  of  technical  defect  if
                  there was some clerical error in the information disclosed
                  by the candidate or for that matter, a  case  of  omission
                  due to lack of knowledge of existence of  such  dues.   In
                  the present case, the Respondent was conscious  and  aware
                  of the fact that on the date of filing of  the  nomination
                  form, there were  two  outstanding  electricity  bills  in
                  relation to two meters standing in his  name,  payable  to
                  M.S.E.B.  It would have been a  different  matter  if  the
                  Respondent was unaware of that fact or that no  such  bill
                  was ever issued by the M.S.E.B.  That is not the  case  of
                  the Respondent.  Thus understood, non-disclosure about the
                  outstanding electricity bill in the sum  of  Rs.  79,200/-
                  payable by the Respondent to  M.S.E.B.  Is  a  substantive
                  defect in the affidavit.  Resultantly, the nomination form
                  filed along with such affidavit would become  tainted  and
                  for which reason, it will have to be held  that  the  same
                  has been improperly accepted within the meaning of Section
                  100(1)(d)(i) of  the  Act.   Besides,  the  candidate  has
                  failed to comply with the requirements of the order issued
                  by the Election Commission in  exercise  of  powers  under
                  Article 324(1) of the Constitution of India which order is
                  founded on the Law declared by the Apex Court in the  case
                  of Union of India vs. Association for  Democratic  Reforms
                  (supra) and binding under Article 141 of the Constitution,
                  therefore,  affecting  his  nomination  as  well  as   the
                  Election being void under  Section  100(1)(d)(iv)  of  the
                  Act.”

18.   Insofar as outstanding dues  in  respect  of  the  second  electricity
         meter are concerned, that pertained to premises which had been  let
         out by the appellant to his tenants.  There was no dispute that the
         amount was outstanding.  However, the defence of the appellant  was
         that the primary liability  of  making  payment  was  that  of  the
         tenants.  The High  Court  had  discarded  this  defence  with  the
         observations that electricity  meter  stood  in  the  name  of  the
         appellant in relation to which  there  was  an  outstanding,  which
         amount was payable on the date of filing of the  nomination.   Even
         the premises where this meter had been installed were owned by  the
         appellant.  Therefore, in law, it was the appellant who was  liable
         to be proceeded against for recovery of the amount  and  this  fact
         was enough justification to disclose the aforesaid outstanding.  As
         per  the  High  Court,  even  this   non-disclosure   amounted   to
         substantive defect.
                 On that basis, the High Court held that  non-disclosure  of
         these Government dues rendered the nomination  paper  invalid  and,
         therefore, it was a case of improper acceptance.

.     RE – Non-disclosure of bungalow No. 866 in  the  name  of  spouse  and
         outstanding taxes thereof

19.   Bungalow No.  866  at  Badlapur  in  the  limits  of  Kulgaon-Badlapur
         Municipal Council stands in the name of Kamal Kishore Kathore, wife
         of the appellant.  At the time of filing the nomination, there were
         municipal dues in the sum of Rs.3,465/-.  Allegation of  the  first
         respondent was that both the aforesaid informations were suppressed
         and not disclosed in the affidavit filed  by  the  appellant  along
         with the nomination form.   According  to  him,  this  was  crucial
         information regarding immovable property owned by  the  appellant's
         wife, suppression whereof amounted to filing a defective  affidavit
         and such an affidavit was no affidavit in the eyes of law.

20.   Significantly, the averment of the first respondent  in  the  election
         petition that the appellant had  suppressed  information  regarding
         the aforesaid immovable property belonging  to  his  wife  was  not
         specifically denied by the appellant.  The  appellant  only  denied
         the liability of taxes pertaining to this property, that too on the
         ground that this property was required to be put to revaluation and
         reassessment for the purpose of assessing the taxes  and  for  this
         purpose since the measurement of the  property  was  undertaken  to
         assess the taxable value, no demand  notices  were  issued  by  the
         municipal authority.  Even  hearing  regarding  re-assessment  took
         place on December 28, 2014 before the  Collector  and  it  is  only
         after  the  completion  of  the  reassessment  work  the  municipal
         authority had issued tax demand notices.

