1. This is an application for revision of an order of the Collector of Cawnpore placing the names of the applicants upon a list of touts in exercise of the powers vested in him by Section 36, Legal Practitioners Act, 1879. This action was taken by him in consequence of a resolution passed by the Bar Association of Cawnpore, forwarding to him a list of persons named by the Association as touts, which list included the names of all the applicants, and also of some other persons. All the applicants, have objected to the action of the Collector on two, and only two, grounds: first, that the notice convening the meeting at which this resolution was passed was not sufficiently definite to comply with the explanation to Sub-section (1), 8. 36, Legal Practitioners Act; and, second, that the meeting at which the resolution was passed was not held in compliance with the rules of the Association. We shall deal with these points separately.
2. As to the first: the explanation to Section 36 runs as follows:
The passing of a resolution, declaring any person to be or not to be a tout, by a majority of the members present at a meeting, specially convened for the purpose, of an association of persons entitled to practise as legal practitioners in any Court or revenue office, shall be evidence of the general repute of such person for the purposes of this section.
3. It has been argued on behalf of all the applicants that the meeting of the Association at which the resolution to which we have referred was passed was not a meeting 'specially convened for the purpose,' because the notice summoning the special meeting only stated that the object was 'to consider the tout evil.' In order to Understand the meaning which this notice would convey to the members of the Association concerned, it is necessary to narrate the history of the proceedings.
4. Towards the end of the year 1926 the Collector wrote to the Secretary of the Bar Association inviting the Association to take steps 'to consider the tout evil.' On 18th December 1926, after receiving this letter, the Secretary issued a notice to the members of the Association summoning an extraordinary meeting of the Association to meet on 6th January 1927 'to consider the foul evil and to suggest the names of touts.' A meeting of the Association was held on that date, and the members then present appointed a sub-committee consisting of the Secretary and sis other members of the Association to investigate the prevalence of touting in Cawnpore, and to submit to the Association a list of persons whom the sub-committee considered to be acting as touts. On 3rd February 1927 that sub-committee presented to the executive committee of the Bar Association a list of persons whom it considered to be touts; and the executive committee thereupon issued a notice to all 'resident members' of the Bar Association, i.e., members of the Association resident in Cawnpore, summoning an extraordinary meeting of the Association for the 14th February 1927 'to consider the tout evil.' At that meeting the list of names prepared by the sub-committee of the Association was read out. If any member than present objected to the inclusion of any name, the name was, after discussion, struck off the list, and the list, as then amended, was sent to the Collector, who, acting upon it, gave all the persons named in it an opportunity of appearing before him and showing cause why they should not be included by him in a list of touts and excluded from frequenting the Courts in Cawnpore. We think that the notice convening the meeting of 14th February 1927 was, having regard to the previous proceedings, sufficiently explicit to convey to the members of the Association notice that the object of the meeting was to prepare a list of touts. This had been the object of the meeting which was held on 6th January, and that meeting had appointed a sub-committee to report to another meeting of the Association, and to frame a list of persons suspected to be touts. Any member receiving the notice summoning the meeting for the 14th February must, we think, have known that the object of that meeting would be, and could only be, to consider the report of the sub-committee, and to revise and otherwise deal with the list of names prepared by the sub-committee.
5. The second objection to the proceedings of the extraordinary meeting of the Bar Association held on 14th February 1927 is that there was not then present a quorum of the Association as required by its rules. Counsel for the applicants contends that the explanation to Section 36 (1), Legal Practitioners Act, requires that the meeting shall be 'a meeting of an association' and, therefore, must be a meeting held in accordance with the rules of the Association. His argument runs thus: Rule 34 of the Cawnpore Bar Association requires that
at all extraordinary meetings one-third of the resident members shall form a quorum, and, if any general meeting is adjourned for want of a quorum, then, for an adjourned meeting, the presence of ten members shall be sufficient to constitute a quorum;
and Rule 24 of the same rules provides that
any member, who is three months in arrears with his subscription or other dues at the date of any meeting shall not be permitted to take part, or vote at, such meeting.
