1. These two petitions have been filed by the two petitioners praying for a writ in the nature of quo warranto against the respondent No. 1 who is holding the office of president of the Zilla Parishad, Nagpur, having been elected to that office on 12-8-1972 Petitioner Shankarrao in Special Civil Application No. 1050 of 1972 had contested the election as a Councilor of the Zilla Parishad, Nagpur from Kelod constituency in Saoner tahsil but was defeated Petitioner Shawn Domaji in Special Civil Application No. 1051 of 1972 admittedly is a voter from the Bamni Constituency, and both these petitioners claim that they are vitally interested in the affairs of the Zilla Parishad and are entitled to show that the respondent is illegally holding the office of President of the Zilla Parishad, Nagpur. So far as respondent No. 1, Chhatrapal Anandrao Kedar is concerned, it is not in dispute that he was elected as the President of Zilla Parishad at the first statutory meeting of the Zilla Parishad held on 14-8-1962. He was, however, unsuccessful at the next election as a Councilor held on 27-5-1967 for the second terms 1967-72. The first statutory metting of the second term was held on 12-08-1967, and one Baliram Damusan Dakhane was elected as the President of the Zilla Parishad fro that term. However, a bye-election came to the be held from Vhirgaon constituency in Nagpur, Tahsil as a result of the resignation of councilor by name Nilkanth Nandurkar. At this bye-election the respondent No. 1 as a Councilor, Dakhane, who was then the President of the Zilla Parishad resigned his office, and at a meeting held on 21-6-1968 to elect a president of the Zilla Parishad in the vacancy caused as a result of the resignation of Dakhane, the respondent No. 1 was again elected as the president having defeated petitioner Shankarrao, and the respondent No. 1 thus became the president for the rest of the period. Fresh elections were again held for the third term and the respondent No. 1 was again elected as a Councilor on 27-5-1972. He was also re-elected as the President of the Zilla parishad on 12-8-1972. These facts are not in dispute.
2. The contention of both the petitioner in these petitions is that in view of the proviso to Section 42 of the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act. 1961 (hereinafter refereed to as the Act), the respondent No. 1 was not eligible for being elected as President because he had held the office for two consecutive terms. The question which, therefore, falls for consideration is whether the petitioner who was the President of the Zilla Parishad for the whole of the term 14-8-1962 to 12-8-1967 and a part of the second term from 21-6-1968 to 12-8-1972 can be said to have become ineligible for election as president as contemplated by the proviso to Section 42 of the Act.
Section 42 reads as follows:
'Every Zilla Parishad shall be presided over by a President who shall be elected by the Parishad from amongst its elected Councilors. The Zilla Parisad shall also elect one of its elected councilors to be the Vice-President.
Provided that, no Councilor shall be eligible for being elected as President or Vice-President if he has held any such office for two consecutive terms:
Provided further that if a Chairman or Deputy Chairman of a Panchayat Samiti is elected as president or Vice-President, the office of the Chairman or as the case may be, of the Deputy Chairman shall, on the date on which he is so elected, become vacant.'