21.   In view of the aforesaid, the High Court observed that as far  as  the
         ownership of the property in the name of the wife of the  appellant
         is concerned, it  was  a  clear  case  of  non-disclosure  and  the
         ownership was proved even on the basis of evidence produced  before
         the Court.  As far as non-payment of municipal dues  is  concerned,
         the High Court  noted  that  the  appellant  merely  explained  the
         circumstances in his written statement  as  to  why  the  municipal
         taxes in relation to that property had not been paid.  However, the
         municipal taxes were paid in part on October 28,  2004,  after  the
         date of  filing  of  nomination  with  the  payment  of  Rs.1,783/-
         pertaining to the year 2003-04.  It would show that  the  appellant
         was in arrears.  The Court also  discussed  the  evidence  on  this
         aspect,  namely,  about  the  purported  dispute  relating  to  the
         reassessment as set up by the appellant  in  his  defence  and  has
         returned a finding of fact that, in fact,  there  were  arrears  of
         municipal taxes in relation to that house.

22.   As far as non-disclosure of the immovable property is  concerned,  the
         only reply given by the appellant was that there was a  substantial
         compliance  because  of  the  reason  that  the  appellant  in  his
         affidavit had disclosed the value of all the  properties  belonging
         to him and his spouse, in the  sum  of  Rs.11,10,000/-.   The  High
         Court, however, found that no such case was made out in the written
         statement.  Moreover, in the  affidavit  filed  by  the  appellant,
         against the column of immovable properties, he  had  disclosed  the
         properties at Badlapur and Kulgaon, valued at Rs.11,10,000/-, shown
         against the column 'Self'.  Thus, the valuation of  the  properties
         given in the affidavit was of those properties which belong to  the
         appellant and, therefore, it was a clear case of non-disclosure  of
         wife's property.  This non-disclosure is also taken as  a  material
         defect.  Summing up the discussion on this aspect, the High  Court,
         in para 74, observed as under:
                  “74. Insofar as the  present  case  is  concerned,  as  is
                  mentioned earlier, the fact asserted by the Petitioner  is
                  that the Respondent has not disclosed the ownership of his
                  wife in relation to house No. 866/4 in the  affidavit  “at
                  all”.   That  allegation  has  remained  unchallenged  and
                  undenied.  In my opinion, therefore, there is substance in
                  the stand taken on  behalf  of  the  Petitioner  that  the
                  affidavit  filed  by  the  Respondent   along   with   the
                  nomination paper is only  to  do  lip-service  and  is  no
                  affidavit at all as is required by the mandate of  law  or
                  the order issued  by  the  Election  Commission  which  is
                  founded on the Law declared by the  Apex  Court.   As  the
                  affidavit  filed  by  the  Respondent   along   with   the
                  nomination form suffers from this substantive defect,  the
                  nomination of the Respondent has been improperly  accepted
                  within the meaning of Section  100(1)(d)(i)  of  the  Act.
                  Besides, the election of the Respondent was void  also  on
                  account of non-compliance  of  the  order  passed  by  the
                  Election Commission under Article 324 of the  Constitution
                  of India, which is founded on the Law declared by the Apex
                  Court under Article 141  of  the  Constitution  of  India,
                  within the meaning of Section 100(1)(d)(iv) of the Act.”

      RE – Non-disclosure of vehicle MH-05-AC-555 owned by  the  appellant's
         wife

23.   Here again, from the detailed discussion  contained  in  the  impugned
         judgment of the High  Court,  it  becomes  clear  that  by  leading
         requisite and sufficient evidence, the first respondent proved that
         wife  of  the  appellant  owned  the  aforesaid  vehicle  and   the
         particulars  thereof  were  not  disclosed.   The  defence  of  the
         appellant was that he  had  mentioned  the  value  thereof  in  his
         affidavit, but accepted that it was against column 'Self'  and  not
         in the independent column of his spouse.  His defence is  discussed
         and rejected by the High Court in the following manner:
                  “89. On analysis of the pleadings,  it  follows  that  the
                  Respondent admits that motor vehicle in question is  owned
                  by his wife.  However, it is not  his  case  that  in  the
                  nomination form, he has disclosed  the  ownership  of  the
                  said vehicle of his wife.  Perhaps, the Respondent intends
                  to suggest that he has  substantially  complied  with  the
                  requirements by disclosing the ownership of motor  vehicle
                  valued Rs.5,50,000/- and that  it  was  purchased  against
                  loan given by M & M Financial Services Ltd.


