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The Supreme Court in its judgment dated 09.04.2024 setting aside the Judgment and Order passed by the Itanagar Bench of the High Court of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh allowed the Civil Appeal No. 4615 of 2023 filed by Karikho Kri. 

In 2019, Karikho Kri, an independent candidate, Dr. Mohesh Chai, a candidate for the BJP, and Nuney Tayang, a candidate for the INC contested the election to the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly. On 11.04.2019, the election was held. Karikho Kri received 7538 votes, Dr. Mohesh Chai received 7383 votes, and Nuney Tayang received 1088 votes. Nuney Tayang challenged the election of Karikho Kri in the Itanagar Bench of the High Court of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. He filed a petition arguing that Kri’s election should be void based on grounds mentioned in Sections 100(1)(b), 100(1)(d)(i) and 100(1)(d)(iv) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. He also wanted the court to declare him the duly elected from the constituency.

A learned Judge of the High Court granted the election petition on 17.07.2023, ruling that Karikho Kri’s election was invalid under Sections 100(1)(b), 100(1)(d)(i), and 100(1)(d)(iv) of the Act of 1951. However, the prayer of Nuney Tayang to declare him duly elected was denied because he had not produced any evidence to support the accusations, he made against Dr. Mohesh Chai, the candidate with the second-highest number of votes. Appeals were filed before the Supreme Court by Karikho Kri and Nuney Tayang under Section 116A of the Act of 1951. The High Court found that Karikho Kri had engaged in “corrupt practices” by failing to disclose the three vehicles that were still registered in the names of his dependent family members, in addition to violating Sections 100(1)(d)(i) and (iv) of the Act of 1951. The High Court held that Section 123(2) of the Act of 1951 was violated by not disclosing some cars that belonged to Karikho Kri’s dependents. 

The Supreme Court stated that a candidate does not have to declare every piece of movable property that he or his dependent family members own unless it is valuable enough to be considered a significant asset in and of itself or unless it would materially affect his candidature in terms of his lifestyle and would need to be disclosed. In an appeal filed by Karikho Kri, an Arunachal Pradesh candidate for election, the court noted that failing to disclose all of a candidate’s assets would not constitute a material defect. Additionally, the Court ruled that the Voter’s “Right to Privacy” would remain intact in regards to matters that are either unimportant to the Voter or unrelated to his candidacy for public office. 

In accordance with Section 100(1)(d)(iv) of the Representation of the People Act (ROPA), the High Court declared Karikho Kri’s election unlawful. The Supreme Court, criticized the lack of discussion on the violations that warranted such action and their impact on how they affected the outcome of the election. It was emphasized that establishing non-compliance should include demonstrating its material effect on the election result. In reference to the automobiles registered under his family’s name, the Court declared that the sale or gift transaction remains lawful despite the simple inability to update ownership. It maintained that the non-disclosure of the automobiles did not amount to corrupt practices or undue influence because they were transferred before to Karikho Kri’s nomination. The Court affirmed Karikho Kri’s election from the 44 Tezu Assembly Constituency in Arunachal Pradesh, ruling that the High Court’s decision was erroneous.

The Division Bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sanjay Kumar observed that the Civil Appeal filed by Karikho Kri is allowed, setting aside the Judgment and Order dated 17.07.2023 passed by the Itanagar Bench of the High Court of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh in Election Petition No.01(AP) of 2019. In consequence, the election of Karikho Kri from 44 Tezu (ST) Assembly Constituency was upheld.

Case Name: Karikho Kri (Appellant) v. Nuney Tayang and Anr (Respondents), Civil Appeal No. 4615 of 2023.



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