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Bhushanlal Sahu and ors. Vs. Jamunadas Sukhwani and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElection
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. No. 408 of 1982
Judge
Reported inAIR1983MP168
ActsMadhya Pradesh Municipalities Act, 1961 - Sections 19, 20, 21 and 70
AppellantBhushanlal Sahu and ors.
RespondentJamunadas Sukhwani and ors.
Appellant AdvocateM.V. Tamaskar, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateA.K. Khas Kalam, Adv.
DispositionRevision allowed
Cases Referred and State of W. B. v. Union of India
Excerpt:
- - ' it is the most natural and genuine exposition of a statute, laid down lord coke, to construe one part of a statute by another part of the same statute, for that best expresses the meaning of the makers......to make rules regulating the mode or method of election of councillors, the mode or method of selection by single transferable vote and time of selection of councillors. section 19 thus envisages two categories of councillors in a municipal council, i. e.. elected councillors and selected councillors. the elected members are to select a few councillors in accordance with clause (b) of sub-section (1) of that section. no third category of councillors is envisaged under the act. the formation of a municipal council is complete when the elected councillors select a few more councillors as prescribed. however the business of the council is conducted and regulated in accordance with the provisions contained in chapter iii. for this purpose, section 70 provides that every council shall.....
Judgment:
ORDER

B.C. Varma, J.

1. An election petition was filed before the District Judge. Durgunder Section 20 of the Madhya PradeshMunicipalities Act, 1961 by the non-applicant No. 1, Jamunadas challengingthe election of applicants Shyamlal andDwarendra Verma and non-applicants 2and 3. Rama Pandey and Bhulau Vermaas members of the Standing Committeeof Municipal Council. Bemetara. Anobjection was raised as to the maintainability of the election petition. By theimpugned order, that objection has beenoverruled and the election petition hasbeen held to be maintainable. In thisrevision, the question raised for consideration, therefore, is whether ah electionpetition under Section 20 of the Act is maintainable against the election of councillors as members of Standing Committeeof the Municipal Council,

2. Chapter II of the Act deals with constitution of municipalities. Section 18 requires that there shall be constituted for each municipality a council having authority over the municipality. It shall be a body corporate by the name of the Council of its municipality. According to Section 19. each council is to consist of elected and selected councillors. Sub-section (2) of Section 19 permits the State Government to make rules regulating the mode or method of election of councillors, the mode or method of selection by single transferable vote and time of selection of councillors. Section 19 thus envisages two categories of councillors in a municipal council, i. e.. elected councillors and selected councillors. The elected members are to select a few councillors in accordance with Clause (b) of Sub-section (1) of that section. No third category of councillors is envisaged under the Act. The formation of a municipal council is complete when the elected councillors select a few more councillors as prescribed. However the business of the council is conducted and regulated in accordance with the provisions contained in Chapter III. For this purpose, Section 70 provides that every council shall have a committee called the Standing Committee which is to consist of such number of councillors not exceeding 9 and not less than 3 as the State Government may, by notification, specify in that behalf. According to Sub-section (2) of Section 70, every council is to elect members of a Standing Committee from among its members in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote, Such members hold office as members of the Sending Committee for a period of two years. Apart from this, a council may also elect out of its own body certain executive committees. Section 20, which occurs in Chap. II, provides for an election petition. That section runs as follows:

'20. (1) No election or selection under this Act shall be called into question except by a petition presented in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(2) Such petition may be presented on one or more of the grounds specified in Section 22--

(a) by any candidate at such election or selection: or

(b) (i) in the case of an election of aCouncillor, by any voter of the wardconcerned.

(ii) in the case of a selection of Councillor, by any Councillor;

to the District Judge, where such election or/and selection is held within the revenue district in which the Court of the District Judge is situate, and in any other case, to the Additional District Judge having the permanent seat of his Court within the revenue district in which such election or selection is held and if there be more than one such Additional District Judge within the said revenue district to such one of them as the District Judge may specify for the purpose (hereinafter such District Judge or Additional District Judge referred to as Judge).

(3) No petition presented under Sub-Section (2) shall be admitted unless--

(i) It is presented within thirty days from the date on which the result of such election or selection was notified in the Gazette: and

(ii). it is accompanied by a Government treasury receipt showing a deposit of two hundred rupees, in the case of election or selection to Class I and Class II Municipalities and one hundred rupees in the case of election or selection to Class III or Class IV Municipalities.

(4) A petitioner shall join as respondents to his petition--

(a) where the petitioner, in addition to claiming a declaration that the election or selection, as the case may be, of all or any of the returned candidates is void, claims a further declaration that he himself or any other candidate has been duly elected or selected, all the contesting candidates other than the petitioner, and where no such further declaration is claimed, all the returned candidates: and

(b) any other candidate against whom allegations of any corrupt practice are made in the petition.

