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Dr. B.N. SarIn Vs. State of U.P. and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMunicipal Tax
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ No. 3476 of 1966
Judge
Reported inAIR1967All465
ActsUttar Pradesh Municipalities Act, 1916 - Sections 87A
AppellantDr. B.N. Sarin
RespondentState of U.P. and ors.
Appellant AdvocateK.C. Saxena and ;S.C. Khare, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateT.P. Asthana, ;S.N. Kakkar, ;R.N. Bhalla and ;Sridhar, Advs.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....asked certain members to explain their misconduct, they arranged a motion of non-confidence against him'.he has requested the secretary to suspend the members mentioned in his letter. the principles of enquitable estoppel by acquiescence and want of good faith would stand in his way. instead of so informing the district magistrate he kept the fortuitous lacuna as a close secret to himself and knowingly suffered pretty good public time and public money to be invested in the meeting. justice tandon thought that the representation would help him to get over the bar of the principles of estoppel by acquiescence and of want of good faith......of the notice should be sent tothe president municipal board for information and displaying on the notice board of the board's office. copies were also to be sent to the tahsildar farrukhabad. mukhya adhikari zila parishad, nazir sadar, the information officer and the station officer, kotwali, farrukhabad for publicity. mazhar husain khan, local bodies clerk, collectorate, farrukhabad, has stated in his counter-affidavit that copies were sent to the various officers on august, 24.the copy meant for the president of the municipal board was sent to the tehsildar, sadar farrukhabad for transmission to the former. the rejoinder affidavit includes a letter from the executive officer of the municipal board to the president stating what it was found from office enquiry and examination of the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

S.N. Dwivedi, J.

1. The Municipal Board of Farrukhabad--Fatehgarh consists of 25 members. The petitioner. Dr. B.N. Sarin, was its President and accordingly, an ex officio member of it. On September 9, 1966, a resolution of no-confidence was passed against him. He says that the resolution is illegal and ineffective inasmuch as the meeting of the Municipal Board m which it was passed was convened illegally.

2. His contention is founded on the circumstance that no notice of the meeting was ever sent to him. The meeting convened without notice even to a single member is illegal. He has sought to support his contention by authorities: W. Smyth v. H.F. Darley, (1849) 9 ER 1293, Dobson v. Fussy, (1831) 131 E.R. 117 Young v. Ladies Imperial Club, 1920-2 KB 523, Radha Kishan Jaikishan v. Municipal Committee Khandwa, , Hari Dutt Bahuguna v. State of U. P., Civil Misc Writ No. 2427 of 1959 D/-19-11-1959 by Tandon J (All.) and K. N. Misra v Chancellor. University of Allahabad, Civil Misc. Writ No. 1501 of 1965 D/-3-12-1965 : (AIR 1967 All. 107).

3. Respondents admit that no notice of the meeting was sent to him. But their contention is that he had full knowledge of the date, time, place and purpose of the meeting and that accordingly the omission to send a notice of the meeting to him is not a material consideration. They also say that as he had full knowledge of the meeting and wilfully abstained from attending the meeting, he should not be permitted to challenge the resolution of no-confidence for want of notice only. For this purpose they rely on a decision of Mr. Justice B.N. Nigam in Radhey Shyam Maheshowari v District Magistrate Hardoi, Civil Misc. Writ No. 50 of 1966 D/-28-1-1966 (All.).

4. Counsel for the petitioner has submitted that in similar circumstances Mr. Justice Tandon has held in his judgment referred to earlier that the President was not 'disentitled' from challenging the resolution of no-confidence for want of notice to him. It is also said that in the circumstances of the case the petitioner was under no obligation to take notice of the meeting and attend it. In support of this argument he relies on 62 C. J. S. 754, 9 Halsubury's Laws of England. Third Edition, 46, and Societe Generate De Paris v. Tramways Union Co. Ltd., (1884) 14 QBD 424.

5. I shall first take up the question whether in spite of want of notice the petitioner was aware of the date, time, place and purpose of the meeting. The motion of no-confidence against the petitioner was presented by certain members of the Municipal Board to the District Magistrate on August 9, 1966. The District Magistrate made a direction on August 19 that notices of the meeting should be sent to all the members He had also directed that a copy of the notice should be sent tothe President Municipal Board for information and displaying on the notice board of the Board's office. Copies were also to be sent to the Tahsildar Farrukhabad. Mukhya Adhikari Zila Parishad, Nazir Sadar, the information Officer and the Station Officer, Kotwali, Farrukhabad for publicity. Mazhar Husain Khan, Local Bodies Clerk, Collectorate, Farrukhabad, has stated in his counter-affidavit that copies were sent to the various officers on August, 24.

