1. This is an application under Art. 228 of the Constitution of India seeking the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the Director, Public Libraries, passed on 19th January 1965.
2. The necessary facts are that, from the constituency of presidents or sarpanchas of village or gram panchayats, one member was to be elected to the Local Library Authority of the District Hyderabad. A meeting for that purpose was called on 21-12-1964 whereat the petitioner was declared elected. The result of the election was also communicated to him through a letter dated 28-12-1965. Before the meeting could be held, by a letter dated 19-1-1965, the Director of Public Libraries informed the petitioner that his election has been cancelled. This letter was served on the petitioner on 19-1-1965 itself. It is this order of the Directors of Public Libraries that is now impugned in this writ petition.
3. The principal contention of Shri Triam-bak Rao Deshmukh, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, is that under Rule S-A of the Andhra Pradesh Public Libraries Rules, 1961, the election of the petitioner, however irregular if may be, cannot be set aside except by means of an election petition. The Director of Public Libraries suo motu has no power to cancel any election. I find sufficient strength in this contention.
4. Rule 8-A is in the following terms:--
'(1) No election of a member of a Local Library Authority held under the provisions of the Act shall be called in question except by an election petition presented in accordance with this rule to the Director by a candidate or elector against the candidate who has been declared to have been duly elected (hereinafter called the returned candidate) if there are two or more returned candidates, against all or any such candidates.'
Such an election petition, according to sub-rule (2) of Rule 8-A, has to be filed within fifteen days of the date of declaration of the result of the election. Admittedly, no such petition was filed before the authority competent to hear the election petitions. On the other hand, some ten persons filed a petition which admittedly was not an election petition, before the Block Development Officer concerned complaining that there wera certain irregularities in the election. That petition was forwarded by the Block Development Officer to the Director, Public Libraries. If is on the basis of this without any notice to the petitioner or any enquiry that the impugned cancellation order was passed and served on the petitioner. That the Director has no such authority to cancel, without having an election petition before him, is conceded. What was, however, argued was that the elections were conducted by an unauthorised person and, therefore, the election was bad in law. It is true that, according to Rule 3 (a) of the Rules, it is the District Panchayat Officer concerned or a Deputy Panchayat Officer authorised by him that can convene a meeting of the Presidents or Sarpanchas of village or gram pancha-yats for the purpose of electing a member. In this case, what happened was that the Deputy Panchayat Officer, who was authorised by the District Panchayat Officer further delegated his power to hold elections to the Extension Officer, Maheshwaram. Through a G.O. dated 29-6-1964, the Maheshwaram block was abolished and instead Ibrahimpatam block was constituted. The authorisation made by the Deputy Panchayat Officer was subsequent to this G.O. The counter alleges that the elections were not conducted by the Extension Officer, Maheshwaram Block, as it was abolished, but the elections were conducted by the Extension Officer of Ibrahimpatam Block. No objection is raised in the counter regarding the validity of the sub-delegation made by the Deputy Panchayat Officer. I need not, therefore, go into its validity.
5. The objection raised in the counter, however, does not seem to be substantial. The authorisation was made ex officio to the Extension Officer and was not given to any individual. It is not denied that the Extension Officer of Ibrahimpatam was the proper authority after the abolition of Maheshwaram Block. The authorisation, therefore, naturally was valid and the power to hold elections was validly exercised by the Extension Officer of Ibrahimpatam. When once it is conceded that the delegation was made to the office-holder and not to a person designated, then however may be the officer holding that office can act upon the delegation. This was what was done in this case. I do not, therefore, find any flaw in so far as conducting the elections by the Extension Officer of Ibrahimpatam is concerned.
6. Another objection in this regard was raised that the meeting was not held at 2-00 p.m. as the notice had directed but it was actually held at 4-00 p.m. But that does not, in my judgment, make the meeting bad in law. There is no provision in the Act or in the Rules as is found in Rule 14 made under the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Samithi and Zilla Parishads Act, 1959 (Andhra Pradesh Act 35 of 1959) that, if there was no quorum within half an hour from the time at which the meeting should have been held, the meeting shall stand adjourned unless all members present resolve to wait longer. In the absence of any such rule, the meeting, although may have been called at 2 p.m., could validly be held at 4 p.m. if it is not otherwise invalid.
7. Even otherwise, assuming that these irregularities exist in so far as the election in question is concerned, the Director of Public Libraries could not because of these irregularities, suo motu set aside the election. Under Rule 8-A, it is only after the election petition is filed before him and as a result of the election petition, that such an election can be set aside. In the absence of any election petition before him, he had no jurisdiction to cancel the election and that too without giving any opportunity to the petitioner.
8. I do not, therefore, think that the order of the Director of Public Libraries dated 19-1-1965 can be sustained.
9. The writ petition is, therefore, allowedand the order of the Director of the PublicLibraries dated 19-1-1965 is quashed. There willbe no order as to costs. Government pleader'sfee is fixed at Rs. 100.