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Limitation period from date of winner’s election

Thursday 28 December 2006

Legal Correspondent

It does not begin from declaration of results of other candidates

Cause of action arises as soon as result is declared Otherwise, starting point of limitation will become uncertain

New Delhi : The 45-day limit for filing a petition against a candidate declared elected unopposed to the Assembly or the Lok Sabha commences from the date of his election and not from the date of declaration of the results of all other candidates, the Supreme Court has held.

"Section 81 of the Representation of the People Act lays down the period of limitation. The first part of the Section provides that a petition calling into question any election could be filed by a candidate or an elector within 45 days from the date of election of the returned candidate," said a Bench, comprising Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal and Justices C.K. Thakker and R.V. Raveendran.

"The second part covers those cases where there are more than one returned candidate in the election and the dates of their elections are different. In such cases, the latter of the two dates would be the starting point of limitation for filing an election petition."

Writing the judgment, Justice Thakker said, the second part dealt with the election not to the Legislative Assembly or to the House of People (Lok Sabha) but to the Legislative Council of State or to the Council of States (Rajya Sabha). "That part speaks of more than one returned candidate, which is an eventuality only in the election to the Legislative Council of State or the Council of States where at a single election by the same electorate more than one candidate could be elected."

The Bench said if the limitation period was counted from the date of declaration of results as mentioned in the election notification and not from the specific date when a candidate was declared elected uncontested, it would make the starting point of limitation uncertain, indefinite and fluctuating.

"When a defeated candidate or an elector has a grievance against declaring a particular candidate successful, his cause of action arises as soon as such a declaration is made."

Appeals dismissed

The Bench was dismissing appeals filed by Youraj Rai and two others, whose nominations were rejected on April 24, 2004, leading to the unopposed election of three MLAs in the Sikkim Assembly polls.

The results of the other candidates were declared on May 17, 2004.

On June 25, the three candidates moved the Sikkim High Court, which, however, refused to entertain their election petitions on the ground of limitation. The present appeals were directed against this judgment.

See online : The Hindu

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