1. This writ appeal is preferred against the order dated August 25, 1969 passed by our learned Brother Kondaiah, J., allowing Writ Petition No. 2201 of 1969.
2. The writ petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for the issuance of a Writ of Certiorari to quash the resolution No. 80 of the Municipal Council, Markapur, dated June 25, 1969, relating to the motion of no-confidence in the appellant herein.
3. The sanctioned strength of the Municipal Council Markapur is twenty. The election of the Members of that Municipal Council took place in the month of September, 1967, the period of office of the council being five years. Twelve councilors of the aforesaid Municipal Council issued a written notice under sub-section (2) of Section 46 of the Andhra Pradesh Municipalities Act, 1965 ( referred to hereafter merely as ' the Act ' ), to the Revenue Divisional Officer, Markapur, the first respondent herein, expressing their intention to make a motion of want of confidence in the Chairman of the Municipal Council, the appellant herein.
4. In exercise of powers conferred under sub-section (3) of the aforesaid Section 46 of the Act, the first respondent convened a meeting of the Municipal Council to be held on June 25, 1969 at 11-00 a.m., at the office of the Municipal Council for considering the motion of the no-confidence. Notice of the meeting was given to all the elected councilors.
5. The case of the petitioners is that at about 1-00 A. M. , on June 18, 1969, while Dodda Venkata Reddy, one of the elected councillors, and the petitioners 7, 10 and 11 in the Writ Petition, were returning from a cinema hall at Nellore where they have been to on some private work, they were attacked by a group of about fifty unruly mob under the leadership of one Atchaiah, the brother of the Municipal Chairman, the appellant herein and that Dodda Venkata Reddy was forcibly carried away while the others managed to escape and reached Markapur on June 18, 1969. Dodda Chalama Reddy, a cousin of Dodda Venkata Reddy, sent telegram to the Inspector General of Police, Home Minister and some others informing them of the attack on the four councillors and the abduction of Dodda Venkata Reddy in a grey coloured Ambassador car having A. P. Q. Number by goondas led by the brother of the Chairman with a view to prevent Dodda Venkata Reddy from attending and taking part in the meeting scheduled to take place on June 25, 1969, for the consideration of the motion of no-confidence against the appellant.
6. A complaint also was filed in the Police Station, Nellore about the incident and the Police after investigation, filed a charge-sheet in the Court in which was pending trial. It was alleged further by the petitioners that two other councillors, namely, Dodda Chalama Reddy and Penumala Balatirumumalaiah were got arrested by the Police at the instance of the appellant herein on June 19, 1969 at Markapur on some false complaint with the ulterior object of preventing them from attending the meeting of June 25, 1969. The petitioner, therefore, prayed for the issurance of a writ of mandamus in order to have the aforesaid meeting postponed.
7. When the matter came up for admission before our learned brother Kuppuswamy, J., Sri Kanyaka Prasad, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant herein, submitted that the application for postponing the meeting was filed by the writ petitioners because they were not sure about their success and that was intended only with a view to utilising the interval to obtain a majority of votes in their favour. And the learned Judge, for admitting the writ petition made the following observations :
'If ultimately the petitioners succeed in convincing this court that one of the councillors was physically prevented from attending the meeting by or at the instance of the second respondent, the meeting held would be no valid meeting at all and the petitioners would be justified in asking for quashing of the motion of the no-confidence passed at that meeting. Mr. Kanyaka Prasad says that though this petition is filed for a writ not to hold the meeting he is agreeable to the petitioner converting it into one for certiorari to quash any resolution passed at that meeting subsequently. If in such a petition the petitioners succeeded and the motion of no-confidence is quashed, then there will be no embargo upon the petitioners from moving a fresh motion of no-confidence. '
The two councillors who were arrested on June 19, 1969, were released on bail. They attended the meeting held by the first respondent at 11-00 a. M., on June 25, 1969. Thirteen elected councillors voted in favour of the motion of the no-confidence in the Chairman, the appellant herein, whereas three elected councillors voted against the motion of no-confidence. The Revenue Divisional Officer, thereupon, as per his proceedings, held that the strength of the elected councillors as on the date of the meeting was twenty, and that thirteen elected councillors voted in favour of the motion of no-confidence and as the motion was not carried with the support of the two thirds of the strength of the elected councillors, the motion was declared lost.
