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Indian Case Summary

Kalyan Kumar Gogoi vs Ashutosh Agnihotri & Anr on 18 January, 2011 – Case Summary

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In the case of Kalyan Kumar Gogoi vs Ashutosh Agnihotri & Anr on 18 January, 2011, the Supreme Court of India was presented with an appeal filed under Section 116A of the Representation of People Act, 1951. The appellant, Kalyan Kumar Gogoi, contested the judgment rendered by the Gauhati High Court on August 28, 2007, in Election Petition No. 4 of 2006. The High Court had rejected Gogoi’s request to declare the election of the respondent No. 2, Ashutosh Agnihotri, void and to order a repoll in Polling Station No. 124 Manik Dutta L.P. School (Madhya) of 116 Dibrugarh Legislative Assembly Constituency.

Facts of the Case

The case arose from the Assam State Legislative Assembly Election for the 116 Dibrugarh Constituency. Both Gogoi and Agnihotri filed their nomination papers to contest the election, representing the Indian National Congress and the Bhartiya Janata Party, respectively. The polling took place on April 3, 2006, but Polling Station No. 124 was not set up in the notified school, Manik Dutta L.P. School (Madhya), as required. Instead, the polling was conducted in another school, Chiring Gaon Railway Colony L.P. School, which was not a notified polling station. Gogoi claimed that this caused confusion and chaos among voters, many of whom left without casting their votes. Despite this, Agnihotri was declared the winner, having polled 28,424 votes to Gogoi’s 28,249.

Issues Raised

Gogoi raised several issues, including the shifting of the polling station from the notified area, which he claimed was illegal and deprived many voters of their right to vote. He also complained about the manner in which the Electronic Voting Machines were shifted from Chiring Gaon Railway Colony L.P. School to Manik Dutta L.P. School (Madhya). In response, the Deputy Commissioner and District Election Officer, Dibrugarh, dismissed Gogoi’s complaint as an afterthought.

Court’s Observations

The Supreme Court agreed with the High Court’s finding that there had been a breach of the provisions of Sections 25 and 56 of the Act and Rule 15 of the Rules of 1961 due to the change of venue for casting votes. However, the Court emphasized that the election of a successful candidate should not be set aside unless there are cogent and convincing reasons. The Court noted that the burden of proof lies on the person objecting to the validity of the election, and that this burden must be discharged beyond reasonable doubt. The Court found that Gogoi had failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove that the result of the election had been materially affected by the polling station’s change of location.

The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the High Court’s judgment, dismissing Gogoi’s appeal and affirming Agnihotri’s election. The Court’s decision underscores the importance of strict adherence to election laws and procedures, while also emphasizing the high burden of proof required to overturn an election result.