ELECTION IN DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY
The word has by long usage in connection with the process of selection of proper representatives in democratic institutions, acquired both a wide and a narrow meaning. In the narrow sense, it is used to mean the final selection of a candidate which may embrace the result of the poll when there is polling or a particular candidate being returned unopposed when there is no poll. In the wide sense, the word is used to connote the entire process culminating in a candidate being declared elected. In Sriniwasalu v. Kuppuswami, AIR (15) 1928 Mad. 253 at p. 255 the learned Judges of the Madras High Courts after examining the question, expressed the opinion that the term “election” may be taken to embrace the whole procedure whereby an “elected member” is returned, whether or not it be found necessary to take a poll. With this view, my brother, Mahajan J. expressed his agreement is Sat Narain v. Hunuman Parshad, AIR (33) 1946 Lah. 85; and I also find myself in agreement with it.
It seems to me that the word “election” has been used in Part XV of the Constitution in the wide sense, that is to say, to connote the entire procedure to be gone through to return a candidate to the legislature. The use of the expression “conduct of elections” in Art. 324 specifically points to the wide meaning, and that meaning can also be read consistently into the other provisions which occur in Par XV including Art. 329 (b). That the word “election” bears this wide meaning whenever we talk of elections in a democratic country, is borne out by the fact that in most of the books on the subject and in several cases dealing with the matter, one of the questions mooted is, when the election begins.
The subject is dealt with quite concisely in Halsbury’s Laws of England in the following passage see p. 237 of Halsbery’s Laws of England, Edn., 2, vol. 12 under the heading “Commencement of the Election.” “
“Although the first formal step in every election is the issue of the writ, the election is considered for some purposes to begin at an earlier date. It is a question of fact in each case when an election begins in such a way as to make the parties concerned responsible for breaches of election law, the test being whether the contest is ‘reasonably imminent’. Neither the issue of the writ nor the publication of the notice of election can be looked to as fixing the date when an election begins from this point of view. Nor, again, does the nomination day afford any criterion. The election will usually begin at least earlier than the issue of the writ. The question when the election begins must be carefully distinguished from that as to when ‘the conduct of management’ an election may be said to begin. Again, the question as to when a particular person commences to be a candidate is a question to be considered in each case.”
The discussion in this passage makes it clear that the word “election” can be and has been appropriately used with reference to the entire process which consists of several stages and embraces many steps, some of which may have an important bearing on the result of the process.
The next important question to be considered is what is meant by the words “no election shall be called in question.” A reference to any treatise on elections in England will show that an election proceeding in that country is liable to be assailed on very limited, grounds, one of them being the improper rejection of a nomination paper. The law with which we are concerned is not materially different, and we find that in S. 100 Representation of the People Act, 1951, one of the grounds for declaring an election to be void is the improper rejection of a nomination paper.
Quoted from: AIR 1952 SC 64 : (1952) SCR 218