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Nomination Disclosure Controversy: Supreme Court Validates Mla Karikho Kri’s Election As It Was Not Adversely Affected By The Nondisclosure Of The Assets Of The Candidate

saksham bharadwaj ,
  15 April 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
The Supreme Court Of India
Brief :

Citation :
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4716 OF 2023

Case title:  

Karikho Kri vs Nuney Tayang and Another.

Date of Order:

April 9, 2024; New Delhi.

Bench:

Hon’ble Justice Aniruddha Bose; Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kumar 

Parties:

Appellant: Karikho Kri.

Respondents: Nuney Tayang and another.

Subject:  The case revolves around the elections conducted for the Legislative Assembly of Arunachal Pradesh, in which Karikho Kri(appellant) emerged victorious, but his victory was challenged by Nuney Tayang (respondent) alleging nondisclosure of required documents which allegedly caused discrepancies. The High Court invalidated the appellant's election which was overturned by the Supreme Court and held that the election of Karikho Kri was valid and minor discrepancies should not invalidate the election of a candidate. It also emphasized the transparency/fairness with the voters along with complying with the norms making this a landmark judgement.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

 Representations of People Act,1951 [SECTIONS]

  • 100(1)(b) any malpractice that may be committed by the returned candidate or on his behalf by his election agent or by any third person by the consent of the returned candidate may declare the elections void.
  • 100(1)(d)(i) - deals with any improperly done acceptance or a nomination may declare the elections void.
  • 100(1)(d)(iv) - deals with anything that does not comply with the provisions mentioned in the Constitution or this Act would declare the elections as void.
  • 123(2) - deals with the indulgence in malpractices such as undue-influence.
  • 33 - deals with the presenting of the papers of nomination and the requisite requirements for making a valid nomination.
  • 36 - deals with the scrutiny of nominations that happens and also empowers the Returning Officer to examine the papers and make all the objections for the same.

OVERVIEW(Brief Facts)

●    The case of Kariko Kari vs Nuney Tayang and another revolved around the interwoven intricacies of elections held in the State of Arunachal Pradesh, where elections were held for the Legislative Assembly from the Assembly Constituency (44) Tezu (ST).

●    In these elections, dating back to 11.04.2019 Karikho Kri emerged as the winner with 7538 votes, due to this another candidate Nuney Tayang from the Indian National Congress, filed a petition challenging the elections as well as the election of the appellant, Karikho Kri.

●    The election was challenged on the grounds that the appellant did not disclose particular materials (dues pertaining to electricity charges, assets belonging to his wife and his sons, etc.)

●    The High Court considered this petition and the election of Karikho was declared void according to the various sections of the Representations of People Act,1951.

●    Simultaneously, Nuney pleaded to the High Court to declare him as the duly elected candidate for the held elections after Karikho was convicted, but his plea was rejected as he did not have any substantial evidence to prove how he levelled the number of votes that Dr. Mohesh Chai secured who was the candidate with the second highest number of votes in the election.

●    Troubled by the decision of the High Court, Karikho filed a civil appeal in the Apex court, while another cross-appeal was filed by Nuney Tayang for the same. 

●    The Supreme Court analysed the provisions of the Representations of People Act along with the Election Rules 1961 and gave the judgement as given below.

 ISSUES RAISED

The core issues that were raised in this case were related to:

  • Whether the nondisclosure of the ownership of motor vehicles in the affidavit of nomination could render the nomination of the candidate invalid?
  • Whether nondisclosure of movable and immovable properties belonging to Karikho and his family members would amount to indulging in corrupt practices of undue influence under Section 123(2) of the Act?
  • Lastly, whether the statements previously mentioned by the returned candidate about the liability of himself and his family with respect to the possession of property and regarding the payment of its taxes be grounds to invalidate the candidate?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT

  • The set of arguments Kariko Kri in this case were primarily focussed on challenging the High Court’s decision which declared the elections held in Arunachal Pradesh as void for which Karikho was the declared winner.
  • It was argued the sections that were referred to in the Representations of People Act were invalid as possession of different materials such as ownership of vehicles, nondisclosure of assets (movable and immovable) and dues of electricity bills did not directly warrant any offense or invalidation of his conducted elections 
  • Further, it was submitted after vacating the government property after his removal from his post as MLA (2009-2014) he submitted a ‘No Dues Certificate’ for the electricity bills i.e. all the dues were cleared as he vacated the property. It was claimed that since he did not reside in that property any longer, he did not have any outstanding dues and a legal obligation to pay the speculated dues.
  • It was argued that Karikho had acknowledged disclosing the dues of property and property taxes in one segment of an affidavit that was in form 26 but eventually failed to mention it in the other part of the affidavit.
  • It was contested that the allegations stemmed merely from the non-disclosure of the assets possessed by Karikho and his family members which included his wife along with his and his two sons who were mentioned in the affidavit.
  • The High Court held that in accordance with section 123(2), failure to disclose the requisite documents may constitute corrupt practices. This was challenged by the appellant.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT

  • The arguments made by Nuney Tayang claimed that Karikho Kri did not disclose any material properties or particulars in his affidavit which was filed in Form number 26.  and referred to the conduct of the rules of the elections (Election Rules, 1961) which was regarding the ownership of the four kinds of vehicles owned by the other party and his family members due to which the High court also intervened and held it against Kharikho due to his failure in disclosing three out of four vehicles, which were supposedly registered in the name of his wife and sons and were still registered then under their names.
  • Nuney Tayang claimed that the appellant did not submit the 'No Dues Certificate’ for the electricity bills.
  • It was also pointed out that the appellant failed to disclose his and his partner’s liability about the possession of the properties and its taxes in one part of the affidavit in Form 26 but did not mention it in the other part. Apart from this, it was argued that the appellant’s and his family’s assets (movable and immovable) were not disclosed in Form 26 constituted to be a corrupt practice under the ambit of section 123(2)of the Representations of Peoples Act, which eventually favoured the respondent to an extent.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS 

  • The Supreme Court while re-analysing the sections Representations of People Act,1951 and the Election Rules,1961 overturned the decision of the High Court declaring that for nondisclosure of assets such as ownership of vehicles or related to the transfer of ownership of vehicles, non-submission of dues certificate or other minor discrepancies may not be the grounds to reject one’s victory in the elections. 
  • Also, it was pressed that voters do have a right to have information about their candidate, however, candidates are not legally bound to disclose every asset in their possession as it may infringe on their right to privacy. 
  • The Supreme Court laid down that for the elections to be declared void in the above-mentioned sections, the elections must have been adversely affected by the nondisclosure of the assets of the appellant, which could not be proved in this case.
  • Eventually, the Supreme Court held that there was no substantial proof or grounds that could have invalidated the election/nomination of Karikho. Hence, the civil appeal by Karikho Kri was eventually allowed and that of Nuney Tayang was dismissed.
  • The Court informed the Election Commission along with the Legislative Assembly’s Chairman of Arunachal Pradesh.

CONCLUSION

Ultimately, the judgement served as an integral part in reminding the crucial importance of compliance and strict adherence to nomination or election formalities and the need for transparency for the clarity in the materialistic evidence whilst challenging the validity of the election and rest. The main emphasis was laid on various grounds such as minor discrepancies that may not have a direct involvement in the case and may not be considered as a stance to reject one’s victory in the elections
 

 
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