The copy meant for the President of the Municipal Board was sent to the Tehsildar, Sadar Farrukhabad for transmission to the former. The rejoinder affidavit includes a letter from the Executive Officer of the Municipal Board to the President stating what it was found from office enquiry and examination of the receipt register that no copy of the notice of the meeting was received in the Municipal office from the District Magistrate or any other authority and that there was, therefore, no question of its, pasting on the notice-Board for publication. So the fact of the sending of any copy of the notice to the president of the Municipal Board is not free from doubt but there seems to be, little doubt that the copies of the notice were sent to other officers. It may be presumed that those officers must have given publicity to the meeting as directed by the District Magistrate.

6. On August 24, the District Magistrate sent a letter to the Temporary Civil and Sessions Judge, Farrukhabad, who was appointed to preside over the meeting. The letter is Annexure II to the counter-affidavit of Mazhar Hussain Khan. At the top the letter mentions the subject of correspondence' 'no-confidence motion against the President, Municipal Board Farrukhabad'. It informs him that a copy of the notice of the meeting along with the list of the members was being sent to him. It further states that the typewriter will be arranged by the Executive Officer, Municipal Board and that he was being informed accordingly. At the bottom of the letter there is a note that a copy of the letter was being 'forwarded to the Executive Officer, Municipal Board, Farrukhabad (by name) with the remark that he will arrange for a typewriter for the use of the Civil and Sessions Judge on 9-9-1966.'

The receipt of a copy of this letter by the Executive Officer is not denied by the petitioner. But he says, firstly, that the letter purported to inform the Executive Officer about making arrangement for a typewriter for the use of the Civil and Sessions Judge and, secondly, that the Executive Officer did not inform him of 'the holding of the meeting of no-confidence on 9th of September, 1966.' The letter clearly speaks about the meeting called on September 9, 1965 to consider the motion of no-confidence against the President; Admittedly the Executive Officer received it in time. I find it difficult to believe the petitioner when he says that the Executive Officer did not inform him of the meeting. The Executive Officer would surely take him in confidence before arranging for a typewriter for the use of the Presiding Officer of the meeting.

It is significant to notice that although the petitioner has taken care to obtain a letter from the Executive Officer regarding the non-receipts of the copy of the meeting, he has not filed any letter or affidavit of the Executive Officer to support his case that the Executive Officer did not inform him of the meeting. The absence of such a letter or affidavit is suggestive of the fact that the Executive Officer is not prepared to support him. Having regard to all the circumstances I think that the Executive Officer had informed him of the copy of the letter of the District Magistrate regarding the typewriter.

7. Shanker Lal Gupta, the respondent No. 7. is member of the Board. He has also filed a counter-affidavit. He has stated that the petitioner came to know of the date, time place and the purpose of the meeting pretty long before the date of the meeting. In support of his version he has filed the affidavits of several members of the Board. These affidavits show that the petitioner had been canvassing amongst the members for voting against the motion since August 25, 1966.

Shanker Lal Gupta has also filed copies of extracts from several newspapers of various dates which were in circulation in Farrukhabad. These newspapers are the Daily Jauhar, Dainik Veer Arjun, National Herald, Gadar and Chattan. The extracts show that the newspapers had been discussing the motion of no-confidence and its prospects from August, 9, to September 8. The petitioner says that as he has got a large medical practice, he had no time to read any one of these papers.

8. I am unable to believe that although there was publicity of the meeting by several officers as directed by the District Magistrateand the newspapers had been discussing the matter since August, 9, the petitioner did not get any information of the date, time, place and purpose of the meeting. Farrukhabad is not a very big town. The no-confidence motion was a burning topic of the day. In his own letter of September 8 to the Secretary to Government Local-self Department. Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow (Annexure '1' to the counter affidavit of Mazhar Hussain Khan), he has complained that when he asked certain members to explain their misconduct, 'they arranged a motion of non-confidence against him'.

He has requested the Secretary to suspend the members mentioned in his letter. This letter would show that he was aware of the fact that there was hanging over his head the threat of the motion of no-confidence. He says that only some vague rumours about a no-confidence motion had reached him and that he was not aware of the time and place of the meeting. I am not inclined to believe him. It, may also be noticed that his petition was not supported by his own affidavit but by the affidavit of his brother, Gokul Nath SinghSarin. In paragraph 5 of the petition it was stated that when the petitioner received the resolution of no-confidence from the Presiding Officer on September 9, he 'has learnt about the proposed motion of no-confidence against him'. This averment was not properly verified by Gokul Nath Singh Sarin. The verification was that the averment was 'based on my personal knowledge'. As the verification was defective the Court directed that the petitioner should file his own affidavit. An affidavit accordingly was filed by him, but it is significant that his affidavit makes no averment that he was ignorant of the meeting, Again there is no ground to that effect in the petition.