We are not concerned with the second proviso. Diverse constructions are placed on the first proviso to Section 42 which alone is material for the purposes of the present petition. There are four constructions which are canvassed before us. On behalf of petitioner Shankarrao, Mr. Bobde learned counsel appearing on his behalf, contends that the 'terms' referred to in the proviso are the terms as a Councilor, and the contention is that even if a person holds office fro or during any part of two consecutive terms of five years as contemplated by Section 10 (2) of the Act, the proviso will come into operation, and in the instant case notwithstanding that the respondent No. 1 was elected as the President of the Zilla Parishad for a part of the second term of Councilors of five years he having held office in two consecutive terms of five years as contemplated by Section 10 (2) he must be held to be ineligible in view of the proviso to Section 42. The same argument is put in a slightly different manner. On behalf of petitioner Shrawan by Mr. Palshikar appearing on his behalf. He argues that if a person holds the office of President during the term of five years of Councilor-ship, it is tantamount to holding the office of President for that whole term of Councillorship and since the respondent No. 1 held the office of President for a part of the second term, i.e. for the period of 12-8-1972, he must be deemed to have held the office of president for that entire term, which being the one which succeeds the first term 14-8-1962 to 12-8-`967, the condition precedent for disqualifying the respondent No. 1 for being eligible for election for the third time is satisfied. A third construction is put on the proviso on behalf of the State by Mr. Mor, learned Assistant Government Pleader, According to Mr.Mor, the proviso to Section 42 will operate only in a case where a Councilor holds office as President for two full terms of five years each as contemplated by Section 43 read with Section 10 (2) and Section 11 (1) of the Act. It is contended on behalf of the State that if a tended on behalf of the State that if a person holds office as President for a period which was short of the whole period of the terms of Councilors as defined in Section 10 (2) read with Section `11 (1), notwithstanding that these two periods may be consecutive, the proviso will not come into operation. The argument on behalf of the State no doubt supports the respondent No.1, but on an entirely different construction than the one which is canvassed on behalf of the respondent No. 1. On behalf of the respondent No. 1 what is contended is that the respondent No. no doubt held office for two terms, the first on being from 14-8-1962 to 12-8-1967, and the second one being from 21-6-1968 to 12-8-1972, but on a literal construction of the word 'consecutive' these two terms cannot be said to be consecutive because the second did not succeed the first inasmuch as during the intervening period from 12-8-1967 to 21-6-1968 Dakhane was elected as the president and, therefore, there was a hiatus between the two terms during which the respondent No. 1 held office as President. We are, therefore, called upon to construe the meaning of the expression 'held any such office for two consecutive terms' occurring in the first proviso to Section 42.
4. In view of the arguments advanced before us it is necessary to refer to certain other provisions of the Act, The word 'term' is not defined any-where in the Act and must, therefore, be constructed with reference to the context in which it has been used in the different provisions dealing with the offices of the Councilors and also of the President and the Vice-President in the several provisions of the Act. Section 10 of the Act provides for the election and term of office of the Councilors. Under Sub-section (1) of that Section it is provided that the Councilors shall be elected in the manner provided by or under the Act. Sub-section (2) of Section 10 reads:
'The term of office of Councilors shall except as otherwise provided in this Act, be five years:
Provided that, persons who are Councilors by virtue of their being Chairman of panchayat Samiti or of a co-operative society, shall hold office, so long only as they continue to hold the office of such Chairman: Provided further that, if the State Government is of opinion that for some reason (including the granting of an injunction or stay by a Court), it is not practicable to complete all stages of the general election of Councilors to any Zilla Parishad before the date of expiry of their term of office, the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, extend the term of Councilors beyond that date but in no case beyond six months from the date aforesaid'.
Section 11 provides for the commencement of the term of Councilors and it is provided that the term of office of Councilors elected at a general election shall be deemed to commence on the date of the first meeting of the Zilla Parishad. Under sub-section (3) of Section 11 it is provided that the term of office of the outgoing councilors shall be deemed to extend to and expire with, the day before such first meeting. Sub-section (3) is thus an illustration of the exception which is contemplated in sub-section (2) of Section 10. Though Sub-section (2) of Section 10 provides that the term of office of Councilors shall be five years. this provision is subject to the provision to the contrary in the Act, and one such provision is sub-section (3) of Section 11 where the term is fictional made to extend to and expire with the day before the first meeting contemplated by Section 11. Other exceptions contemplated by sub-section (2) of Section 10 are to be found in Section 38, 39 and 40. These sections provide:
'38, Any Councilor who is elected or co-opted may resign his office by writing under his hand addressed to the President, and the President may resign his office of Councilor by giving similar notice to the Councilor by giving similar notice to Commissioner: and the office of the Councilor shall thereupon become vacant. The notice shall be delivered in the manner prescribed.
