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Indian Case Summary

Abhiram Singh vs C.D. Commachen (Dead) By Lrs.& Ors on 2 January, 2017 – Case Summary

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In the case of Abhiram Singh vs C.D. Commachen (Dead) By Lrs. & Ors on 2 January, 2017, the Supreme Court of India was called upon to interpret Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The case was presided over by a bench consisting of T.S. Thakur, Madan B. Lokur, and S.A. Bobde.

Facts of the Case

The case originated from the 1990 election of Abhiram Singh to the No. 40, Santa Cruz Legislative Assembly Constituency for the Maharashtra State Assembly. The election was challenged by Commachen in the Bombay High Court on the grounds of corrupt practices under sub-sections (3) or (3A) of Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The Bombay High Court ruled in favor of Commachen, leading to an appeal by Abhiram Singh in the Supreme Court.

Issues

The primary issue in this case was the interpretation of Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The Supreme Court was tasked with determining the content, scope, and what constitutes a corrupt practice under this section. The interpretation of this section has been a subject of debate in previous cases, leading to a need for a clear and authoritative interpretation to avoid a miscarriage of justice.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that there had been varying interpretations of Section 123(3) in previous cases. Some cases had given a narrow interpretation, limiting the scope to an appeal on the ground of the religion of the candidate. Other cases had given a broader interpretation, suggesting that any appeal to religion, race, caste, community, or language would void the election of the candidate committing the corrupt practice.

The court also noted the legislative history of Section 123(3), observing that the provision had been amended several times to curb communal and separatist tendencies in the country and to widen the scope of what constitutes a corrupt practice.

The court concluded that the interpretation of Section 123(3) was a significant issue that required a larger bench of seven judges for a definitive interpretation. The case was therefore referred to a larger bench for further consideration.

The case of Abhiram Singh vs C.D. Commachen (Dead) By Lrs. & Ors is significant as it highlights the ongoing debate over the interpretation of Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The case underscores the need for a clear and authoritative interpretation of this provision to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and to curb communal and separatist tendencies in the country.