Chief Minister Yediyurappa in trouble? Violation of the Election Code

Oct 21, 2020

On August 27, Thursday, the Bengaluru High Court Bench consisting of Justice Suraj Govindaraj issued a stay on the summons issued by Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) court in Gokak, Belagavi and reserved its order on the petition filed by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.

During the election campaign at Valmiki Stadium in Gokak for BJP Candidate Ramesh Jarkiholi  in bye-election November 2019, the petitioner BS Yediyurappa was alleged to have “ appealed that the Veerashaiva -lingayat community members’ vote shall be consolidated and they shall not disperse here and there….’’ Ramesh Jarkiholi was a former Congress minister who was subject to disqualification after defection during the Congress-JDS alliance. He later contested in the bye-polls for the Gokak constituency as a BJP Candidate and got elected.

The Flying Squad Officer Laxman Allapur filed a complaint against the petitioner for the content that was delivered by him in his speech with respect to the Lingayath community which amounts to 18 percent of the 7 Crore population of the state.The JMFC took cognizance of the offence as a violation of the election code.  A "B" report was also submitted to the Court by the officer in charge of investigation indicating inadequacy in the merits of the case. Still, the Court ordered for a criminal case to be registered under Representation of the People Act and Indian Penal Code 171F against the petitioner and also issued summons to the petitioner on June 26  which was due by September 1. 

The Judicial Magistrate First Class Court observed the following:

“The accused, in his speech on two occasions, appealed to the specific community but not to party workers for seeking votes in favour of the candidate….In the present case, the Court is very well convinced that there are sufficient materials in the 'B' final report to proceed against the accused and subject the accused of trial for the offence punishable under Section 123(3) of the Representation of People's Act ( which relates to corrupt practices) and 171(F) of the Indian Penal Code (Punishment for Undue influence or Personation at an election)”

BS Yedurappa had filed a petition in this regard to reject the filed complaint against him under Representation of People's Act and 171(F) of the Indian Penal Code and to quash the order of summons against him.

The High Court heard the arguments from both the sides and issued a stay on the summon issued by the JMFC and was due to give its order. The petition filed by BS Yedurappa contended that "the registration of FIR amounts to gross violation of the Rule of Law much less in gross violation to Section 155 of the Cr.P.C. Further, the Trial Court ought to have applied its mind at the time of taking cognizance by giving reasons for summoning the petitioner. In the absence of such mandatory compliance the proceedings before the Trial Court become unsustainable and in the absence of there being a set of facts to constitute the commission of the offences, the lodging of the complaint and continuation of the criminal proceeding under it, would amount to gross abuse of process of Court and law."

The complaint on a simple reading conveyed that it lacked solid evidence, is drawn on assumptions and lacked authenticity. Thus on September 12, the High Court gave out its order and quashed the cognizance order issued by the Gokak Court against BS Yediyurappa and held that "a magistrate cannot suo moto reject the 'B' report without notice being ordered on the complainant, Flying Squad officer, in this case, Rejecting a ‘B’ report without anyone objecting is neither contemplated nor sanctioned under the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code,”

The Bench also noted that to be liable under Section 125 of The Representation Of People’s Act there was an essential condition to prove promotion of enmity or hatred which was not done in the case and hence such order was quashed.