39. The State Government may, if it thinks fit, on the recommendation of the Zilla Parishad supported by not less than tow-thirds of the number of Councilors present and voting, remove any Councilor if he has been guilty of misconduct in the discharge of his duties, or of any disgraceful conduct or has become incapable of performing his duties as a Councilor:
Provided that, no such Councilor shall be removed from office unless he has been given reasonable opportunity to furnish his explanation. 40. (1) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2). of Section 62, if any Councilor during the term of his office-
(a) becomes disqualified under sub-section (1) of Section 16, or
(b) is, for a period of six consecutive moths (excluding in the case of leave duly sanctioned) without the permission of the Zilla Parishad, absent from meetings thereof is absent from such meetings for a period of twelve consecutive months, the office of such Councilor shall, notwithstanding anything contained in clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Sec,. 9 become vacant:
Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall apply to a Councilor who is an Associate Councilor falling under clause (d0 of sub-section (1) of Section 9. (2) If any question, whether a vacancy has occurred under this section is raised either by the commissioner suomotu or on an application made to him by any person in the behalf, the Commissioner shall decide the question as far as possible within ninety days from the date of receipt of such application, and his decision thereon shall be final, Until the Commissioner decides that the vacancy has occurred, the Councilor shall not be disabled from continuing to be a Councilor:
Provided that, no decision shall be given against any Councilor, without giving him a reasonable opportunity of being heard:.
It is also necessary to refer to Section 41 which provides for the manner in which casual vacancies are to be filled up. the casual vacancies which are contemplated by Section 41 are the vacancies which are contemplated by Section 38, 39 and 40 in addition to vacancies caused as a result of death of a Councilor. Section 41 provides:
'In the event of a vacancy occurring on account of death, resignation, disqualification or removal of a Councilor or through a Councilor becoming incapable of acting previous to the expiry of his term of office or otherwise, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer shall forthwith communicate the occurrence to the Collector and the vacancy shall be filled as soon as conveniently may be, co-option of a person, thereto, who shall hold office so long only as the Councilor in whose place he is elected, or co-opted would have held it, if the vacancy had not occurred:
Provided that, notwithstanding anything contained in Section 9, if the vacancy occurs within six moths preceding the date on which the term of office of the Councilor expires, the vacancy shall not be filled'.
We have already reproduced above Section 42. Section 43 provides that save as otherwise provided in the Act, the President and Vice-President shall hold office for the term of office of the Councilors. Now, just as Section 38, 39 and 40 contemplate that a Councilor may cease to be a Councilor even before he runs through the entire period of five years if he is elected at the general election, or the remaining period of five years if he is elected as a bye-election, there are similar, provisions in the Act which also provided that in certain contingencies the President and the Vice-President may be not able to hold office for the entire term of office of Councilors as contemplated by Section 10 (2) read with Section 11 (1). A vacancy in the office of President of the Zilla Parishad can occur in case a motion of non-confidence against him is carried in the manner provided for in Section 49 of the Act. It is not necessary to refer to the earlier sub-section of Section 49, but sub-section (7) of Section 49 provides that if the motion is carried by a majority of the total number of Councilors (other than Associate Councilors) the President, or as the case may be, the Vice-President shall cease to hold office forthwith; and the office held by such president or Vice-President or Vice-President or Vice-President shall be deemed to be vacant. Section 50 provides for the removal of president or Vice-President for misconduct in the discharge of his duties or neglect of, or incapacity to perform his duty or for being persistently remiss in the discharge thereof, or if he is guilty of any disgraceful conduct; and the President or Vice-President so removed is not eligible for re-election as President or Vice-President during the remainder of the term of office of the Councilors. The power to remove the president or Vice- President for the aforesaid causes is vested in the State Government which could be exercised by it after giving a reasonable opportunity to furnish an explanation. Section 52 then provides for the manner in which the vacancies of the President and Vice-President are to be filled up, and it is provided that a vacancy caused by reason of death, resignation, removal or otherwise shall subject to the provisions of Section 42 and 50, be filled as conveniently as may be by election of a new President or Vice-President. These are the relevant provisions which have been referred to before us by the learned council appearing for the parties.
