Henry Richards, Kt. C.J. Pramada Charan Banerji and Tudball, JJ.
1. This appeal arises out of an election for the municipality of Shahjahanpur. It appears that Lala Nand Ram was a candidate for election and was declared duly elected, Chote Lal and Lachmi Narain presented a petition, under Rule 42 of the election rules framed by the Local Government, in the Munsif's court. The result of the petition was that the election of Lala Nand Ram was declared void. Nand Ram, thereupon, presented an appeal to the District Judge. The District Judge held that he had no jurisdiction and dismissed the appeal. Nand Ram has now appealed to this Court.
2. It is argued on his behalf, first, that the rules framed by the Local Government are ultra vires; and, secondly, that even if these rules are valid, the order of the Munsif was a 'decree' from which an appeal lay to the District Judge. Section 187 of the Municipalities Act, I of 1900, provides that the Local Government may frame forms for any proceeding of a 'Board for which it considers that a form should be provided and may after previous publication make rules consistent with the Act and applicable to all Municipalities.' Clause (h) provides for the making of rules 'generally for regulating all elections under the Act.' The contention of Nand Ram is that the powers of the Government are confined to making rules regulating matters up to election, but that for matters arising after the election there is no power conferred by the Act upon the Local Government to make rules. In our opinion, although the clause is not very happily expressed, the words used are wide enough to permit of the Local Government framing rules connected with elections, whether before or after the counting of votes and declaration of the poll, and that it was within the power of the Government to frame rules providing for the decision of questions relating to the validity of municipal elections. In pursuance of the powers conferred by Section 187 the Local Government framed the following rule: 'The validity of an election made in accordance with these rules shall not be questioned except by a petition presented to a competent court, within fifteen days after the day on which the election was held, by a person or persons enrolled in the municipal election roll.' Clause (2) of this rule is as follows: 'If the election be declared void, the person whose election was questioned shall, as from the date of the decision of the court trying the petition, vacate his office as member of the Board, and shall, if the court which tried the petition so direct, be disqualified for any period not exceeding five years from being elected as member of the Board.' This rule is very vague and unsatisfactory. To refer the parties to a 'competent court' without giving any definition of that tribunal, was certainly calculated to create great confusion and uncertainty, as also was the omission to provide expressly that the decision of the tribunal should be final. We are glad to say that the Government contemplate an alteration of the rules, which in our opinion is very much needed. Giving the best construction we can to this rule, we consider that it was intended to provide that the validity of municipal elections should only be tested by an election petition presented to one tribunal, and that the decision of that tribunal should be final. The same view has been taken by a Bench of this Court in the case of Khunni Lal v. Raghunandan Prasad (1913} I.L.R., 35 All., 450. The Second Additional Judicial Commissioner of Oudh took a similar view in the case of Sundar Lal v. Muhammad Faiq (1912) 16 Oudh Cases, 136. If this view be correct (and on the whole we think it is) then the decision of the Munsif was final and no appeal lay to the lower appellate court, and the appeal was properly dismissed. We dismiss the appeal. We direct the parties to bear their own costs.