                  90.  Before we  deal  with  the  ocular  evidence  of  the
                  parties, it will  be  useful  to  make  reference  to  the
                  details to be  disclosed  by  the  candidate  as  per  the
                  prescribed  affidavit.   The  requirement  is   that   the
                  candidate  should  disclose  the  “details  of  the  motor
                  vehicles” owned and possessed  by  him,  his  wife  and/or
                  other dependent members of his  family  separately.    The
                  Respondent, however, against  the  said  column  has  only
                  mentioned figure of Rs.5,50,000/- under the column 'Self',
                  which gives an impression that the Respondent himself owns
                  vehicle valued Rs.5,50,000/- and nothing more.  No details
                  of the motor vehicle such as number of vehicle, the  make,
                  the model such as economic, luxury or the year of purchase
                  and the like are disclosed so as to enable the  voters  to
                  assess  whether  the  details  disclosed  are  correct  or
                  undervalued, including the legitimate means and capability
                  of the candidate to possess such assets.  As in  the  case
                  of  disclosure  made  by  the  Respondent  in  respect  of
                  buildings, in similar manner, the disclosure in respect of
                  vehicle is also incomplete,  vague  and  misleading.   The
                  candidate cannot get away with the explanation that he has
                  disclosed some amount in one of the columns as  sufficient
                  or substantial compliance.  The purpose of  disclosure  of
                  assets (movable and immovable) and liabilities to be  made
                  by the candidate, is  to  educate  the  voters  about  the
                  complete  financial  status  of   the   candidate,   which
                  information also facilitates the voter to  assess  whether
                  the  assets  (movable  and  immovable)  declared  by   the
                  candidate have been procured by him out of his  legitimate
                  and known source of income.  The voters have a fundamental
                  right to know  and  receive  such  information  about  the
                  candidate before they take an informed decision  to  elect
                  their candidate.  As it is the fundamental  right  of  the
                  voters, there is corresponding duty on  the  candidate  to
                  disclose truthful and complete information  regarding  the
                  assets (movable  and  immovable)  as  per  the  prescribed
                  affidavits which forms integral  part  of  the  nomination
                  form.”






