1. This Pull Bench has been necessitated by three election petitions filed by three defeated candidates in an election to the Janapad Sabha, and the question that arises for our determination is with regard to the interpretation and construction of Act I of 1955 passed by the Madhya Pradesh Legislature.
2. It appears that the Nagpur High. Court in a Full Bench decision in Kanglu Baula v. Chief Executive Officer, Janapad Sabha Durg ILR 1954 Nag 875: AIR 1955 Nag 49 (A) took the view that the electoral rolls prepared under the relevant Act under which elections to the Janapadsabha were held were not proper and the elections held pursuant to those rolls were void. In order to get over the effect of this decision an Ordinance was passed, being Ordinance 1of 1954 and the Ordinance was substituted sub-sequently by Act I of 1955, the Act in question. It is a short Act and Section 3(1) provides:
'(1) Notwithstanding the Order of any Court to the contrary or any provision in the Act r the rules thereunder-
(a) the electoral rolls shall be and shall always be deemed to have been validly prepared, published and republished; and
(b) the electoral rolls shall be deemed to have come in force on the date of republication and Khali continue to be in force until they are revised in accordance with the rules made in this behalf under the Act.'
Sub-section (2) provides that the validity of the electoral rolls shall not be called in question on any of the grounds mentioned in that tub-section; and Sub-section (3) provides:
'Any Order of a Court declaring any electoral roll invalid on all or any of the grounds specified in Sub-section (2) or directing preparation of fresh electoral rolls shall be deemed to be and always to have been of no legal effect, whatsoever.'
Section 4 deals with validation of elections and it provides:
'(1) No election shall be deemed to be or to have been invalid merely on the ground that the electoral roll on the basis of which the election was held was invalid on all or any of the grounds specified in Sub-section (2) of Section 3.
(2) Any Order of a Court declaring any election invalid merely on the ground that the electoral rolls were invalid on all or any of the grounds specified in Sub-section (2) of Section 3 shall be deemed to be and always to have been of no legal effect whatsoever.'
Therefore, the substance of this legislation is to set aside the effect of the decision of the Nagpur High Court. The Nagpur High Court having held that the electoral rolls were not properly prepared & the elections held pursuant to those rolls were void, the Legislature stepped in and declared by this Act that notwithstanding that decision and notwithstanding the provision of the Act the Nagpur High Court was construing, the electoral rolls were properly prepared and the elections pursuant to those rolls were valid.
3. This Act has been challenged by Mr. Badkas on three grounds and the first is a very interesting, and if we might say so, a very ingenious ground. The ground is that in passing this legislation the Legislature has not been exercising its legislative function but has been trespassing upon the function reserved under the Constitution for the judiciary. In other words, what Mr. Badkas says is that the legislature has been performing a judicial function, a function which it is not competent to perform. What Mr. Badkas submits is that it is open to a Legislature retrospectively to amend a law, but it is not open to a Legislature to tell the Courts how it shall Interpret a particular law, and according to Mr. Badkas the real, effect of this Act is that although the Nagpur High Court interpreted the Act in a particular manner and came to the conclusion that the electoral rolls were not validly prepared, the Legislature by its mandate orders the Court to interpret the Act in a different way and hold that the electoral rolls were validly prepared. In our opinion, that is really not the effect of this legislation which we are considering. Far from dictating to the Court how it shall construe a particular law or what interpretation it shall put upon a particular law, this Act respects the decision given by the Nagpur High Court and having respected that decision orders that notwithstanding that decision, notwithstanding that the electoral rolls are not properly maintained and the elections are void, the electoral rolls shall be deemed to be Validly prepared and maintained and the elections shall be valid. The use of the expression ''deemed' is very significant. By that expression the Legislature has introduced a legal fiction. The Legislature realised that so long as the decision of the Nagpur High Court stood the electoral rolls were invalid and the elections were void, and therefore by this legal fiction it declared what was void to be valid, find in our opinion in doing so it was exercising its legitimate legislative function. Mr. Badkas says that the proper way to bring about this effect was to have amended the original Act under which the electoral rolls were maintained and the elections were held, and inasmuch as the original Act has not been amended the real effect of this law is to compel the Courts to construe that Act differently from the manner in which it has construed it. It is true that it would have been open to the Legislature retrospectively to have amended the Act, but it was equally open to the Legislature to allow the Act to stand, to allow the interpretation put upon it by the High Court to stand, and to say that notwithstanding the interpretation put by the High Court upon the Act the electoral rolls shall be deemed to be validly prepared and maintained and the elections held to be valid. The distinction between the legislative and the judicial function is well established. The judicial function consists in the Court deciding the rights of parties who appear before it, but the rights are to be determined and decided according to law. The Court must submit to the mandate issued by the Legislature, but it is for the Court to interpret what that mandate is and it is for the Court, pursuant to that mandate to decide what the rights of the parties are. Any Interference by the Legislature in this process would undoubtedly be beyond the competence of the Legislature. On the other hand, the legislative process is for the Legislature to lay down the law which will govern parties and transactions and to direct the Court to give effect to that law, and in passing, this Law the Legislature has directed the Court to consider as valid what in law was void. It is an error to suggest that what we are doing today is construing the original Act which was construed by the Nagpur High Court. If we were construing that Act we would construe it precisely in the same manner in which the Nagpur High Court has construed it. What we are construing today is Act 1 of 1955 passed by the Madhya Pradesh Legislature, and when we construe that Act W3 are faced with this situation that the Legislature has given a mandate to us to consider the electoral rolls under the original Act as valid and the elections he'-d pursuant to that Act as valid, and as Courts function within the law the Courts are bound to accept the law passed by the Legislature, (4) Mr. Badkas has relied on certain American decisions which have laid down that It is not open to the Legislature to pass declaratory law with regard to past transactions by which Courts are called upon to interpret the law differently from what they had already interpreted. In the first Place, as we have already pointed out, on a true reading of the law that we are called upon to interpret, the Legislature has not directed us to interpret any law differently from the way inwhich we have interpreted it.