5. Now, it may be noted that the provisions in Section 10 (2) of the Act that the term of office of Councilors shall be five years is not an absolute provision, and though it was contemplated that once elected at a general election, the once elected at a general election, the term of office of such a Councilor shall be five years, there are provisions in the Act itself which indicate that in respect of any particular Councilor the term of office held by him could be less than five years. A reading of Section 10 (2), 40 and 41 of the Act clearly indicates that though Section 10 (2) is general provision fixing the term of office of Councilors as such, there can also be a term of office of each individual Councilor, and vis-a-vis such a Councilor that term has been referred to as the term of office of such Councilor. For example, in Section 41, when referring to the provisions which result in the incurring of a disqualification, the period during which such disqualification can be incurred is referred to vis-a-vis the Councilor concerned a s 'his term of office'. Similarly, while providing for the filling up of casual vacancies, the period during which a councilor must become incapable of acting. So that he should cease to be a Councilor on that ground so as to enable a bye-election to be held, has been referred to as the period ending with 'the expiry of his term of office.' So far as, therefore, Councilors are concerned, the Legislature did contemplate a concept of term of office of a Councilor, and, therefore, though generally it was provided that in the case of Councilors elected at the general election, the term of office at the general election, the term of office of Councilor shall be five years the concept of there being a term of each Councilor does not run counter to the provisions of Section 10 (2) read with Section 11 of the Act.
6. Now, when we come to Section 42, proviso, the question which needs to be considered is: When the proviso used the words or the phrase 'any such office for two consecutive terms' was it intended by the Legislature that two consecutive terms must on the terms as a Councillor or as a president Section 42 s a whole deals with the subject of election of President and Vice-President. The proviso was no their is the original Bill but appears to have been put there by the Select Committee, and according to well established canons of construction, if there is no ambiguity we must construe the proviso by giving the words their grammatical meaning, and find the inanition of the Legislature in the section and the proviso as enacted by it. The proviso purports to debar a Councillor from being elected as president if he has held office as President for two consecutive terms. It is difficult to imagine that while dealing with the election of President a bar will be created not with reference to the consecutive periods or terms during which the councillor has held office as president but that the bar will be created with reference to holding office as a Councillor. The words 'such office' clearly indicated that the Legislature contemplated that the subject of legislation under the proviso was a Councillor who had earlier held office as President. The earlier provisions quoted by us show that a person who is a Councilor has been described as a person holding the office of Councillor, and having regard to the words 'he had held any such office', we have no doubt that the office with reference to the holding of which the bar was sought to be created against a Councillor was the office of president . Yet a further question arises whether the holding of such office is with reference to the term of office as councillor or it is with reference to the term of office as president as such, and it is here that the use of the word 'for' becomes significant. The length of the period for which the holding of the office a s creating the bar for a fresh election is to be taken into consideration is indicated by the words 'for two consecutive terms'. In our view, the words 'for two consecutive terms' clearly indicate the length of the period. the holding of the office of president during which acts as a bar for a Councillor to hold office as President for a further period. There is not much dispute that when the Legislature used the words 'two consecutive terms' , the terms must be successive, the second one following the first without a hiatus, though it is vehemently contended on behalf of petitioner shankarrao that in a given case a broken period may also become the consecutive period. We shall consider this argument a little later. In order to accept the contention which is raised on behalf of petitioner Shankarrao, we shall really have to read the words 'as councillor' after the word 'terms ' in the first proviso to Section 42. Doing so would relay amount to legislating which is not permissible for the Court. The periods for which the President has held office as contemplated by the earlier parts are, in our view the only periods which are contemplated by the words 'terms' in the first proviso to Section 42.