(5) An election petition shall--

(a) contain a concise statement of the material facts on which the petitioner relies:

(b) set forth with sufficient particulars the ground or grounds on which the election or selection is called in question:

(c) be signed by the petitioner and verified in the manner prescribed in the Civil P. C. 1908 (V of 19081 for the verification of pleadings.'

The reliefs which can be claimed in such' an election petition filed under Section 20 are mentioned in Section 21. They are as follows;

(a) a declaration that the election or selection of all or any of the returned candidates is void, and

(b) in addition thereto, a further declaration that he himself or any other candidate has been duly elected. Sub-section (2) of Section 21 defines the expression returned candidate to mean a candidate whose name is notified in the Gazette under Section 45. Section 45 requires that every election or selection of a councillor and every election or appointment of the President or Vice-president of a Council shall be notified in the Gazette by the prescribed authority and such persons shall enter upon their respective offices from the date of such notification. The aforesaid are the relevant provisions which need consideration to resolve the questions raised in the revision.

3. An election petition before the District Judge seems to be the only mode provided under Section 20 of the Act for questioning any election or selection under the Act. Section 20 of the Act and its preceding Section 19, which as I have earlier shown. enacts that a municipal council shall consist of elected and selected councillors, appear under one Chapter, i. e., Chapter II of the Act. The sequence in which these two sections are placed and the fact that Section 20 making provisions for an election petition follows Section 19 is of vital significance in determining the scope of the words 'election or selection' appearing in Section 20. This setting of a particular section in an enactment and its division into parts or the headings do play a considerable role in explaining or limiting its operation. Chapter headings, unlike marginal notes, are admissible in the construction of a statute (See Bulmer v. I. R. C. (1967) Ch 145 and Fisher v. Raven (1964) AC-210). The law in this behalf is stated in Craies on Statute Law, Seventh Edition by S. G. G. Edgar at p. 210 in these words:

'It was at one time supposed that courts of law would not recognise the division into parts or the headings as substantive parts of the Act. But they have now won recognition as a kind of preamble to the enactments which they precede, limiting or explaining their operation.'

And at page 211, the author has extracted the following passage from Union Steamship Co. v. Melbourne Harbour Commr. (1884) 9 A. C. 365 (P. C.).

'It may be indeed that the fact of a clause being found in a certain group may in some cases possibly throw some light on its meaning.'

As Sections 19 and 20 appear under one Chapter bearing heading 'Constitution of Municipalities' and are placed in immediate sequence, it will, therefore, be reasonable to infer that the 'election or selection referred to in Section 20 has a reference to the election and selection of councillors to constitute a municipal council in terms of Section 19 and to no other section under the Act. It is the election or selection of persons constituting the council which is permitted to be challenged by an election petition. Any other election or selection under the Act for purpose other than constituting the council shall, in my, opinion, be outside the ambit of Section 20. To hold otherwise would be to enlarge the scope of that section.

4. That the above is the only reasonable inference regarding the scope of Section 20 is also borne out from its subsequent clauses and other relative provisions of the Act. Sub-section (2) of Section 20 speaks of the persons who are competent to present an election petition. They are candidates at an election or selection. Sub-clause (b) of Sub-section (2) gives a clue when it enacts that election of a councillor can also be challenged by a voter of the ward concerned and in case of a selection of a councillor, by any councillor. This provision also indicates that challenge in an election petition under Section 20 (1) is limited to the election or selection of a councillor only. What this Sub-section (2) means is that election petition may be filed by a candidate at 'such' election or selection and in addition by a voter of a ward in case of election and by a councillor in case of 'selection'. This would only be so when 'election' or 'selection' is to mean election or selection to a council. The use of the word 'such in Clause (a) of Sub-section (2) means' election or 'selection' referred to in Sub- section (1) which, as I have earlier shown, has a reference to the formation of a council.

5. Sub-section (3) of Section 20 provides for a period of limitation for filing the petition. The limitation so prescribed is thirty days from the date on which the result of such election or selection is notified in the Gazette. Such a Gazette notification is necessary only in case of election/selection of a councillor or appointment of a President/Vice-President of a council. Result of no other election under the Act is required to be so notified. It is thus clear that the period of limitation for filing an election petition prescribed under Section 20 (1) has reference only to such election or selection, the result of which is required to be notified in the Gazette. And as it is the election or selection of a councillor to the council alone that is required to be so published or notified, the period of limitation for filing the election petition is for such petitions where that election or selection is questioned. Necessarily, therefore. 'election' or 'selection' in Section 20 (1) shall mean 'election' or 'selection' to a municipal council.