8. Dodda Venkata Reddy, one of the elected councillors, who was abducted at Nellore at the instance of the party of the Chairman, the appellant herein, could not the meeting. Had he not been so abducted and prevented from attending the meeting, the Writ petitioners submit, that the motion of the no-confidence would have been carried with the support of two thirds of the strength of the elected councillors as on the date of the meeting.
9. In view of the fact that the meeting on June 25, 1969 was over, the writ petitioners got the Writ Petition converted into one of certiorari seeking the quashing of the resolution which was passed thereat.
10. Dodda Venkata Reddy, who was stated to be abducted, was one of the signatories to the notice under sub-section (2) of Section 46 of the Act. He has been supporting the motion of no-confidence. He was released only on June 26, 1969, after the meeting was over. He filed an affidavit to that effect. The appellant herein, in his counter, denied that the said Dodda Venkata Reddy was attacked and carried away forcibly at Nellore at his instance and he further stated that he was not responsible for the arrest of the other persons, as stated by the writ petitioners. As it a disputed question of fact whether or not the said Dodda Venkata Reddy was abducted, this Court, according to the appellant herein, may not go into that question.
11. Our learned brother Kondaiah, J., held thus :
'But on the record available before me, I am satisfied prima facie for the purpose of this writ petition that Dodda Venkata Reddy was physically prevented from attending the meeting on 25-6-1969 at the instance of the supporters of the 2nd respondent with the mala fide object of defeating the motion expressing no-confidence in the 2nd respondent. '
So holding, our learned brother quashed the proceedings of the Markapur Municipal Councillors' meeting on June 25, 1969, including the resolution No. 80 and directed the first respondent to convene the meeting afresh to consider the requisition expressing no-confidence, as per the notice issued to him earlier under the sub-section (2) of the Section 46 of the Act, by the twelve councillors, after giving notice to all the elected councillors and proceed according to law.
12. Aggrieved by the said decision, the Chairman of the Municipal Council, the second respondent in the Writ Petition preferred the Writ Appeal.
13. Sri Kanyaka Prasad, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant, contends that the proceedings in a meeting convened with the statutory provisions cannot be declared invalid merely because one of the councillors failed to attend the meeting for reasons beyond his control and that the direction of the learned Single Judge issued to the Revenue Divisional Officer to convene the meeting afresh, as per the earlier notice to him, under sub-section (2) of Section 46 of the Act is contrary to the provisions of sub-sections (3) and (5) of Section 46 and is, for that reason, unsustainable in law.
14. Sri Chandrasekara Rao and Sri Gangadhara Rao contend, on the other hand, for the position, that when one of the elected councillors who was admittedly the signatory of the notice under sub-section (2) of Section 46, was prevented physically by the Chairman's party from attending the meeting taking place on June 25, 1969, there was, in the eye of law, no meeting convened, nor the proceedings taken thereat can be considered valid in law and as such the proceedings of the meeting are liable to be quashed.
15. After having heard the elaborate arguments addressed and after having gone through the records we are not pursuaded to disturb the finding of our learned brother referred to heretofore, to the effect that Sri Dodda Venkata Reddy was physically prevented from attending the meeting on June 25, 1969 at the instance, of the supporters of the Chairman with the mala fide object of defeating the motion expressing no-confidence in him.
16. The question that arises then for consideration is whether the proceedings at the meeting held on June 25, 1969 are liable to be quashed.
17. The scheme of the Act in so far as it relates to the election and removal of the Chairman is of much materiality in this context.
