(1) This writ petition under arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution has been filed by Dhian Singh challenging the legality of the order dated 17-10-1964 passed by the Prescribed Authority under the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act respondent No. 2
(2) It appears that the election to Gram Panchyat, Kharwar, District Kangra, took place in December 1963. Three person, namely, the petitioners Gian Singh, respondent No. 5 and Chaudhry Ram respondent No. 6 filed their nomination papers for the office of Sarpanch. As a result of the election the petitioners was declared elected. This election was challenged by an election petitioners which was filed by Ranu Ram respondent No. 3 and Rulia Ram respondent No. 4 under S. 13 C of the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act 1952. A number of allegations were made for setting aside this election but in the present petitioners we are only concerned with two of them-(1) that the nomination paper of Gian Singh has been improperly rejected by the Returning Officer as he was alleged to have been in arrears of some tax imposed by the Gram Panchayat and (2) that the withdrawal application filed by Gian Singh along with several other was not valid in law. The Prescribed Authority who tried this election petitioners came to the conclusion that it has not been proved that Gian Singh was in arrears of an tax imposed by the Gram Panchayat and (2) that he withdrawal application had been filed jointly by 1-person including Gian Singh. There was no provision for collective withdrawal by the candidates and each one of them had to give a separate notice of withdrawal in writing to the returning Office. That being so there was no withdrawal by the candidate and each one of them had to give a separate notice of withdrawal in writing to the Returning Officer. That being so there was no valid withdrawal by Gian Singh. Since his nomination paper had been improperly rejected by the Returning Officer the election of the petitioners at Sarpanch was not proper and was therefore set aside. This led to the filing of the present writ petitioners by Dhian Singh.
(3) Learned counsel for the petitioners raised two contentions before me--(1) that the Prescribed Authority was in error in holding that Gian Singh was not proved to be a defaulter. His name was shown in the defaulter's list Exhibit P. F. and that was enough for the Returning Officer who had therefore validly rejected his nomination paper on that ground and (2) that the Prescribed Authority erred in law in holding that under the Rules every candidate had to file a separate withdrawal application. No such provision was made in the Rules for this purpose. A number of candidate could under the law file a joint withdrawal application.
(4) Taking the second contention first I am of the opinion that the view of law taken by the Prescribed Authority was incorrect. Rule 9(1) of the Gram Panchayat Election Rules 1960 under which a candidate can withdraw his nomination runs thus:
'Rule 9(1). Any candidate may withdraw his nomination by a notice in writing which shall be subscribed by him and delivered to the Returning Officer before the expiry of the time allowed for the withdrawal of the nomination papers.'
A plain reading of this Rule would show that the withdrawal notice by a candidate must be in writing and subscribed by him. There is no bar if a number of candidate put in a joint written application duly subscribed by them. If it was intended that each candidate should make a separate application in this respect then provision to the at effect would have been made in this Rule. As for instance R. 6(2) which deal with the filing of nomination papers clearly states that the nomination of each candidate shall be made on a separate nomination paper in For, I and must be subscribed by the candidate himself as assenting to the nomination. It means that several candidates cannot put in a joint nomination paper under this Rule. Similarly in S. 55A of the Rep of the People Act 1951 it is provided that a contesting candidate may retire from the contest by a notice in the prescribed form. Rule 9 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 it is provided that a contesting candidate may retire from the contest by a notice in the prescribed form. Rule 9 of the Representation of the People (Conduct of Election and Election Petition) Rules 1956 has prescribed the form in which such notice has to be given. This notice is in Form 5. This form clearly shows that each candidate has to make a separate application in that form. This again indicates that wherever it was desired that t separate application had to be filed by the candidate for withdrawal suitable provisions was made in the Act and the Rules made thereunder. That being so the joint withdrawal application Exhibit P. D. file din the present case was a valid one and the withdrawal by Gain Singh was in accordance with law. In view of this finding of mine it is not necessary to decide the first contention raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners. Under these Circumstances the Prescribed Authority was in error in setting aside the election of the petitioners.
(5) The result is that this writ petitioners succeeds and the impugned order dated 17-10-1964 passed by respondent No. 2 is hereby, quashed. Since there is no appearance on behalf of the respondent there will be no order as to costs.
(6) Petition allowed.