6. Reference may also be made to the reliefs which can be claimed in an election petition presented under Section 20 (1). Such reliefs contained in Section 21 are as follows :--

'21. (1) A petitioner may claim--

(a) a declaration that the election or selection of all or any of the returned candidates is void: and

(b) in addition thereof, a further declaration that he himself or any other candidate has been duly elected.' Further the expression 'returned candidate' is defined in Sub-section (2) of Section 21 to mean a candidate whose name is notified in the Gazette under Section 45. I have shown above that a Gazette notification is necessary in case of every election or selection of a councillor. Thus, the relief in an election petition under Section 20 (1) is confined only against a 'returned candidate' for declaration of his election/selection void. Of course, in addition to it, the petitioner, if he was himself a candidate to such election/ selection, may also claim to be declared as duly elected/selected. This provision also supports the view that 'election' or 'selection' in Sub-section 20 (1) means 'election' or 'selection' of a councillor alone.

7. While construing Section 20 (1) in order to determine the scope of the words 'election' or 'selection' occurring therein. I have made reference to various other provisions of the Act as it is permissible to look at the whole statute in order to ascertain the meaning of a particular clause in a given statute. The law on the subject has been summarised by G. P. Singh. C. J. in his work 'Principles of Statutory Interpretation', 2nd Ed. at pages 17-18 thus :--

'Every clause , of , a statute should be construed with reference to the context and other clauses of the Act. so as, as far as possible, to make a consistent enactment of the whole statute or series of statutes relating to the subject-matter. It is spoken of as construction 'ex-visceribus actus.' It is the most natural and genuine exposition of a statute, laid down Lord Coke, 'to construe one part of a statute by another part of the same statute, for that best expresses the meaning of the makers.' To ascertain the meaning of a clause in a statute, the court must look at the whole statute, at what precedes and at what succeeds and not merely at the clause itself and the method of construing statutes that I prefer, says Lord Greene M. R.,' is to read the statute as a whole and ask oneself the question; 'In this State, in this context relating to this subject-matter, what is the true meaning of that word? As stated by Sinha C. J. 'The Court must ascertain the intention of the legislature by directing its attention not merely to the clauses to be construed but to the entire statute; it must compare the clause with the other parts of the law, and the setting in which the clause to be interpreted occurs.'

[See also Newspapers Ltd. v. State Industrial Tribunal. AIR 1957 SC 532 Re Bidie (deceased). (1948) 2 All ER 995 (CA) at p. 998 and State of W. B. v. Union of India, AIR 1963 SC 1241-1

8. On behalf of non-applicant No. 1, it was argued that the phrase 'election or selection' in Section 20 (1) cannot be limited to election of a councillor alone and must also include election of a member of a Standing Committee. This argument does not appear to be sound. Section 70, which provides for the establishment of a Standing Committee, is grouped under Chap. III of the Act relating to the 'Conduct of business' of a council. This standing Committee is thus a smaller body constituted out of the members constituting the council for efficient conduct of the business of the council. No doubt, Sub-section (2) of Section 70 says that members of the Standing Committee shall be 'elected' by the councillors and their number is to vary between 3 and 9. According to the Rules published by Local Government (Urban) Department Notification No. 47-U-XVIII, dt. 10-4-1962, and published in the M. P. Gazette, Part II. dt. 13-4-1962, all orders made by the Standing Committee shall be subject to the right of appeal to the Council. Even these Rules do not contain any provision for any election petition. No provision is made for publication or notification of the result of the election of members of the Standing Committee. These members assume charge of their office the moment they are elected. Although, therefore, in Section 80 of the Act, the members of the Standing Committee are said to be elected, it is not the same thing as election of eligible persons to constitute the Municipal Council. I have earlier shown that it is the election or selection of persons to a Municipal Council alone which can be questioned by an election petition under Section 20 of the Act. Therefore, merely because in Section 70 the word 'elect' occurs, that election cannot be equated with the election of persons as Councillors. I am, therefore, of the opinion that the election of certain members of councillors to form a Standing Committee being not the election of persons as councillors itself, no election petition under Section 20 lies to challenge such election of a councillor as a member of a Standing Committee of a Municipal Council.

9. My conclusion, therefore, is that Section 20 of the Act envisages an election petition before the District Judge to question the election or selection of persons as councillors of a Municipal Council only, but does not include an election petition challenging the appointment/ election of a duly elected councillor as a member of Standing Committee of Municipal Council. This revision, therefore, must succeed and the impugned order must be set aside.

10. The revision is allowed. The impugned order is set aside and the election petition filed before the District Judge is held not maintainable and is, accordingly, hereby dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs throughout.


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