K. Ramachandra Rao, C.J.
1. This appeal against the order o our learned brother Raghuvir, J. is concerned with the no-confidence motion against the Chairman, Dharmavaram Municipal Council. The appellant herein is the petitioner in the writ petition. The writ petition is filed for issue of a writ of mandamus declaring that the resolution expressing no-confidence against Sri G. Pradasaradhi, Chairman of the Dharmavaram Municipality is null and void.
2. The essential averments in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition may be stated. The appellant petitioner is a Councillor of Darmavaram Municipality and the Municipal Council comprises twenty four members. Regarding the no-confidence motion proposed to be discussed on 8-12-1983, the Chairman filed writ petition, being W.P. No. 10986/83 questioning the validity of the said motion and this Court in Writ Petition Misc. Petition 15080/83 issued a direction that the meeting should go on and the result should not be announced pending further orders in the writ petition. The Meeting was held on 8-12-1983 in the Municipal office and nineteen councillors were present. Eleven councillors including the petitioner submitted memorandum to the second respondent, i.e., the Revenue Divisional Officer, to conduct voting by secret ballot. But, however, the voting was done by show of hands. The councillors who voted in favour of the no-confidence motion, were brought by Sri Peddayya under police escort to the meeting and soon after the meeting the said group of councillors were taken away under the police escort. It is stated that the voting by show of hands was illegal and the meeting was not conducted in accordance with law.
3. In the counter-affidavit filed by the Revenue Divisional Officer, the second respondent in the writ petitioner, it is stated that eleven councillors made a representation that the voting should be done by secret ballot and on the other hand fourteen councillors represented that the voting should be taken by show of hands. The meeting conducted on 8-12-1983 is for the specific purpose of no-confidence motion and the conduct of voting by show of hands is in accordance with the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Municipalities Act. It is not necessary to traverse the other averments denying certain allegations made by the petitioner in his affidavit.
4. The learned counsel for the petitioner, Sri, P. Babul Reddy, contended that the conduct of election by secret ballot is in consonance with the democratic principles and the expression 'put to vote' occurring in Section 46(9) of the Andhra Pradesh Municipalities Act has to be construed as voting by secret ballot and not by show of hands, and the secret ballot provided for election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman should be adopted for no-confidence motion also and the expression 'put of vote' in Section 46(9) should be interpreted accordingly. The learned counsel Sarvasri P. Ramachandra Reddy and N.V. Suryanarayana Murthy for respondents contended that the expression 'put to vote' comprises the method of voting by show of hands as distinct from Rs.8 (2) of the Rules under the Act envisaging secret ballot only for the election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman and the voting by show of hands is not derogatory to democratic traditions.
5. To appreciate the rival contentions it is necessary to get at the relevant provisions of the Statute, S.46 of the Andhra Pradesh Municipalities Act formaulates the procedure for expressing no-confidence in Chairman of Vice-Chairman and sub-sections (2), (7), (8) and (9) are as follows: -
'(2) A written notice of intention to make the motion, in such form as may be specified by the Government signed by such number 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 be delivered in person by any two of the elected councillors signing the notice to the District Collector in the case of a special or selection grade municipality, or to the Revenue Divisional Officer in the case of any other municipality.
(7) As soon as the meeting convened under this section commences, the District Collector or the Revenue Divisional Officer as the case may be, shall read to the council the motion for the consideration of which the meeting has been convened, and declare it to be open for debate.
(8) No debate of any motion under this section shall be adjourned.
(9) Such debate shall automatically determine on the expiration of two hours from the time appointed for the commencement of the meeting if it not concluded earlier. On the conclusion of the debate o on the expiration of the said period of two hours, whichever is earlier, the motion shall be put to vote.'
6. Section 23(1) of the Act relating to election of Chairman and Vice-Chariman is as follows:
'Every council shall elect one of its elected councillors to be its Chairman in the manner prescribed'.
7. Rules 8(1) and (2) pursuant to prescription in Section 23(1) are as follows:
'(1) If there is only one validly nominated candidate, he shall be declared to have been elected.
(2) If there are two or more candidates, an election shall be held lbyf secret ballot.'
8. It is patent from the provisions that the modalities for election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman and no-confidence motion envisage a different and distinct bearing. In so far as the election, the voting by secret ballot alone is postulated. In the context of set up of Section 46, similar connotation cannot be attributed to the expression 'put to vote'. The expression 'vote' (noun) according to Chamber's Twentieth Century Dictionary means.
