Pandrang Row, J.
1. This is an appeal from the decree of the District Judge of Ramnad dismissing the plaintiff's suit for a declaration that the order dismissing him from the office of hereditary karnam of Kilkudi village passed by the Sub-Collector on 15th December, 1930, and the appellate orders of the District Collector in February, 1931, of the Revenue Board in the same year dismissing his appeals to them are illegal, void and not binding on him. The defendants were (1) the karnam who was appointed in the place of the plaintiff after his dismissal, (2) the Secretary of State for India in Council, and (3) the Rajah of Ramnad within whose zamindari the office is held, the office being one governed by Act II of 1894 and not Act III of 1895.
2. It was contended inter alia that the suit itself was not competent and that the order of the District Collector on appeal which was confirmed by the Board of Revenue in second appeal was final and cannot be canvassed in a Civil Court. On this point the decision of the Court below was in favour of the plaintiff. Whether this view is right or not is a matter which gives room for discussion, but as the dismissal of the suit on the other ground, that is to say, on the merits, can be supported, we find it unnecessary to decide the question whether the suit itself is maintainable or not. On the merits, the only objection taken to the order dismissing plaintiff-appellant is that he was not heard or given notice by the Sub-Collector before he was dismissed though the dismissal-was because he had been convicted of a criminal offence which, in the opinion of the Sub-Collector, disqualified him for holding the office.
3. The contention of the learned Advocate for the appellant is that even before forming such an opinion, the Sub-Collector and' the District Collector were bound to hear the convicted officer before they ordered his dismissal. The procedure to be followed in the matter of the dismissal of village officers under Act II of 1894 is to be found in Section 16 of the Act. Sub-section (2) of that section runs as follows:
The District Collector or the Revenue Officer aforesaid, may, of his own motion or on complaint and after enquiry, fine, suspend, dismiss or remove any village officer for misconduct or for neglect of duty or incapacity as such village officer or for non-residence in the village arid shall record his reason for so doing in writing and furnish a copy of the same to the proprietor and to the village officer concerned. Every village officer convicted of an offence of the kind mentioned in Sub-section (1)(e) of Section 10 shall be dismissed.
4. It will be seen therefore that in the case of officers who come within Sub-section (1)(e) of Section 10, it is not specifically provided that any enquiry should be held or that they should be given notice. It may be, as is contended on behalf of the appellant, that it is not very reasonable not to give the same opportunity for being heard when the dismissal is ordered in view of Sub-section (1)(e) of Section 10 of the Act when such an opportunity is given in cases of dismissal on other grounds or other charges and it is certainly desirable prima facie that an order of serious consequence like an order of dismissal should not be made without giving a hearing to the person affected. But we cannot decide in this case what we consider to be the appropriate procedure in cases of this kind. Where it is sought to attack an order of dismissal passed by the Sub-Collector which was confirmed by the District Collector and the Board of Revenue as void and illegal, we must be satisfied that there was a defect in the procedure adopted before the dismissal was ordered which was so important and so serious that it renders the order of dismissal a nullity. There is no specific provision that in the case of dismissal of village officers who have been convicted of offences which in the opinion of the Revenue Divisional Officer disqualify them for holding the office, they should be heard before the order of dismissal is made. It may be a lacuna but we are not able to say definitely it is a lacuna and we cannot ignore the plain words of the section which while requiring notice and enquiry in other cases in the same section make no mention of any such requirement in the case of dismissal in view of Sub-section (1)(e) of Section 10. We are therefore of opinion that the conclusion of the learned District Judge on this part of the case is right and that there is no ground for interference in appeal.
5. The appeal is accordingly dismissed with costs, two sets.