      RE – Non-disclosure of property purchased in the name of the firm

24.   The first respondent had alleged  that  the  appellant  has  a  right,
         title and interest in land measuring 1330 sq.mts. being Survey  No.
         48, Hissa No. 9, Plot No.2 and also in land admeasuring about  1292
         sq.mts. being Survey No. 48,  Hissa  No.  9,  Plot  No.3  at  Mouje
         Kalyan, Taluka Ambernath, District  Thane.   These  properties  are
         purchased in the  name  of  the  partnership  firm  M/s.  Padmavati
         Developers under agreement of development and sale.  The  appellant
         was one of the partners in the said firm.  However,  the  appellant
         had not disclosed his interest  in  the  aforesaid  assets  in  the
         affidavit filed along with the nomination form.  The defence of the
         appellant in relation to this allegation was that  he  had  retired
         from the partnership firm in the year 2003 and in his letter  dated
         October 28, 2004 sent to the Returning Officer, he had stated  that
         the aforesaid two properties do not belong to him.  The High  Court
         noted  that  admittedly  there  was  no  reference  about  the  two
         properties in the affidavits filed along with the nomination  form.
         Further, it was a common case that M/s.  Padmavati  Developers  was
         formed as a partnership  firm  in  the  year  1995,  of  which  the
         appellant was one of the partners.  There was also no dispute  that
         the bank account was operated in the name of the  said  partnership
         firm and appellant was one of the joint signatory.  Thus, the  only
         aspect which needed determination was as to whether  the  appellant
         had retired from the said partnership firm  in  November  2003,  as
         claimed by him.  However, from the plethora of documentary evidence
         placed on record, the High Court  returned  a  finding  that  those
         documents clearly show that the appellant continued  to  remain  an
         active partner even after 2003 and was, in fact, a partner  on  the
         date of filing of the nomination.   Apart  from  various  documents
         revealing and establishing this fact, most important  document  was
         the Deed of Dissolution of the partnership firm,  which  was  dated
         January 11, 2005 and at the time of  evidence,  the  appellant  had
         admitted the contents thereof, as well as  the  signatures  of  the
         three partners appearing on that document.
                 The High Court summed up the decision  on  this  aspect  in
         the following manner:
                  “124.     On overall analysis of the evidence, I  have  no
                  hesitation  in  concluding   that   the   Petitioner   has
                  established the allegation that the  Respondent  continued
                  to be partner of the partnership firm Padmavati Developers
                  at least till December 2004.  It is also matter of  record
                  and admitted position that neither the Respondent nor  any
                  other partner  of  Padmavati  Developers  caused  to  give
                  public notice of the retirement of the partner or for that
                  matter, intimation to the Registrar of Firms till  January
                  2005.   Obviously,  intimation  has  been  sent   to   the
                  Registrar of Firms only after the institution and  service
                  of the present  Election  Petition,  having  realised  the
                  seriousness of the allegation.  If so, it  was  obligatory
                  on the part of the Respondent to disclose his interest  in
                  the properties purchased in the name of the said firm.”

25.   It would be pertinent to mention here that the  first  respondent  had
         alleged non-disclosure of many other assets, liabilities,  etc.  or
         suppression  of  other  material  information  in  the  affidavits.
         However, apart  from  the  aforesaid  four  non-disclosures,  other
         allegations have not been accepted by the  High  Court.   We  would
         also like to mention at this stage itself  that  on  all  the  four
         counts the High Court has recorded  finding  of  facts,  which  are
         based on the evidence  produced  on  record.   As  would  be  noted
         hereinafter, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant did
         not even attempt to argue that these findings are wrong  on  facts.
         He only made legal submissions and his entire  endeavour  was  that
         for non-disclosure of the aforesaid  information,  the  High  Court
         could not have held that the nomination was  wrongly  accepted  and
         further that since there was a substantial compliance, there was no
         reason to set aside the election of the appellant.

26.   On these aspects, the High Court had framed issues No. 7 and 8,  which
         are as under:
                  “(7) Does the  Petitioner  proves  that  the  Respondent's
                  Nomination Form is improperly accepted  by  the  Returning
                  Officer”


                  (8)  Whether on account  of  improper  acceptance  of  the
                  nomination  paper,  the  Election  result  is   materially
                  affected?”

27.   On Issue No.7, finding of  the  High  Court  is  that  nomination  was
         improperly  accepted  by  the  Returning  Officer  by  giving   the
         following reasons:
                  “130.     That takes me to the next issue  as  to  whether
                  Petitioner proves that the Respondent's nomination form is
                  improperly accepted by the Returning Officer?  Insofar  as
                  this issue is concerned, the Respondent may  be  right  to
                  the extent that the Returning Officer  cannot  be  faulted
                  for having accepted the nomination form of the Respondent.
                    That  was  required  to  be  accepted  inspite  of   the
                  objection, in view of the decision of the  Apex  Court  in
                  the case of PUCL (supra)  and  the  order  issued  by  the
                  Election Commission on the basis of the  Law  declared  in
                  the said Judgment.  Inasmuch as, it was not  open  to  the
                  Returning  Officer  to  enquire  into  contentious  issues
                  raised in this Petition in  the  summary  enquiry  at  the
                  stage of scrutiny  of  nomination  forms.   Those  matters
                  necessarily  have  to  be  addressed  only  after  it   is
                  disclosed in  an  enquiry  upon  taking  evidence  on  the
                  relevant facts at the  trial  of  the  Election  Petition.
                  That does not mean that the nomination of  Respondent  was
                  proper and lawful.  As the Respondent's  nomination  paper
                  suffered from the  defects  already  referred  to  in  the
                  earlier part of this decision, it is  plainly  a  case  of
                  improper  acceptance  of  his  nomination  paper  by   the
                  Returning Officer,  covered  by  the  rigours  of  Section
                  100(1)(d)(i) of the Act.  The issue No.7 will have  to  be
                  answered accordingly.”

