Mairembam Prithviraj v. Pukhrem Sharatchandra Singh, (2017) 2 SCC 487
Both the appellant and defendant had contested the Manipur Legislative Assembly elections from the Moirang constituency in 2012 polls. The appellant, who contested on a Nationalist Congress Party ticket, won the election. However, it was declared void by the High Court of Manipur, which was challenged before the Supreme Court.
The court considered the question that whether it was necessary to plead and prove that the result was materially affected when the nomination of the returned candidate was found to have been improperly accepted, moreover, when there are only two candidates contesting the election.
The appellant had, in his nomination papers, declared that he was a Masters in Business Administration from Mysore University. Punkhrem Sharatchandra, the defendant, filed an election petition before the Guwahati high Court, stating that the appellant had falsely claimed that he was an MBA and moreover the same declaration was made by the appellant in 2008 assembly as well. The appellant however stated that it was a mere “clerical error”.
A bench consisting of Justices A R Dave and L Nageswara Rao stated that Every voter has a fundamental right to know the educational qualification of a candidate contesting elections. The provisions of the Representation of the People Act 1951, Rules and Form 26 casts a duty on the candidates to give correct information about their educational qualifications. The court stated that even if there are only two candidates contesting and it is proved that one of the candidate’s nomination papers have been “improperly accepted”, then the one who has lost the poll doesn’t need to produce prove that the election has been materially affected. The appellant’s plea that it was a “clerical error” cannot be accepted as it wasn’t committed once but he has been making the statement that he has an MBA degree, since 2008. The bench also allowed the plea of the defendant that now he should be declared the winner as the election of the other candidate has been declared void.
It is the fundamental right of the voters to know the academic qualification of a candidate contesting elections and any false declaration on this count could lead to rejection of nomination papers.