7. It is contended before us that the construction which we are placing on the proviso is likely to lead to abuse of the provisions and it is possible that an aspirant for the office of president for number of successive terms as president as such has only to bring about a short break during two terms and he can then get-re-elected on any number of occasions. That, according to the learned counsel, did not appear to be the object of the Legislature. Now, as we have already pointed out, the intention of the legislate must be gathered from the words used in the section itself, and we cannot on the possibility of abuse give the proviso a different construction when the grammatical construction undoubtedly achieves the object a indicated in the proviso itself, namely, that the legislature merely Contemplated that a Councillor should not hold the office of President for more than two consecutive terms. The proviso contains no indication about the length of the period for which the office was so held and it does not seem o be of any relevance on the terms of the proviso for creating a bar of ineligibility for the third term. That in our view is the effect of reading the language of the proviso in its natural sense. We may usefully refer to the observations of Lord Haldane, L.C., in Vacher & Sons Ltd., v. London Society of Compositors 1913 AC 107 , where after stating that speculation on the motives of the Legislature was a topic which Judges cannot profitably or properly enter upon, he said:
'Their province is the very different one of construing the language in which the Legislature has finally expressed its conclusion, and if they undertake the other province which belongs to those who, in making the laws, have to endeavor to interpret the desire of the country, they are in danger of going astray in labyrinth to the character of which they have no sufficient guide. In endeavoring to place the proper interpretation on the sections of the statute before this House, sitting in its judicial capacity, I propose therefore, to exclude consideration of everything excepting the state of the law as it was when the statute was passed, and the light to be got by reading it as a whole, before attempting to construe any particular section, subject to this consideration, I think that the only safe course is to read the language of the statute in what seems to be its natural sense.'
If it was the intention of the Legislature either to provide for a minimum length of two consecutive periods of office as President as a bar to holding that office for the third time, or if it was intended by the Legislature that the holding of the office of President at any time during the five year term of a Councillor, or in the case of a given Councillor, during the term of his office, was to make the Councillor ineligible to hold the office of President during the third successive term as Councillor, the proviso would have clearly been worded in a different manner. As the proviso stands, we are clearly of the view that it will come into operation only in a case where a Councillor holds office a president of the Zilla Parishad for two successive terms or periods of office and irrespective of the fact whether such periods of office fall within the same term as a Councillor or within two successive terms as a Councillor.
8. The use of the word 'during' for the word 'for' as suggested by the learned counsel for petitioner Shankarrao can also be of no avail to the petitioners. The word 'for' no doubt is sometimes used as synonym of 'during: In Webster's new Twentieth Century Dictionary, second Edition, the meaning of the word 'for' is given as to the length, duration or extent of : throughout; throughout'. It is in this sense that the word 'for' has been used in the proviso to Section 42. The Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary. 1972 edition, gives 'during' as one of the meanings of the word 'for'. Now, it appears that by the use of the words 'for two consecutive terms', the intention of the legislature was to indicate the length of the period or terms during which the President had held office, which would make him ineligible for becoming a President for a third successive term: and therefore, the use of the word 'during' would not affect the construction which we are placing on the proviso though it is clear that such a substitution of one word for another used by the Legislature would not be permissible.
9. Mr. Bobbed has referred us to a passage from the Judicial and Statutory Definitions of Words and Phrases collected edited, and complied by Members of the Editorial Staff of the National Reporter System. Volume 2, 1904 edition, in which, while giving the meaning of the word 'consecutive' it is stated that 'consecutive ' is synonymous with 'successive' and these words are often used interchangeably. The passage relied upon was as follows:
'While the term 'consecutive days' primarily means that many days directly following one another, it is also defined as meaning successive but in cases of contracts that significance should be given it which the parties evidence intended it should have. A contract providing for publication in a paper for 10 consecutive days must mean publication in consecutive ' as any more forcible than the word 'continuous'. Both signify 'unbroken', and the fact that the newspaper published no issue on Sunday did not render the publication other than consecutive. City of EL. Paso v. Ft. Dear-born Nat. Bank (Tex) 7 SW 799, 802 .
