Supreme Court Restores 2019 Election Of BJP Arunachal Pradesh Legislator Dasamglu Pul To The State Assembly
The Supreme Court restored the 2019 election of Arunachal Pradesh legislator Dasanglu Pul (Widow of the Former Chief Minister Kalikho Pul) to the State Legislative Assembly.
The Court allowed the Appeal against the judgment of the High Court, whereby the Court had set aside the election results. The Bench observed that the properties disclosed in the nomination papers belonged to the Appellant and the other disputed properties belonged to the First Wife of the Appellant’s Husband.
The Bench comprising Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice P.S. Narasimha observed, “As noted, we have indicated that the contention of the respondent in the present facts that it would amount to non-disclosure and therefore a defect of substantial character cannot be accepted and since in that circumstance it is not a case of improperly accepted nomination, it certainly has not materially affected the result of the election as contemplated in Section 100(1)(d)(i) (iv) of the RP Act, 1951”.
Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta appeared for the Appellant and Senior Advocate Santosh Paul appeared for the Respondent.
The Appellant’s husband belonged to the Mishmi tribe and was a member of the Legislative Assembly. Per the customs of the Tribe, the Appellant was the third wife and she contested the elections after the death of her husband. She filed for the elections again and enclosed her nomination paper with an affidavit under Form 36 of Rule 4A of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 (CE Rules). The Respondent also filed his nomination and challenged the Appellant’s nomination alleging that there was a substantial defect in her application. The Respondent contended that the nondisclosure of the properties belonging to her spouse amounts to defects of substantial character and as such the nomination was liable to be rejected.
The Appellant approached the Court by way of a Civil Appeal challenging the judgment and order of the High Court, whereby the Court held that the Appellant (a returned candidate) had not presented her nomination paper following Section 33 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act) and therefore the nomination papers were rejected. The High Court had declared the elections, which occurred after the acceptance of the nomination papers, as void.
The Court noted that the legal heir certificate by itself cannot be construed as a document of title to the property but can be used as a mode to determine the heirship based on which the consequential actions would follow. The Appellant in her evidence has specifically disclosed the reason for which she had challenged the legal heir certificate. The Bench noted that the property the Appellant was claiming was specifically left to her by her husband. The remaining properties belonged to the First Wife of the Husband.
“It is no doubt true that much has been made about the challenge raised by the appellant to the legal heir certificate dated 04.05.2017 issued in favour of the first wife which had been set aside as on the date of filing the nomination on 22.03.2019. Apart from the fact as already indicated, the dispute was still at large before the forum to which it was remitted, in any event, legal heir certificate by itself cannot be construed as a document of title to the property. It is a mode to determine the heirship based on which the consequential actions would follow. The appellant in her evidence has specifically disclosed the reason for which she had challenged the legal heir certificate”, the Bench noted.
The Court, after careful examination of the facts and the circumstances, held that the disclosure of the said properties indicated that the properties belonging to the spouse would not arise as the spouse was not alive and succession had opened. Hence, the Bench held that such cannot be construed as a substantial character defect and had certainly not materially affected the result of the Election.
The Bench noted, “A perusal of the above extracted portion of the deposition would indicate that the appellant was claiming her right to Plot No.230 situate at Tezu township since her late husband had made it clear that the said plot is meant for the appellant. The challenge was therefore raised as a pressure tactics to secure the documents of the said property from Smt. Dangwimsai Pul i.e., the first wife. Therefore, it was her clear understanding that the remaining properties will belong to the first wife of Late Khaliko Pul and her entitlement was to Plot No.230 mentioned above”.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the Appeal and set aside the impugned judgment and order.
Cause Title: Dasanglu Pul v Lupalum Kri (2023 INSC 930)