In a recent court decision, the Karnataka High Court invalidated the 2019 election victory of Janata Dal (Secular) Member of Parliament Prajwal Revanna from the Hassan constituency in a case involving A. Manju vs. Prajwal Revanna, also known as Prakwal R.
Justice K. Natarajan found Prajwal guilty of corrupt practices, including hiding important information, providing incorrect property values, dodging taxes, using proxy votes, spending excessively beyond the Election Commission of India’s limits, and accepting his nomination papers improperly.
The court firmly stated that Prajwal’s nomination acceptance was not just wrong but also illegal. According to election rules, candidates must be transparent about their income, assets, and liabilities. Unfortunately, Prajwal failed to do so, deceiving the voters.
Additionally, the court sent a notice to Prajwal’s father, HD Revanna, who was the in-charge Minister of Hassan district and also the Public Works Department minister. Prajwal’s brother, Suraj Revanna, also received a notice. They were asked to explain why they shouldn’t be held accountable under Section 99(a)(ii) of the Representation of the People Act for their involvement in corrupt practices that aided Prajwal’s election.
HD Revanna, a sitting Member of Legislative Assembly in the state, is the son of former Prime Minister of India, HD Deve Gowda.
On a different note, the court decided not to declare A. Manju, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate who had filed the petition against Prajwal and was also the defeated candidate, as the rightful winner of the constituency. The court found evidence of Manju’s own corrupt practices.
It’s worth mentioning that Manju later joined the JDS and became a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Arakalgud on their ticket. The court commented, “Someone with his history can’t legally claim the title of elected Member of Parliament for the Hassan constituency. Given A. Manju’s involvement in corrupt practices, he’s not a deserving candidate to be declared the winner, as per either Section 98(c) or 101 of the RP Act.”
Regarding “Corrupt Practices,” the court concluded that Prajwal had given false information and inaccurately reported the value of properties in his Form No. 26 affidavit. The court also found that the JD(S) candidate had made a wrong declaration about loans in column no. 8 of his nomination papers.
On the issue of Prajwal’s father, HD Revanna, allegedly diverting funds meant for development works related to the Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited (CNNL), the court determined that Prajwal had influenced voters through these actions.
When addressing another accusation against Prajwal, the court said that it should be assumed that the ₹1,20,000 sent by him through his brother, Dr. Suraj Revanna, was meant for distribution among voters. Even though there were rules against it due to the Model Code of Conduct for Elections, the court found it unacceptable for the respondent’s family to carry such a sum for grocery shopping. Thus, the petitioner successfully proved Prajwal’s corrupt practices in that election.
Concerning Prajwal’s election pledge to the Veerashaiva Community, promising to build a Samudaya Bhavana for them in exchange for votes, the court found this to be in violation of Section 123(3) of the Representation of People Act, which prohibits appeals based on religion.
The court also discovered that government vehicles were used to transport election pamphlets without prior permission. This was considered a corrupt practice under Section 123(5) of the RP Act.
In a significant observation, the court expressed disappointment that Prajwal’s family had stayed at the polling booth for extended periods. The court found it unfortunate that officials were too afraid of Prajwal’s father and the ruling party to ask them to leave.
Notably, Senior Advocate S. Sreevatsa and advocates M.R. Vijayakumar and Sunil M.V. represented petitioner A. Manju, while Senior Advocate Uday Holla and advocate M. Keshava Reddy represented respondent Prajwal Revanna.