Now, the report from which the quotation is taken or on which the passage quoted above is based is not available. But even according to this authority it is not disputed that the word 'consecutive' is synonymous with 'successive' But what was observed in that passage is that in cases of contracts the words 'consecutive days' must be given the meaning which the parties intended they should have. The Court in that case was contouring a contract which provided for publication in a paper for ten consecutive days and it was found that it was intended that the publication must be in consecutive numbers of the newspaper and though the newspaper was not published on Sunday, the publication in the newspaper on the following day it not cease to make the publication consecutive. Thus, so far as the act of publication in ten consecutive numbers of the paper was concerned, the publication was clearly consecutive because there was no publication of Sunday. The deed was, therefore, construed as providing for consecutive publication, though the words used were consecutive days. Ultimately, therefore the construction depended on the context in which the word 'consecutive' was used and the intention which was gathered from the context itself. In the instant case, as we have already pointed out above, we have construed the word 'term' as term of office as President, and if for the purpose of the proviso to Section 42 the second term of office as President has to be consecutive in the context of the earlier one, it must necessarily be an unbroken period of two consecutive terms of office as President. The passage relied upon is, therefore, of no assistance to the petitioners.
10. Our attention was invited to a passage from Willoughby on the Constitution of the United States, Volume 3, Second Edition, in which the learned author was dealing with the convention in the United States of America according to which the President of the United States who had been President for two consecutive terms did not stand for election for a third time, and the learned author observed that the propriety of restricting the number of successive terms had become firmly rooted in the American mind. At the end of Chapter LXXXII under the heading 'Presidential Succession', the learned author has observed:
'How strong the sentiment might be to giving three or more terms to the same person, so long as not more than two are successive, has never been tested. President Roosevelt upon his election in 1905 declared that, in accordance with the spirit, if not the literal requirements, of the tradition against a third term, he would consider the three years which he served as the successor of President Mckinley as a first term for himself, and that he would not, therefore, be a candidate for recombination in 1908.'
Now, sentiments do not have much place in the construction of statutes. It is true that President Roosevelt himself considered the three years which he served as the successor of President Mckinley as his first term and it indicated how President Roosevelt looked at the convention. These observations are, however, of no assistance in construing the proviso to Section 42 which alone must be read as expressing the intention of the Legislature. We may, however, point out the re-election of the President of the United States is now governed by a specific provision in the Constitution of United State introduced by the 22nd Amendment to the effect that 'no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once'. It is argued by Mr. Bobde that the spirit in which, according to the learned Author, the convention was accepted by President Roosevelt has been incorporated in the amendment: but it is difficult to see how that can be of any assistance to us in the present case.
11. In view of the construction which we have placed, it is also not possible to accept the argument advanced by Mr. Palshikar on behalf of the other petitioner. A deeming fiction cannot be introduced by construction and it is the exclusive privilege of the Legislature to apply a deeming fiction in a given case. We cannot, therefore, by construction hold that for whatever length during the period of office as a Councillor holds the office of President, he must be deemed to have held the office of President for the entire term as a Councillor. It is difficult to imagine how when the actual holding of the office is contemplated - an office in which certain powers have to be exercised and functions performed, a Councillor can be fictional put into that office for a period longer than the one for which he had held that office. We must also reject the argument on behalf of the State, the unless a Councillor is President for two consecutive terms of five years each, the bar in the proviso to Section 42 will not operate. As we have already pointed out above, there may be cases in which a Councillor may not hold office as a Councilor for the entire period of five years, he may become a Councillor by being elected at a bye-election; and if that is so, irrespective of the fact that is so, irrespective of the fact that such a Councillor holds office as President for two consecutive terms, it will be contrary to the plain and grammatical meaning of the proviso to hold that the bar will not operate. In view of the construction which we have placed on the proviso, we must, therefore, hold that the second term of office of the respondent No. 1 as President from 21-6-1968 to 12=-8-1972 cannot be said to be a term which was consecutive with his first term from 14-8-1962 to 12-8-1967. It is no doubt likely that by bringing about an intervention of a short broken period between two fairly long terms as President, the object which is sought to be achieved by the legislature, namely, at least to see that a Councillor does not hold the office of President for too long a period, is likely to be defeated. But that again is matter for the legislature to consider. As the proviso stands today, it is impossible to take the view in the instant case that the respondent o. 1 was ineligible for being elected as President for the third term on the ground that he has held office as President for two consecutive terms as contemplated by the proviso to Section 42 of the Act. Both the petitions must, therefore, fail and are dismissed. In the circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs.
12. Petitions dismissed.