28.   Issue No. 8 pertains to  the  question  as  to  whether  the  election
         result was materially affected because  of  non-disclosure  of  the
         aforesaid information.  The High Court took note of  provisions  of
         Section 100(1)(d)(i) and (iv) and discussed the same.   Thereafter,
         some judgments  cited  by  the  appellant  were  distinguished  and
         deciding this issue against the appellant, the High Court concluded
         as under:
                  “137.     In my opinion, it is not necessary to  elaborate
                  on this matter beyond a point, except to observe that when
                  it is a case  of  improper  acceptance  of  nomination  on
                  account  of  invalid  affidavit  or  no  affidavit   filed
                  therewith, which affidavit is necessarily an integral part
                  of the nomination form; and when that  challenge  concerns
                  the returned candidate and if upheld, it is not  necessary
                  for the Petitioner to further  plead  or  prove  that  the
                  result of  the  returned  candidate  has  been  materially
                  affected by such improper acceptance.


                  138. The avowed purpose of filing the affidavit is to make
                  truthful disclosure of all the relevant matters  regarding
                  assets (movable and immovable) and liabilities as well  as
                  criminal actions (registered, pending  or  in  respect  of
                  which cognizance has been taken by the Court of  competent
                  jurisdiction or in relation to conviction  in  respect  of
                  specified  offences).   Those  are   matters   which   are
                  fundamental  to  the  accomplishment  of  free  and   fair
                  election.  It is the fundamental right of the voters to be
                  informed about all matters in relation to such details for
                  electing candidate of their choice.   Filing  of  complete
                  information and to make truthful disclosure in respect  of
                  such matters is the  duty  of  the  candidate  who  offers
                  himself or who is nominated for election to represent  the
                  voters from that Constituency.  As the  candidate  has  to
                  disclose this information on affidavit, the  solemnity  of
                  affidavit  cannot  be  allowed  to  be  ridiculed  by  the
                  candidates   by   offering   incomplete   information   or
                  suppressing    material    information,    resulting    in
                  disinformation and  misinformation  to  the  voters.   The
                  sanctity of disclosure to be made by the  candidate  flows
                  from the constitutional obligation.”

29.   As pointed out above, there is no dispute on  facts  that  information
         in respect of the aforesaid four aspects was not disclosed  by  the
         appellant in the affidavit filed by him along with  the  nomination
         form.  The defence and/or justification  given  for  non-disclosing
         these particulars is rightly rebuffed by the High Court.   However,
         submission of  Mr.  B.  Adinarayana  Rao,  learned  senior  counsel
         appearing for the appellant, was that having regard to the judgment
         of this Court in G.M. Siddheshwar v. Prasanna Kumar, (2013)  4  SCC
         776, the Court was required to examine as  to  whether  information
         given  in  the  affidavits  was  substantial  compliance  of  those
         particulars regarding Government dues, assets and liabilities, etc.
           He  submitted  that  the  information  amounted  to   substantial
         compliance.  For this purpose, his attempt was to demonstrate  that
         insofar as electricity dues of MSEB  are  concerned,  there  was  a
         genuine dispute about the  non-payment;  as  far  as  ownership  of
         bungalow No. 866 in the name of his wife is concerned, it was added
         to the value of the properties belonged to the appellant; municipal
         taxes in respect of this bungalow  were  again  subject  matter  of
         dispute; the value of the  vehicle  owned  by  his  wife  was  also
         disclosed against his own name; and as far as properties  owned  by
         the partnership firm are concerned,  the  appellant  was  simply  a
         partner from which he had resigned, even when this  event  occurred
         after the filing of the nomination form.