'expression of a wish or opinion as to a matter in which one has interest; that by which a choice is expressed; as a ballot; decision by a majority; something granted by the will of the majority'.
Vote (verb) means.
'express the choice by vote', 'to choose by vote' 'to grant by vote' (coll) to delcare by general consent.'
9. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the expression 'vote' means.
'n. formal expression of will or opinion in regard to election of officer, etc. sanctioning law, passing resolution, expressing thanks etc.
Signified by ballot, show of hands, voice or otherwise.'
Accordance to the Webster Encyclopaedic Dictionary, the expression 'vote' means.
'a vow, wish, will, from voveo votum, to vow (seen also in devote, debut vow). The expression of a desire, preference, or choice in regard to any measure proposed, in which the person voting has an interest in common with others; a suffrage; that by which will or preference is expressed in elections or in deciding proposals; a ballot; a ticket etc, a thing conferred by vote; a grant-vi voted. To give a vote; to express or signify the mind, will, or preference in election men to office or the like v.t. To elect by some expression of will; to enact, establish, or grant by vote'.
10. According to Stroud's Judicial Dictionary, the expression 'vote' means:
'(1) There are two well known methods of voting. (1) by show of hands, and (2) by a poll; and the essence of the former method is that the hands are held up and counted by decision of the eye.'
(per Chitty, J., Ernest v. Loma Gold Mines Ltd. (1896) 2 Ch. 572)'.
11. The expression 'put to vote' comprises wide coverage, taking in its fold show of hands and secret ballot as well. The slant towards openness and voting by show of hands is discernible in the statutory scheme of section 46. The initiation of no-confidence notion is by written notice signed by not less than half of the sanctioned strength of the council as provided by Section 46(2). By this move half of the councillors are openly committed in favour of no-confidence at the initial stage itself. The signing on the written notice and the presentation of the same is known to all when the meeting is convened in accordance with sub-section (3) and absolutely no secrecy is visualised. On he day the meeting is convened the Collector or Revenue Divisional Officer reads the motion for consideration and declares it to be open for debate. The debate affords an opportunity to all members for expression of their views or grievances openly on the merits and demerits of the proposed no-confidence motion. In the debate every member is entitled to participate and express views in favour or against the motion without reservation and secrecy is totally eluded. The Chairman is not inhibited from participating in the deliberations and two hours debate is provided for consideration of the motion in depth and for persuasion by mutual discussion and for providing opportunity to the Chairman or his supporters to project the cause of the Chairman. The stipulation of two hours debate facilitates the members to appreciate and take stock of diverse shades of opinion in depth and arrive at a conclusion without being surcharged by emotion or swayed by extraneous considerations. The debate reflects open and free discussion and exposition of rival postures and cross-current of outspoken views. The appropriate follow-up of such debate is final lap of show of hands and the recourse to secret ballot is apparently incongruous. Further, expedition is the essence of the procedure for no-confidence motion. The Collector or the Revenue Divisional Officer is obligated to convene the meeting for consideration of the no-confidence motion within one month from the date of the written notice. On the conclusion of the debate or on the expiration of the period of two hours, whichever is earlier, the motion shall be put to vote, and the result has to be declared forthwith, and on such declaration of passing of no-confidence motion, the Chairman or the Vice-Chairman ceases to hold office., Voting by show of hands is an expeditious procedure when compared to the method of secret ballot. The mode of voting by ballot is time consuming porcess as ballot papers have to be printed and furnished to each of the voters and ballot boxes have to be arranged and after the votes are exercised the ballot boxes have to be opened and votes counted and the result declared thereafter. Section 46 provides a self-contained procedure whereby the expression of no-confidence is expected to be finalised within a short time and the voting by show of hands contributes to expedition.
12. The apprehension that different methods and procedures may be followed by different Collectors or Revenue Divisional Officers with regard to the mode of voting in respect of a no-confidence motion culminating in arbitrary exercise of power, does not per se make the provision unconstitutional or illegal if the method and procedure followed is fair and proper. In the instant case no single instance of irregularity is alleged and no infirmity with regard to the procedure is indicated, and as such, the procedure adopted by the Revenue Divisional officer satisfies the requirement under Section 46(9) of the Act. Further the majority of the Councillors present in the meeting expressed that the voting should be by show of hands and as such the voting by show of hands cannot be considered to be unfair or illegal or contrary to the provisions of the Statute.
13. In the result the order of the learned single Judge is confirmed. Writ Appeal dismissed. No costs. Advocate's fee Rs.250/-.
14. Appeal dismissed.