Shimla: An election petition of former speaker Gangu Ram Musafir that had sought to challenge Suresh Kashyap election for having adopted corrupt practices was dismissed with costs by the High Court for lack of reliable and trustworthy documentary evidence.
During hearing of the election petition, the court on 1 July, 2013 had framed the issues as to whether Kashyap, who belongs to Koli caste, had appealed to the voters on his caste and in case he had done so, was he guilty of exercising undue influence on voters, which is a corrupt practice under Representation of People Act, 1951.
After examining all the material evidence and witnesses, Justice VK Sharma observed that onus to prove the issues framed were on Musafair, who had petitioned the court.
Having cited election meetings addressed by senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and then party president Rajanath Singh, where the alleged appeal for votes on caste lines was made, the judge observed, “it can be reasonably inferred that both these meetings must have been covered by print and electronic media, media officials of election commission, CID and IB etc.
“However, neither any news clipping nor any documentary evidence such as video CD has been produced to lend credence to the allegations leveled,” the judges order records.
Before dismissing the plea, the judge also noted, “according to the petitioner, the information regarding canvassing for votes by respondent (Kashyap) on caste lines during the aforesaid meetings and campaigns was given to him by ‘my voters, supporters and sympathizers belonging to those areas”, meaning thereby that the witnesses examined by him fall within the category of interested witnesses.”
The judge recorded, “neither any independent witness has been cited nor examined.”
After inferring “in absence of any cogent, reliable and trustworthy documentary or physical evidence, the oral evidence compromising of depositions of mostly interested witnesses cannot be safely relied upon to annul the verdict given by the electorate,” Justice Sharma concluded, “it is not proved that respondent (Kashyap), who belongs to Koli caste had appealed to the voters of his cast for furtherance of his prospects in the election.”
The petition was dismissed with a cost of Rs 25,000 on the former speaker, payable to the Suresh Kashyap.
Musafir a veteran congress leader, who had convincingly won every election from Pacchad assembly segment in Sirmaur district since 1982 lost out to Kashyap in the December 2012 poll. In the 2003-08, Musafir was the speaker of HP Assembly.