6. 'On 14th February 1927 there were 90 'resident members' belonging to the Cawnpore Bar Association. Of these 66 were in arrears with their subscriptions or dues for three months or more, and 49 members attended the meeting of whom 22 were not in arrears. It has been argued on behalf of the applicants that for the purpose of determining the number necessary to form a quorum at an extraordinary meeting of the Association the whole number of 'resident members' of the Association, whether in arrears or not, must be taken (excluding, of course, former members whose names have been removed from the roll of members in consequence of failure to pay arrears of subscription or other dues); and that, since only 22 members who were not in arrears were present at the meeting on 14th February, there was no quorum. We abstain from expressing any opinion about the effect of Rules 24 and 34 in relation to the domestic concerns of the Association, because that, in our opinion, is a matter with which we are not concerned. We think that Rule 24 does not apply to this case and that the question whether the resolution of 14th February 1927 was or was not regularly passed must be determined by reference to the explanation to Section 36, Sub-section (1), Legal Practitioners Act, and not by reference to rules, such as Rule 24, which properly concern the internal management of the Association. The enactment which we have quoted does, no doubt, make membership of an association of legal practitioners a necessary qualification for voting on a resolution declaring any person to be a tout; and this may have been done by the legislature in order to prevent disputes about questions such as the question whether a particular person was or was not practising in a particular Court or locality. But we do not think that the enactment goes beyond this. It simply requires that a meeting of an Association shall be 'specially convened'; that only members of the Association present at the meeting can vote; and that the resolution shall be passed by 'a majority.' These requirements cannot, in our opinion, be affected or modified so as to make them vary according to the rules of different Associations. The rules of one Association might exclude from active participation in its affairs a member who was in arrears with his subscription. The rules of another might exclude such a member if he was in arrears for not less than three months. The rules of another might exclude only such members as were in arrears for a year. Again, the rules of an Association might require a particular quorum of members for an extraordinary meeting. That quorum might either be fixed by an absolute number, or by a proportion of the total membership; and, in the same way, the majority required by the rules might vary; but the Act only requires that 'members' shall vote, and that the resolution shall be passed by a simple majority. To take another instance: the rules of an Association might permit voting by proxy, whereas the explanation to Section 36 forbids voting in this manner.
7. In the case before us due notice was given; 49 resident members, out of a total of 90 such members, attended the meeting; and in the case of all the applicants in this and in the connected cases the voting was unanimous. Whether some of the members of the Association had or had not paid their subscriptions, they would be equally capable of forming an opinion on the question whether the applicants were or were not engaged in touting. We, therefore, think that the Secretary of the Association was right in giving to every one on the roll of members an opportunity of attending the meeting of 14th February 1927; and that the Chairman was right in recording the vote of every member who was then present. Indeed, if this had not been done, the applicants might reasonably have complained that a voice which might have been raised on their behalf had been silenced on grounds which did not in any way concern the merits of the case. We wish to point out in this connexion that a resolution, such as that before us, is merely evidence upon the value of which the judicial officer to whom it is sent must form his own opinion. The resolution does not of itself settle any question; it only sets the law in motion; and we think that when forwarding such a resolution, the Secretary of an Association ought to state in his covering letter the total number of members belonging to the Association the number of those who attended the meeting and the figures of the voting for and against the resolution, all of which are matters which affect the weight that should be given to it. It is for this reason that we have dwelt upon these particulars in the present case.
8. We accordingly hold that the Collector was entitled to act upon the resolution as evidence that the persons whose names were included in the list sent to him were reputed to be touts. He considered separately the case of each of these persons, and gave them an opportunity of producing witnesses to refute the inference to be drawn from the inclusion of their names in this list. We, therefore, think that he acted within his jurisdiction and that there is no necessity for us to interfere in revision. This disposes of Civil Revision No. 166 of 1927.