9. Having regard to all the facts and circumstances of the case I have no doubt in my mind that the petitioner had obtained knowledge of the date, time, place and purpose of the meeting shortly after the convening of the meeting by the District Magistrate.

10. There is no dispute between the parties that no notice of the meeting was sent to him I would assume that the meeting was not properly convened, but can he be permitted to question the resolution for want of notice? I am of firm opinion that he should not be permitted to do so.

11. The substance of the story may now be summed up in this manner: the District Magistrate made a direction that a notice of the meeting should be sent to all the members; Somebody in his office made a mistake and no notice of the meeting was sent to the petitioner. But he had obtained knowledge of the date, time, place and purpose of the meeting shortly after the convening of the meeting by the District Magistrate on August, 8. He had, therefore, sufficient notice of the meeting. He did not deliberately attend the meeting. He kept the want of notice to him as a dose secret to himself. He did not inform the District Magistrate or any other person that he had not received the notice of the meeting. The District Magistrate and the members of the Board were ignorant of the fact that no notice had been sent to him. Had he informed the District Magistrate of the want of notice, a notice would have issued to him. It appears that he kept back the secret to himself in the hope that if the motion were passed, he would press the want of notice in service to stifle the resolution.

In the meanwhile pretty much public money and time were invested in the holding of the meeting. The counter-affidavits show that there were police arrangements in the premises of the Municipal Board office on the date of the meeting. A Civil and Sessions Judge, who would have normally devoted his time to judicial work, went to preside over the meeting. He reached the office of the Municipal Board where the meeting was scheduled to be held at 10.30 a.m. The voting took place sometime after 10.40 a.m

After the voting he must have taken some time in drawing up the proceedings. So hehas devoted about an hour in the work of the meeting which time he would have normally given to judicial work. The sixteen members of the Board did not pursue their normal duties and attended the meeting. In these circumstances I think he is estopped from questioning the resolution, for want of notice. The issue of a writ, order or direction under Article 226 of the Constitution is guided by the principles of equity. The principles of enquitable estoppel by acquiescence and want of good faith would stand in his way. (Halsbury's Laws of England Third Edition. 14, page 639, paragraph 1179, Ashburner's Principles of Equity 635-36, Ressell v. Watts, (1883) 25 Ch D 559, at p. 576, Ramsden v. Dyson, (1866) LR 1 HL 129, at p. 141; Sarat Chunder Dey v. Gopal Chunder Laha, (1893) ILR 20 Cal. 296 (P.C.) and Pome-roy Equity Jurisprudence, Fifth Edition, 143, Paragraph 404). In Russell's case (1883) 25 Ch D 559 Cotton L.J. said :--

'The doctrine as to a personally lying by so as to create an equity against him arises, if either he does something from which it can be reasonably inferred that he induced the other persons to think he would raise no objection to what they were doing; or if he knows facts which are unknown to the other persons acting in violation of the right which those facts give, and does not inform them about it, but lies by and lets them run into a trap.'

12. The argument of the petitioner that he was under no duty to take notice of the meeting and attend it will not help him because 'duty' in a court of equity is not confined to a legal duty only but also embraces an equitable duty. In Ramsden's case (1866) LR J H.L. 129. Lord Granworth, L.C., said :--

'If a stranger begins to build on my land supposing it to be his own, and I, perceiving his mistake, abstain from setting him right, and leave him to persevere in his error, a Court of equity will not allow me afterwards to assert my title to the land on which he had expended money on the supposition that the land was his own. It considers that, when I saw the mistake into which he had fallen, it was 'my duty' to be active and to state my adverse title, and that it would be dishonest in me to remain wilfully passive on such an occasion, in order afterwards to profit by the mistake which I might have prevented' (emphasis (here in ' ') mine).

13. The petitioner owed an equitable duty to inform the District Magistrate that no notice of the meeting had been issued to him and that accordingly the meeting was not properly convened. Instead of so informing the District Magistrate he kept the fortuitous lacuna as a close secret to himself and knowingly suffered pretty good public time and public money to be invested in the meeting.

14. To sum up, the petitioner should not be suffered to impeach the resolution for want of notice. His inequitable silence inhibits him from challenging the resolution In this view I am supported by the decision of Mr. Justice B.N. Nigam which I have cited earlier. The decision of Mr. Justice Tandon, also cited earlier, is distinguishable on facts. In that case the President got a representation made on the date of the meeting through a member to the Presiding Officer of the meeting that no notice of the meeting had been issued to him.

Even though he had pointed out the omission very late. Mr. Justice Tandon thought that the representation would help him to get over the bar of the principles of estoppel by acquiescence and of want of good faith. In the case before me the petitioner remained silent from the beginning to the end and never brought the lacuna to the notice of any body until the resolution had actually been passed.

15. For the reasons already stated thepetition is dismissed in limine and wife costswhich I assess at Rs. 300.


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