(1) This is a petitioners under articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of the India and is directed against the order of Assistant Development Commissioner Election Tribunal Constituted under rule 59 of the Delhi Panchayat Raj Rules 1959. The petitioners contested the election of Pritampura in Delhi State. The petitioners election was called in question by an election petitioners preferred under rules 57 and 58 of the Delhi Panchayat Raj Rules 1959. These rules have been framed by the Chief Commissioner under section 102 of the Delhi Panchyat Act.
(2) One of the grounds on which the election was challenged was that the petitioners had been convicted of an offense under section 19(1) of the Indian Arms Act, he being in possession of an unlicensed revolver. the fact the petitioners was in possession of an unlicensed revolver is not disputed; so also the fact of the conviction under section 19(1). Under rule 57 an election can only be set aside. so far as the present case in concerned if the result of the election has been materially affected by the improper acceptance or rejection of any nomination or by gross failure to comply with the provisions of the Act or the rules framed thereunder. The only other ground mentioned in the section is that the election has not been a free election by reason that the corrupt practice of bribery or undue influence has extensively prevailed at the election. The try on the basis of the conviction of the petitioners has come to the conclusion that there was an improper acceptance of the nomination papers of the petitioners inasmuch as he was not qualified to stand for the election in view of the pervasions of section 153 of the Delhi Land Reforms act 1954. This section provides that no person shall be entitled to be or remain a member of the Goan Panchayat if he is convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude.
(3) The order of the Tribunal is being impugned by the present petitioners. The learned counsel for the petitioners has raised as many as 5 points; but it is not necessary to advert to all of them excepting the one on the basis of which the petitioners else has been set aside namely that an offence under section 19(1) is an offence which involves moral turpitude.
(4) The short question that I have to consider is whether the possession of an unlicensed fire arm which is an offence under section 19(1) is an offence which involves moral turpitude. 'Moral turpitude' is a phrase which can hardly be accurately diffident. It can have various shades of meaning in the various sets of circumstances. Normally as this phrase is understood it is used in law with reference to crimes which refer to conduct that is inherently base vile or depraved and contrary to the accepted rules of morality whether it is or is not punishable as a crime. They do not refer to conduct which before it was made punishable as a crime was generally not regarded may be made to 'Words and Phrases 'Permanent Edition, Volume 27 page 557. At the same page there are quotations to the offense involving moral turpitude. In Baleshwar Singh v. District Magistrate and Collector Banaras A.I.R. 1959 All 71 J. K. Tandon J, while dealing with this expression held:--
'The expression 'moral turpitude 'is not defined anywhere. But it means anything done contrary to justice honesty modesty or good morals. It implies depravity and wickedness of character or disposition of the person charged with the particular conduct. Every false statement made by a person may not be moral turpitude but it would be so if it discloses vileness or depravity in the doing of any private and social duty which a person owes to his fellowmen or to the society in general.'
(5) In this case the learned Judge was dealing with the case of a prosecution under Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code and it was held that the conviction of a person under this provision would amount to 'moral turpitude. 'No case has been brought to my notice where a conviction under section 19(1) has been held to amount to moral turpitude. In the presence case there is no allegation that the antecedents of the petitioners are such that he is engaged in some nefarious activities for the purpose of which he carries the fire-arm. Very often period people keep fire-arms for the personal safety and some times they resort to keeping fire-arms without license when they feel that their statues in society is not such as would enable them to get a license from the authorities. It is a matter of common knowledge that during the British period the license for a revolver was very rarely granted to a citizen and it may be that while possessing the unlicensed fire-arms the petitioners may have been influenced by this consideration. I am therefore unable to hold that in the Circumstances of this case the possession of an unlicensed revolver in any manner amounts to moral turpitude.
(6) That being so the very substratum of the order of Election Tribunal goes and therefore this petitioners must seceded and the impugned order quashed. The petitioners is allowed and the impugned order is quashed. In the Circumstances of the case however there will be no order as to costs.
(7) Petition allowed.