4. In the second place, as was pointed out by the Federal Court in Piare Dusadh v. Emperor 1944 FCR 61: AIR 1944 FO 1, it would not be safe to rely on American decisions in construing the legislative competence of our Legislatures. These decisions with regard to separation of powers largely turn upon the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments which deal with the due process of law and the Prohibition against deprivation of life, liberty or property except under the due process of law. It is true that this decision was given in 1944 before our Constitution was enacted and it may be that after the enactment of our Constitution the position under cur law and the American law has to a certain extent approximated; but this would only be in this sense that if the Courts declared that a particular Act or a particular law contravened the Fundamental rights of a citizen, it may be that the Legislature could not undo the decision of the Court because the Courts are constituted the custodian of fundamental rights of the citizen and it is for the Courts to uphold those fundamental rights. But we are not here dealing with a case of a fundamental right and therefore even assuming that the position after the Constitution was enacted is different from what it was when the Federal Court gave its decision in 1944, inasmuch as no question of fundamental right is involved the decision of the Federal Court would still apply to the question that we are considering.
5. We are fortified in the view that we have taken by a decision of this Court to which my Brother Mudholkar J. was a party, and that is reported in Jadao Bahu Ji v. Municipal Committee Khandwa ILR (1956) Nag 83: AIR 1956 Nag 167 and in his Judgment my brother Mudholkar J. at page 93 (of ILR) : (at p. 171 of AIR) refers to an earlier Judgment reported in Bhaskar v. Mohammad Alimullakhan ILR 1952 Nag 736: AIR 1953 Nag 40 and cites a passage from that judgment:
'...It must be taken to be beyond question that in India the Legislature is competent to put an end to the finality of a decision of a Court and reopen a past controversy and even to pass validating Acts and that enactment of a law haying such effects does not constitute exercise of judicial functions by the Legislature.' With respect, we entirely agree with this view.
6. The second contention urged by Mr. Bad-kas is that the Legislature has exceeded its authority in attempting to take away the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. Now, if ever there was a truism with regard to our Constitution, it is this that the powers of the High Court under Article 226 cannot be taken away by the Legislature and that no law passed by a State Legislature can prevent a party from approaching the High Court under Article 226 and invoking its jurisdiction under that article. What is relied upon is the definition of 'Court' in the Act in question: 'Court' is defined as including the High Court acting under its powers to issue writs, orders and directions or under its power of superintendence; and 'Order'' includes a writ, directions, determination or decision. It seems to us that this definition is an illustration of particularly bad drafting. There was no reason to define 'Court' in this language, nor 'Order' in this language and when we look at the body of the Act there is no provision whatever which prevents anyone from approaching the High Court under Article 226 or the High Court Passingany order under Article 226. It would be perfectly competent, even after the passing of this Act, for any defeated candidate to approach us under Article 226. But he having approached us under Article 226 it would be for us to decide his rights under this law and in deciding this law if we came to the conclusion that he was not entitled to the relief which he sought, that relief would toe denied. There is therefore, not much substance in this contention either.
7.1 The final contention put forward by Mr. Badkas is that the Act offends against Article 14 of the Constitution, and what is urged is that 'election' has been defined as the election of a councillor from an electoral division of a rural circle of a Janapada held during the period commencing on 1-10-1953, and ending on 31-3-1954. What is said Js that there Is discrimination bet-ween elections held during this period and elections held after 31-3-1954 and it is urged that if an election were to be held after 31-3-1954 then the Act would not 'apply to such an election and the election would be void as result of the decision of the Nagpur High Court, and, therefore it is said that whereas a defeated candidate could challenge the election if the election took place after 31-3-1954, a defeated candidate could not challenge 'such an election if it fell within the period mentioned in the definition. Now, in putting forward this argument Mr. Badkas assumes that elections were held or could be held after 31-3-1954 and this assumption is based on a remark in the judgment of the Nagpur High Court in Mathuraprasad V. Chief Executive Officer, Janapada Sabha Bemetara ILR 1954 Nag 849, which was dealing with an election under this very Act and where we find a passage at p. 851 that elections had recently been held under the Act except in a few cases where they had been stayed by the order of the Court, and as this decision was given on 14-5-1954 the argument is put forward that there must have been elections after 14-5-1954. As there, is no averment whatever by the petitioner that elections in fact had taken place after 31-3-1954, we cannot ' possibly countenance this argument under Article 14.
8. The result is that all these three applications will fail and the judgment of the District Court in all these three applications which upheld the election will be maintained.
9. The costs of the applications shall be borne by the applicants.
10. Applications dismissed.