1. The appellant brought the suit out of which this second appeal arises for a declaration that the order of the Sub-Collector, Vizagapatam, dated 16th June, 1926, dismissing him from the hereditary office of village headman of Veeraghattam is ultra vires and illegal. Both the lower Courts dismissed the suit holding that the order of the Sub-Collector was not ultra vires his powers.
2. What happened in this case was that there were several complaints against the appellant, none of which was taken serious note of by the authorities. But when complaints persisted to pour in, action was ultimately taken in the year 1926 and the Sub-Collector of the place asked the Tahsildar to hold an inquiry and submit a report. The Tahsildar examined certain witnesses, framed some charges in addition to those that had been framed by the Sub-Collector and called upon the appellant to submit his explanation. He submitted an explanation on the 3rd May, 1926 and the matter was considered by the Sub-Collector who held that the appellant should not remain the : village headman of the place, 'The Village Munsif', he says:
was warned in December last not to identify himself with the factions in the village ; and it is clear that he has paid no heed to the warning. Matters have no doubt reached a point when he could hardly do so if he wished. But it is quite clear that to have as a Village Munsif a man who is the leader of a party in his village is prejudicial alike to the peace and good order of the village. I therefore dismiss the Village Munsif.
3. This order was taken on appeal under Section 23 of Madras Act III of 1895. It was confirmed and a further appeal to the Board of Revenue proved infructuous. The present suit was filed in 1933 for a declaration that the order of the Sub-Collector was ultra vires for the reason that the Sub-Collector did not observe the procedure laid down by the Act before dismissing a village officer.
4. Section 7 of the Act, so far as it is material to this case, runs thus:
The Collector may, of his own motion or on complaint and after inquiry .... dismiss the holder of any of the offices forming class (1) in Section 3, for misconduct or for neglect of duty or incapacity or for non-residence in the village or for any other sufficient cause and shall make a record of his reasons for so doing in writing.
5. The expression 'Collector' obviously includes 'Sub-Collector.' Under Section 23 of the Act from every order passed by a Collector under Section 7 an appeal lies to the District Collector and thereafter to the Board of Revenue within three months from the order of the District Collector on appeal. In this case it cannot be said that the provisions of Section 7 were not complied with. There was an inquiry and the Sub-Collector has recorded what he considers to be a sufficient cause why the appellant should not be allowed to continue as the village headman. What is said, however, is that the provisions of the Board's Standing Order 147, Rule 8 have not been followed. That rule provides that in the case of charges preferred against a village officer the witnesses shall be examined in the presence of the accused. In this case it is said that no evidence was recorded by the Sub-Collector and that the examination of the witnesses was not made in the presence of the village officer. This matter has not received the attention that it deserves in the Courts below. What appears is that the Tahsildar examined certain witnesses on a requisition by the Sub-Collector. The Sub-Collector had framed certain charges; the Tahsildar framed some more. After evidence was taken by the Tahsildar, a notice was sent to the village officer to submit his explanation, which he did. The explanation was considered by the Sub-Collector, who deemed it insufficient and dismissed the village officer. The matter was taken up on appeal under Section 23 to the District Collector, who confirmed the order of the Sub-Collector. A further appeal to the Board of Revenue proved infructuous. It is said that Rules 7 and 8 in the appendix to the Board's Standing Order No. 147 printed on page 873 of Vol. III of Board's Standing Orders were made under the power conferred by the Legislature under Section 20 of Madras Act III of 1895, that therefore the rules made are a part of the Act itself and that a violation of the rules would be a violation of the provisions of the Act.
6. It is to be observed that there is no specific finding that the evidence which was recorded by the Tahsildar was in the absence of the village officer; but it does appear that the inquiry was made by the Tahsildar. This is said to be irregular for the reason that Section 7 and the rules made under Section 20 embodied in the Standing Orders contemplate an inquiry by the Sub-Collector himself. Assuming that the rules were not strictly followed, the question is whether there is a right of separate suit. The right of the village officer to have a charge framed and then to have the witnesses examined in his presence by the Collector and the right to cross-examine the witnesses are all given under Section 7 of the Act. If any of these rights conferred upon village officers under the Act is infringed, there is a special remedy provided by the Act, namely, the right of appeal under Section 23 to the District Collector and from an order passed by the District Collector a further appeal to the Board of Revenue, and it is said that the order of the Board of Revenue or of the District Collector, shall be final. When a right is given by a special statute and a remedy is provided for the violation of the right in that very statute, ordinarily the person whose right is violated is bound to follow the remedy provided in that Act. In this case Section 23 provides the remedy for a violation of this right and the plaintiff is bound to follow the remedy granted under Section 23, namely, the right of appeal. The plaintiff did prefer an appeal under Section 23 to the District Collector and a further appeal to the Board of Revenue and failed.
7. The recent decision of a Full Bench of this Court in Secretary of State v. Jagannadham1 makes the position clear.
8. In the result the second appeal fails and is dismissed with costs. Leave to appeal is refused.