18. The Municipal Council, under Section 23, has been given the power to elect one of the elected councillors as the Chairman in the manner prescribed, and the said council, under S. 46, has been given the power to remove the Chairman from office by passing a motion of no-confidence against him with the support of two-thirds of the strength of the elected councillors as on the date of the meeting convened for that purpose, and but for this, the Chairman is otherwise entitled to continue in office as per Section 24, till the expiration of his team of office as a councillor or on his otherwise ceasing to be a councillor. It may also be noted in this connection, that under sub-section (14) of Section 46, no notice of motion expressing want of confidence in the Chairman can be made within one year of the assumption of office by him as a Chairman. Under sub-section (13) of the aforesaid Section 46, if the motion expressing want of confidence in the Chairman is not carried by the requisite majority, or if the meeting convened for that purpose could not be held for want of a quorum, no notice of any subsequent motion expressing want of confidence in the same chairman could be made until after the expiration of one year from the date of the meeting.
19. A motion expressing want of confidence in the Chairman shall have to be made in accordance with the procedure laid down in Section 46. As per sub-section (2) of the aforesaid section, a written notice of intention to make the motion signed by such member of elected councillors as shall constitute not less than one-half of the sanctioned strength of the council, together with a copy of the proposed motion, shall have to be delivered in person by any two the elected councillors signing the notice to the Revenue Divisional Officer, so far we are concerned. The Revenue Divisional Officer, under sub-section (3) thereof, shall have to, then convene a meeting for the consideration of the motion at the Municipal Office on the date appointed by him and he shall have to give to the elected councillors notices of not less than fifteen clear days of such meeting. As soon as the meeting convened under Section 46 commences, the Revenue Divisional Officer shall have to read to the council the motion for the consideration of which the meeting has been convened, and declare it to be open for debate. Such debate shall automatically terminate on the expiration of two hours from the time appointed for the commencement of the meeting if it is not concluded earlier. On the conclusion of the debate or on the expiration of the said period of two hours, as per sub-section (9), whichever is earlier, the motion shall have to be put to vote. As per sub-section (12) if the motion is carried with the support of two-thirds of the strength of the elected councillors as on the date of the meeting, the Revenue Divisional Officer shall have to forthwith publish the result in the notice board at the Municipal Office and on such publication, the Chairman shall be deemed to have been removed with immediate effect. Any such result shall be final and shall not be questioned in any court of law. That is the scheme of Section 46, with the effect and the interpretation of which, we are not immediately concerned with.
20. What follows from the aforesaid resume is that a meeting for the consideration of the motion expressing want of confidence in the Chairman shall have to be convened by the Revenue Divisional Officer. The Revenue Divisional Officer shall have to give notice of the meeting to every elected councillor and the meeting itself is to be convened for the consideration of the motion. As soon as the meeting was convened, the Revenue Divisional Officer shall have to declare it to be open for debate, and ultimately, the motion shall have to be put to vote. And when the motion is carried with a support of the two-thirds of the strength of the elected councillors, the Chairman shall deemed to have been removed from office. In other words, a meeting has got to be properly convened and every councillor shall have to be given notices of the meeting and that notice is intended with a view to enabling the councillor to attend the meeting and to participate in the debate that may take place for considering the motion and, ultimately, he has got to vote when the motion was put to vote.
21. The expression ' meeting ' has been defined in the Black's Law Dictionary at page 1134 thus : ' a coming together of persons. '
22. In the Webster's' New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language, Volume I, at page 1051, the meaning of the word ' meeting ' was given as ' the act of coming together. '
23. In Volume 57, of Corpus Juris Secundam at page 1044, the expression ' meeting ' as a noun is given this meaning ' A number of people having a common duty or function who have come together for any legal purpose or the transaction of business of a common interest ; an assemblage. '
24. Lord Coleridge, C. J., in Sharp v. Dawes, ( 1876 ) 2 QBD 26 held thus : '...........and the word ' meeting ' prima facie means a coming together of more than one person. '
25. Coming, then, to the purpose of notice required to be issued while convening a meeting, it is observed by Coleridge, C. J., in R. v. Langhorn, ( 1836 ) 4 Ad & El 538, thus :
'The notice is served, not for his personal benefit, but as admonition to him to perform a public duty. '
26. In Halsbury's Laws of England, III Edition, Volume 9, at page 46, Paragraph 91, the following passage occurs :
'NECESSITY FOR NOTICE. A Corporation can only do corporate acts at a corporate meeting unless a special method is authorised by the Constitution. To be duly constituted a corporate meeting must be convened by the proper authority and must be held upon notice which gives every member of the corporation entitled to attend an opportunity of attending..................'
