SC Issues Notice on Plea Against Bombay HC Decision to Strike out Allegations in Election Plea

Khushi Bajpai

Published on: 19th September, 2022 at 20:20 IST

A division bench of the Supreme Court of India on Friday (September 16) issued notice on a special leave petition challenging the decision of the Bombay High Court to strike down a slew of submissions and allegations made in an election petition filed against Union Minister Nitin Jairam Gadkari.

The Nagpur bench of the High Court, while refusing to quash the election petition disputing Gadkari’s election of the Lok Sabha from the Nagpur constituency in 2019, had partly allowed an application under Order VI rule of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1908 and struck down the pleadings raised in several paragraphs of the petitions with respect to the income earned by the family members of the minister and land owned by them.

There were also allegations regarding the expenditure made during the 2019 general elections. Aggrieved by the HC decisions, the petitioner, one Mohammed Nafis Khan, approached the apex court.

A single judge bench of Justice A.S. Chandurkur, observed that two points in Khan’s prayer with regard to the land solely owned by Gadkari and the declaration of agriculture as his source of income had “disclosed material facts and necessary cause of action.” Therefore, he refused to quash the election petition. The court held:

“As a result of this adjudication the prayer made in civil application No. 12/2021 seeking rejection of the election petition cannot be granted.”

However, Justice Chandurkur proceeded to strike down other prayers in the petition, partly allowing an application moved by Gadkari under Order VI Rule 16 of the code of civil procedure, 1908.

The provision’s permits the court, at any stage of the proceedings, to strike out any matter in the pleadings which may be “unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous, vexatious or prejudicial or otherwise appears to be an abuse of the process of the court.

The court held-

“The election petition consequently would proceed for trail on the basis of the averments that remain after the paragraphs as directed to be struck off are so struck off,”

On whether the pleadings that were purged by the high court had disclosed a “reasonable cause of action”, the petitioner relying on Mohan Rawale v. Domodar Tatyaba, urged that as long as the claim disclosed some cause of action or raised some questions fit to be decided by a judge, the mere fact that the case was weak and not likely to succeed was no ground for striking it out.

Further, the petition claimed that the single judge had failed to read the pleadings as a whole to ascertain the true import of the allegations, and such had deviated from settled principles.

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