30.   We may state, in the  first  instance,  that  the  judgment  in   G.M.
         Siddheshwar has no application  insofar  as  the  present  case  is
         concerned.  The Court was dealing with the form of  affidavit  that
         is required to be filed along with the election petition  in  order
         to comply with the provisions of Section 83(1) proviso of the  Act.
         The very maintainability of the election petition was challenged on
         the ground that the affidavit furnished by the election  petitioner
         was not in absolute compliance with the format affidavit (Form 25).
          The Court, however, upheld the view of the High Court holding that
         on perusal of the affidavit, there was substantial compliance  with
         the prescribed format.  Even when some  defect  was  found  in  the
         verification to the election petition, it was held that said defect
         is also curable and cannot be held fatal to the maintainability  of
         the election petition.  In the present case, we are concerned  with
         the affidavit which a candidate seeking  election  is  required  to
         file along with his nomination form.  At the same time, we  proceed
         on the basis that if there  is  a  substantial  compliance  of  the
         requirements contained in the said affidavits, in  the  sense  that
         there  is  a  disclosure   of   required   particulars,   including
         assets/liabilities etc., it can be treated as  adequate  compliance
         of the provisions of the Act, Rules and Orders.

31.   We have  also  kept  in  mind  the  following  observations  in   G.M.
         Siddheshwar, while undertaking our analysis of  the  issue  in  the
         present case:
                  “31. The Court must make a fine balance between the purity
                  of the election process and the avoidance of  an  election
                  petition being a  source  of  annoyance  to  the  returned
                  candidate and his constituents.  In Azhar Hussain v. Rajiv
                  Gandhi, 1986 Supp SCC 315  this  Court  observed  (in  the
                  context of summary dismissal  of  an  election  petition):
                  (SCC p. 324, para 12)


                    “12...So long as the sword of Damocles of  the  election
                    petition  remains  hanging  an  elected  member  of  the
                    legislature would not feel sufficiently free  to  devote
                    his  whole-hearted  attention  to  matters   of   public
                    importance  which  clamour  for  his  attention  in  his
                    capacity   as   an   elected   representative   of   the
                    constituency concerned.  The time and attention demanded
                    by his elected  office  will  have  to  be  diverted  to
                    matters  pertaining  to  the  contest  of  the  election
                    petition.  Instead of being engaged  in  a  campaign  to
                    relieve the distress of the people in general and of the
                    residents of his constituency who voted him into office,
                    and instead of resolving their  problems,  he  would  be
                    engaged in campaign to establish that  he  has  in  fact
                    been duly executed.”




32.   In view of the aforesaid, two  facets  of  the  issue,  which  require
         consideration, are as follows:
         a)      Whether there is a substantial compliance in disclosing the
         requisite information in the  affidavits  filed  by  the  appellant
         along with the nomination paper?
         b)      Whether non-disclosure of the  information  on  account  of
         aforesaid four aspects has materially affected the  result  of  the
         election?

33.   We have already discussed in detail each  item  of  non-disclosure  as
         well as defence of  the  appellant  pertaining  thereto.   For  the
         reasons recorded in detail at that stage  by  the  High  Court  and
         stated above, with which we agree, we are of the opinion  that  its
         finding about non-disclosure of the information qua all the aspects
         is without blemish.  There  is  a  specific  format  in  which  the
         information is to be given, which was not adhered to.

