Grimwood Mears, C.J. and Piggott, J.
1. The municipal elections were held in Cawnpore in March, 1923. Suraj Narain was a candidate, as was also one Muhammad Siddiq Hafia Both of these men were defeated by an opponent who secured a larger number of votes. Both of these gentlemen thought they had a case for unseating their opponents and each of them proposed to proceed under the Municipalities Act, Local Act No. II of 1916, and lodged petitions. Section 20 prescribes the form and the manner in which the petition shall be presented, and it also defines who1 are the persons who are permitted by law to present a petition. Section 22 defines who is to hear petitions, and Clause (2) of that section lays down how the proceedings may start by presentation.
2. Taking the case, first of all, of Suraj Narain, Miscellaneous Case No. 211 of 1923, the material dates and facts are as follows: The election was held on the 20th of March, 192S, and on the 23rd of March Suraj Narain attended the court of the Collector. The petition which he had with him was, as regards formal parts, in proper form; that is to say it was headed as being a matter which would be dealt with in the court of the Commissioner (it was stated to be presented 'through the Collector, Cawnpore district') and recited that it was a petition under Section 19 of the United Provinces Municipalities Act No. II of 1916. When Suraj Narain reached the court the Collector had not arrived, but the Joint Magistrate was sitting; and the Joint Magistrate, in answer to an inquiry by the petitioner, has recorded in a letter of the 7th of April, that a practice does exist in that court, which undoubtedly is for the convenience of the public, whereby petitions intended for the Collector are received by the Joint Magistrate and made over to the Collector on his arrival. Suraj Narain, relying upon that practice, in fact handed to the Joint Magistrate the petition, and the Joint Magistrate, in pursuance of that practice, handed over to the Collector the document. That was done on the 23rd of March. So that Suraj Narain, who had originally 15 days within which to deliver to the proper authorities a proper petition, in fact had got that petition into the hands of the proper authority, namely the Collector, by the 23rd of, March. It is suggested that we are bound to construe Sections 20 and 22 so strictly as to hold that no presentation of a petition can avail the petitioner unless the petitioner himself personally comes face to face personally with the Collector, and delivers it into the Collector's hands. That undoubtedly is the safest and wisest thing to do. But the position as regards the Collector's court at Cawnpore was that in reliance upon the praotice Suraj Narain was content to follow that practice of handing documents intended for the Collector to the Joint Magistrate. Inasmuch as the petition reached the Collector well within time, we are of opinion that it was a proper presentation and that the petition ought to have been heard and disposed of upon the merits.
3. The next case with which we propose to deal is that of Muhammad Siddiq Hafiz. because there is some similarity in the facts. We will deal with the case of Durga Shankar later.
4. The elections for this particular ward in Cawnpore were held on the 19th of March, and that gave Muhammad Siddiq Hafiz up to the 3rd of April within which to be in time for the lodgment of his election petition. Fifteen days is specified by the Act, and the first broad question which appears is, did he by any means whatever get the petition into the hands of the Collector by the 3rd of April? The answer is that he did not do so; and that, in our opinion, makes a material difference in this case. On the 3rd of April, which was the last day, we are told that he presented the petition to a Deputy Collector by name Mr. Ashiaq Husain. There is, not in the papers relating-to this case any evidence which suggests that there was any practice whereby this Deputy Collector was authorized, or was accustomed, short of actual authorization, to receive petitions of that, nature and was a recognized official channel for their transmission to the Collector. That being so, we think that the petitioner in this case took the risk. If it happened that the Deputy Collector had forwarded the document to the Collector within time and the Collector had chosen to accept it from the Deputy Collector, that might possibly have been a good presentation. We do not say that it would have been a good-presentation,--that matter would have to be inquired into with some care and might depend to some extent on whether we believed that there was in existence, a recognized practice. However we are satisfied that, in the absence of any evidence of that character, the petitioner, when he handed the document to the Deputy Collector who no doubt gave him an assurance that it would be forwarded to the Collector, took the risk of it reaching the Collector within time. It did not reach the Collector within time and was not received by him until the 4th of April. In these circumstances we hold, as regards the petition of Muhammad Siddiq Hafiz, that the petition was not presented within time and is one which should not be entertained.
5. We now come to the petition of Durga Shankar. He,-like Muhammad Siddiq Hafiz, handed the petition to a Deputy Collector, and again there is no evidence on this record that the Deputy Collector was a recognized channel for the transmission of these documents. We need not decide whether that petition was properly presented, for this reason that we are unable to understand how Durga Shankar comes before the court as a petitioner. It appears that he was one of several candidates and that at a meeting it was considered desirable that there should not be so many candidates but that the choice of the two gentlemen who should contest the ward was left to the decision of a gentleman, of high standing, who was regarded by the seven candidates as being likely to make the best selection. Two gentlemen were in fact selected. Durga Shankar was amongst the five whose names were passed over; and he, having the belief that a candidate who was thus declared elected could be unseated on various grounds, conceives that he has a right to come forward and raise that question. These petitions can be lodged by a candidate in whose favour votes have been recorded and who claims in the petition to be declared elected in the room of the person whose election is questioned, that is, a person who went through the contest, in whose favour votes were recorded and who alleges that, after strict scrutiny of votes and striking off the names of people who should not have voted, or by reason perhaps of disqualification of the person, who has been elected, he himself will be the person who will become the elected member in the event of the petition being inquired into and upheld. That is the only one person who can (present a petition; but a body of men, ten or more electors, may join together and present a petition. Durga Shankar's position in this case is that he has no locus; standi in the matter of law, and on that ground was incompetent to present a petition, and on that ground his petition must be rejected.
6. Mr. Stowell, the Commissioner, also inquires whether a petition must be duly verified in accordance with the rule applicable to plaints. We think not. When the petition has been duly presented, the hearing follows along the lines prescribed for a civil suit. The Act is silent as to the verification of the petition and it is only after due presentation of the petition that the civil suit procedure rules operate. We are therefore of opinion that a petition need not be verified.