Karnataka High Court Dismisses Election Petition Alleging Corrupt Practice

Karnataka HC dismisses B Lakshmidevi's petition vs. Rizwan Arshad, ruling Indian National Congress manifesto promises not corrupt practices.

In a recent ruling, the Karnataka High Court has dismissed an election petition filed by a voter in the Shivajinagar Assembly Constituency. The petitioner, B Lakshmidevi, sought to declare the election of Rizwan Arshad as a Member of the Legislative Assembly void, alleging indulgence in corrupt practices.

The single judge bench, presided over by Justice S Vishwajith Shetty, ruled on the matter. Justice Shetty stated, "Since for the purpose of Section 123 of the Act, the promise or assurance should be made by the candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of the candidate or his election agent, in the absence of any material which would prima facie show that the five guarantees or promises published in the election manifesto by the political party, of which the respondent was a candidate in the assembly election, was published with the consent of the respondent or his election agent, the allegations cannot be termed to be corrupt practice for the purpose of the Act."

The petitioner alleged that promises made by the Indian National Congress in its manifesto amounted to corrupt practices under Section 123(2) of the Representation of Peoples Act, equating to bribery and undue influence.

However, the respondent, Rizwan Arshad, countered the plea by stating that there was no substantiation for such allegations. It was argued that promises made in the election manifesto do not constitute corrupt practices by an individual candidate. The respondent cited the Supreme Court judgment in the case of S. Subramaniam Balaji v. State of Tamil Nadu & Others (2013) to support this argument.

Moreover, the respondent contended that no personal guarantees or assurances were made, and all the promised schemes had been implemented in the State.

The court, in its deliberation, referred to the contents of the election petition and emphasized the need for material evidence to support allegations. Citing the Supreme Court's decision in S. Subramaniam Balaji's case, the court reiterated that publication in an election manifesto by a political party does not constitute corrupt practice under Section 123 of the Act.

Furthermore, the court rejected the petitioner's argument regarding the applicability of the S. Subramaniam Balaji case, citing the principle that earlier judgments take precedence in the face of conflicting decisions.

Senior Advocate Pramila Nesargi appeared for the petitioner, while Senior Advocate K.N Phanindra represented the respondent.

In conclusion, the court dismissed the petition, finding no grounds to declare the election void.