The Madras High Court has dismissed an application seeking to recall a witness and mark certain documents in the election case against former Union Fertilisers and Chemicals Minister M.K. Alagiri.
The petition was filed by A. Lazar who had challenged Mr. Alagiri’s election from the Madurai Lok Sabha constituency in the 2009 polls.
Originally, the defeated CPI (M) candidate, P. Mohan, filed a petition challenging the election of Mr. Alagiri of the DMK. Subsequently, he died. Mr. Mohan was substituted in the election petition by Mr. Lazar, the CPI (M)’s alternative candidate, who also submitted his nomination and withdrew it later.
Mr. Lazar submitted that the Returning Officer (RO) had investigated complaints of distribution of money in covers while performing ‘harathi’ to Mr. Alagiri, distribution and seizure of saris. Certain documents were vital for proper adjudication of the election petition. They were available only with the RO.
Unless the same were marked as evidence, the court would not be able to get to the bottom of the case. Hence, the present application.
Mr.Alagiri countered that there was no legal provision to recall a court witness after the chief and cross-examination of all witnesses had been over.
Mr.Lazar had the opportunity to mark all the documents when the RO was in court.
Justice V.Dhanapalan said the cardinal principle under the Code of Civil Procedure for recalling a witness had been interpreted by the Supreme Court many times. In the present case, the evidence of both sides had been concluded and at this stage, the application had been filed. As per the Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1951, every election petition should be tried as expeditiously as possible and endeavour should be made to conclude the trial within six months from the date on which the election petition was presented to the High Court for trial.
The court had made all endeavour to dispose of the matter at the earliest, by granting necessary periodical adjournments for reasons recorded, and had brought the election petition to the final stage of trial. If the present application is allowed, it will defeat the scheme and object of RPA and the principle enunciated by the Supreme Court in a catena of decisions.
Moreover, Mr.Alagiri was ready to proceed with and conclude the matter. When that be so, it was unfortunate for the election petitioner to file an application to reopen evidence.
The application could not be maintained at this belated stage of conclusion of trial, Justice Dhanapalan said.