34.   With these remarks we proceed to deal with the first aspect.
            Insofar as non-disclosure of the electricity dues is  concerned,
         in the given facts of the case, we are of the opinion that  it  may
         not be a serious lapse.  No doubt, the dues  were  outstanding,  at
         the same time, there was a bona fide dispute about the  outstanding
         dues in respect of the first electricity meter.  It would have been
         better on the part of the appellant to give the  information  along
         with a note about the dispute, as suggested by the High  Court,  we
         still feel that when the appellant nurtured belief in a  bona  fide
         manner that because of the said dispute  he  is  not  to  give  the
         information about the outstanding amount,  as  it  had  not  become
         'payable',  this  should  not  be  treated  as  a  material  lapse.
         Likewise, as far as the second electricity meter is  concerned,  it
         was in the premises which was rented out to  the  tenants  and  the
         dues were payable by the tenants in the first instance.  Again,  in
         such circumstances, one can bona  fide  believe  that  the  tenants
         would pay the outstanding amount.  No doubt, if the tenants do  not
         pay the amount the liability would have been  that  of  the  owner,
         i.e. the appellant.  However, at the time of filing the nomination,
         the appellant could not presume that the tenants would not pay  the
         amount and, therefore, it had become his liability.   Same  is  the
         position with regard to non-payment  of  a  sum  of  Rs.1,783/-  as
         outstanding municipal dues, where there was a genuine dispute as to
         revaluation and reassessment for the purpose of assessing the taxes
         was yet to be undertaken.  Having said so, we may clarify  that  it
         would depend in the facts and circumstances  of  each  case  as  to
         whether such a non-disclosure would amount  to  material  lapse  or
         not.  We are, thus, clarifying that our  aforesaid  observation  in
         the facts of the present case  should  not  be  treated  as  having
         general application.

35.   Even if it is so, in respect of the aforesaid aspects, on  other  non-
         disclosures, the case of the appellant has to fail.  We find  clear
         case of non-disclosure of bungalow No.  866  in  the  name  of  the
         appellant's wife, which is a substantial lapse.   So  is  the  case
         about the non-disclosure of vehicle  in  the  name  of  appellant's
         wife.  Likewise, non-disclosure of the  appellant's  interest/share
         in the partnership firm is a very serious and major lapse.  On  all
         these aspects, we find that the  defence/explanation  furnished  by
         the appellant does not inspire any confidence.   It  is  simply  an
         afterthought attempt to wriggle out of the material  lapse  on  the
         part of the appellant in not disclosing the  required  information,
         which was substantial.  We, therefore, are of the view that in  the
         affidavits given by the appellant along with the  nomination  form,
         material information  about  the  assets  was  not  disclosed  and,
         therefore, it is  not  possible  to  accept  the  argument  of  the
         appellant that information contained in the affidavits  be  treated
         as sufficient/substantial compliance.

36.   We have already reproduced above the relevant  portions  of  judgments
         in the cases of Association for  Democratic  Reforms  and  People's
         Union for Civil Liberties and the guidelines issued by the Election
         Commission pursuant thereto.    A  conjoint  and  combined  reading
         thereof clearly  establishes  that  the  main  reason  for  issuing
         directions by this Court and guidelines by the Election  Commission
         pursuant thereto is that the citizens have fundamental right  under
         Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India  to  know  about  the
         candidates contesting the elections and this is the primary  reason
         that casts a solemn  obligation  on  these  candidates  to  furnish
         information  regarding  the   criminal   antecedents,   educational
         qualifications and assets held by the  candidate,  his  spouse  and
         dependent children.  It is on that basis  that  not  only  Election
         Commission has issued guidelines,  but  also  prepared  formats  in
         which the affidavits are to be filed.  As a fortiorari, it  follows
         that if the required information as per the said format in  respect
         of the assets of the candidate, his wife and dependent children  is
         not given, it would amount to suppression/non-disclosure.