27. As regards the validity of the proceedings the following passages are instructive :
Lord Denman, C. J., observed in The Bailiffs of Godmanchester v. Phillips, ( ( 1836 ) 4 Ad & El 550 ) at page 574 of the Report, thus :
'On this point the authority of the cases is too strong to be resisted. It is clear that was not a proper assembly, and that, consequently the resignation, not being duly accepted, was of no effect. ' Bose, J., in Vice-Chancellor, Utkal University, v. S. K. Gosh, : 1SCR883 at page 888 of the Report held thus :
'Hence, an omission to give proper notice even to a single member in these circumstances would invalidate the meeting and that in turn would invalidate resolutions which purport to have been passed at it' In Radha Kishen v. Municipal Committee, Khandwa, 61 Ind App 125 = ( air 1934 pc 62 ) the Privy Council observed that a resolution purported to have been passed at a meeting of the Municipal Committee, was held to have not been validly passed when a member of the Committee was not given notice of the meeting in accordance with the by-laws and when that meeting was not present.
28. The following propositions emerge from the foregoing :
(a) The concept of ' meeting ' takes with in its ambit ' the coming together of persons',
(b) The purpose of a notice is to enable the persons entitled to participate in a meeting to attend the meeting and to participate in the deliberations to be taken thereat ;
(c) If a meeting is convened without notice to the persons, entitled to the same, the meeting will be invalid and the consequential proceedings taken thereat, also will be afflicted with the same kind of infirmity.
The notice is intended to enable the person concerned to discharge a public duty. The object of the meeting with the requirement to have the same being preceded by the issuance of a proper notice, is to enable the person entitled to participate in the deliberations of the meetings. These does not seem to be, then, any difference in point of principle between a case of there being a meeting convened without a notice to a person entitled to attend the meeting and a case where such a person was found being prevented by the interested party from attending the meeting.
29. If the purpose-oriented policy of statutory interpretation as came to be propounded in United States v. American Trucking Association, (1940 ) 310 US 534 at pp. 543-544, is to be applied to the interpretation of Section 46 of the Act, the purpose of that Section must be considered to have been defeated in the instant case. As per that Section, the Municipal Council as a corporate body was given the power to bring about the removal of the Chairman from office through passing a motion of no-confidence by following the procedure laid down therein.
30. As has already been noticed, the sanctioned strength of the Markapur Municipal Council is twenty. Sri Dodda Venkata Reddy is one of the elected councillors. He was one of the signatories to the notice of the motion under sub-section (2) of Section 46. As his affidavit discloses, he was to vote in favour of the motion of no-confidence against the Chairman. The said Dodda Venkata Reddy was prevented physically from attending the meeting on June 25, 1969 at the instance of the supporters of the Chairman with the object of defeating the no-confidence motion in the Chairman. Thirteen councillors voted in favour of the motion. Two-thirds of the strength of the Municipal Council comes to fourteen. The motion was defeated because fourteen councillors did not vote in favour of the motion. Sri Dodda Venkata Reddy's vote is a critical, a tilting and a decisive vote, If the person as against whom no-confidence motion was sought to be brought is to be permitted to prevent the members from participating in the deliberations of the meeting, that will virtually result in allowing such a person to defeat the object of the Act, particularly, the provisions contained in Section 46. It will be practically annihilating the very basis of democratic and representative institutions.
31. Confining the application of the aforesaid propositions to the facts of the present case, we are of the opinion that the meeting held on June 25, 1969, is no meeting in the eye of law, nor the proceedings taken thereat can be said to be valid. The proceedings at that meeting are not in accordance with the spirit and letter of law and as such they are void. We agree with the direction given by the learned Judge to the first respondent to convene the meeting afresh to consider the requisition expressing no-confidence as per the notice issued to him earlier under Section 46 (2) of the Act by twelve councillors after giving notices to all the elected councillors and proceed according to law.
32. We affirm the decision of our learned brother and dismiss this appeal with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100 /-.
33. Appeal dismissed.