Amolakchand Chhazed v. Bhagwandas Arya & Ors.

In this 5-minute read, you will learn how the rival candidate in elections filed a fabricated election petition alleging corrupt practises on the part of winning candidate and the Supreme Court correctly identified the frivolous petition.
CITATIONAIR 1977 SC 813
COURTSupreme Court of India
JUDGES/CORAMJustice A.C. Gupta, Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice S. MurtazaFazal Ali
DATE OF JUDGEMENT17.11.1976

Introduction

Election petitions alleging corrupt practices have become very common in India. These corrupt practices range from appealing to religious sentiments to buying votes to defaming the opposing candidates. The election petitions are proceedings of a quasi-criminal nature because of the laws that have been formed to curb corrupt practices, which are rampant during elections. The onus is on the person who challenges the election to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. The present case was an election petition on the ground of defamation of the other contesting candidate by the successful candidate.

Facts

The facts of the case are as follows: The appellant, Amolakchand Chhazed, was elected to Barwaha Assembly of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly Polls took place on March 8, 1972, and in results on March 12, the appellant won against the only contestant, who was one of the respondents- Vimalehand Jain. One voter from the Barwaha constituency, Bhagwan Das, filed an election petition before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh praying for declaration of appellant’s election as void on the ground of corrupt practices.

When the case reached the Supreme Court by way of appeal, the Court upheld the election of Amolakchand as no sufficient evidence could be gathered regarding his alleged corrupt practises.

Issues

The main issue to be decided in the present case was: Whether or not Amolakchand Chazzed engaged in corrupt practises days before his election.

Contentions from both sides

The petitioners-respondents contended that:

  1. The appellant and his men, at the former’s instance and in his presence, distributed in different villages in the constituency, a leaflet and copies of a weekly paper named PRACHAND containing statements regarding the personal character and conduct of the respondent which the appellant knew to be false and did not believe to be true.
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The appellant on the other hand claimed that:

  1. He did not either himself or by his workers distribute any of the two documents anywhere; and,
  2. After his defeat, the respondent himself got those leaflets and documents printed and set up a false story to have the election set aside.         

Summary of court decisions and judgment

After the elections, an election petition was presented before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, by one Bhagwan Das alleging that the appellant’s election was invalid due to corrupt election practises. The High Court allowed the petition and set aside the appellant’s election after considering the allegations and witnesses presented before the Court. 

In an appeal before the Supreme Court, the Court could not find enough evidence and credible testimonies to set aside the appellant’s election. Thus, the three-judge bench of the Court set aside the High Court’s judgement and upheld the appellant’s election to Barwaha constituency.

Analysis

It is very well settled that the Supreme Court does not disturb in appeal, the findings of fact recorded by the High Court in election cases except for strong and cogent reasons. However, if these findings have been arrived at disregarding well-settled principles governing theapproach to the evidence on record, this Court must come to its own conclusion on the evidence.       

To arrive at its judgement in the present case, the Supreme Court heard numerous witnesses who were the residents of the villages where the documents were alleged to be distributed. A number of witnesses were associated with either parties of the appellant and respondent, and hence were not as credible as the independent witnesses who were not associated with any of the political parties.

Furthermore, there were numerous contradictions among the respondents’ themselves which affected the credibility of their petition. Thus, the Court could not find any sufficient or convincing evidence. Hence, the High Court’s decision was overruled by the Apex Court.

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Conclusion

The Supreme Court held correctly in over-turning the High Court’s decision. There have been numerous such instances where in a bid to outdo their rivals during and after elections, candidates engage in filing false and fabricated election petitions. A law needs to be legislated by the Parliament to curb such frivolous election petitions on due investigation and examination by the Apex Court.