37.   It was argued that acceptance of nomination is as per  Section  33  of
         the  Act,  which  contains  requirement  for  a  valid  nomination.
         Further Section 36(2) deals with rejection of nomination on grounds
         specified therein.  It was the submission  of  the  learned  senior
         counsel that at the  time  of  scrutiny  of  the  nomination  under
         Section 36, nomination could be rejected only if any of the grounds
         stipulated in sub-section (2) are satisfied and there cannot be any
         'deemed' ground, which is not covered by Section 36(2) of the  Act.
         Therefore,  the  Returning  Officer  had   rightly   accepted   the
         nomination form as none of the grounds specified in sub-section (2)
         of Section 36 were attracted.  He further submitted  that  Sections
         8A, 9, 9A, 10 and 10A  provide  disqualifications  for  Members  of
         Parliament and State Legislature.  As per the  counsel,   from  the
         scheme of the Act it can be seen that at the time  of  scrutiny  of
         nomination, all that the Returning Officer is required  to  examine
         is  as  to  whether  the  candidate  suffers  from   any   of   the
         disqualifications mentioned in Section 8 to 10A of the Act  and  as
         to whether the nomination is in the form prescribed by  Section  33
         and accompanied by the documents mentioned in sub-sections 2  to  7
         of Section 33  and  whether  it  is  accompanied  by  an  affidavit
         prescribed by Rule 4A and the deposit required by Section 34 of the
         Act.  Apart from  the  aforesaid,  the  Returning  Officer  is  not
         empowered to reject the nomination on any other ground.  He  argued
         that the right of  the  Returning  Officer  to  conduct  a  summary
         inquiry into the correctness or otherwise of the  contents  of  the
         affidavit filed along with the nomination was expressly taken  away
         as can be seen from the judgment of  this  Court  in  the  case  of
         People's  Union  for  Civil  Liberties.   Having  noted  that   the
         Returning Officer has no power to reject a nomination  where  false
         information is furnished or material information is suppressed, the
         Election Commission of India and Union of India have requested this
         Court to treat the same as equal to a blank affidavit, as noted  in
         the case of Resurgence India.
                 It is difficult to accept the aforesaid submissions of  the
         learned senior counsel as  that  would  amount  to  nullifying  the
         effect of the  judgments  as  well  as  guidelines  issued  by  the
         Election Commission.

38.   When the information is given by a candidate in  the  affidavit  filed
         along with the nomination paper and objections are  raised  thereto
         questioning the correctness of the  information  or  alleging  that
         there is non-disclosure of certain important  information,  it  may
         not be possible for the returning officer at that time to conduct a
         detailed examination.  Summary enquiry may  not  suffice.   Present
         case is itself an example which loudly demonstrates this.   At  the
         same time, it would not be possible for the  Returning  Officer  to
         reject  the  nomination  for  want  of   verification   about   the
         allegations made by the objector.  In such a case, when  ultimately
         it is proved that it was a case of non-disclosure  and  either  the
         affidavit was false or it  did  not  contain  complete  information
         leading to suppression, it can be  held  at  that  stage  that  the
         nomination was improperly accepted.  Ms. Meenakshi  Arora,  learned
         senior counsel appearing for the Election Commission, right  argued
         that such an  enquiry  can  be  only  at  a  later  stage  and  the
         appropriate stage would be  in  an  election  petition  as  in  the
         instant case, when the election is challenged.  The grounds  stated
         in Section 36(2) are those which can be examined there and then and
         on that basis the Returning Officer  would  be  in  a  position  to
         reject the nomination.  Likewise, where the blanks are left  in  an
         affidavit, nomination can be rejected there  and  then.   In  other
         cases where detailed enquiry is needed, it would  depend  upon  the
         outcome thereof,  in  an  election  petition,  as  to  whether  the
         nomination was properly accepted or  it  was  a  case  of  improper
         acceptance.  Once it is found  that  it  was  a  case  of  improper
         acceptance, as there was misinformation or suppression of  material
         information, one can state that question of  rejection  in  such  a
         case was only deferred to a later date.  When the Court gives  such
         a finding, which would have resulted in rejection, the effect would
         be same, namely, such a candidate was not entitled to  contest  and
         the  election  is  void.   Otherwise,  it  would  be  an  anomalous
         situation that even when criminal proceedings under Section 125A of
         the Act can be initiated and the selected candidate  is  criminally
         prosecuted and convicted, but the result of his election cannot  be
         questioned.  This cannot be countenanced.

39.   The upshot of the aforesaid discussion  would  be  to  hold  that  the
         present appeal is totally devoid of any merits and is, accordingly,
         dismissed.


                                   …......................................J.
                                                     (Surinder Singh Nijjar)




                                   …......................................J.
                                                                (A.K. Sikri)
New Delhi;
May 09, 2014.

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