(1) This is an appeal against the order of the Election Tribunal, Tirunelveli allowing election petition No. 109 of 1957, which had been referred to him for disposal. That was a petition filed by an elector in the Alangalam constituency seeking to set aside the election of N. T. Velusami Thevar who had been declared elected to that constituency in the election held to the Madras State Assembly in 1957. For the said seat six persons filed nomination papers. The nominations were scrutinised on 1-2-1957. The nominations of five of them were accepted but the nominations of the fourth, S. Arunachala, was rejected. Two of the five candidates whose nominations had been accepted withdrew from the contest and the other three went to the polls and Velusami Thevar was declared elected by a majority of votes.
It is to set aside the election of the said Velusami Thevar that the petition out of which this appeal arises was filed. The sole ground on which the petition was founded was that the nomination paper of Arunachala had been wrongly rejected. In the election petition there were four respondents, the first respondent being Velusami Thevar, the returned candidate, respondents 2 and 3 being the two other candidates who had contested the election but had been defeated and the fourth respondent was Arunachala whose nomination had been rejected.
(2) It may be mentioned that at the time of the scrutiny of the nomination papers an objection was raised on behalf of the second respondent on the ground that Arunachala was employed as the Head master of the National Training School, Tiruchendur which was run with the Government grants in aid and as such he held an office of profit in a concern in which the State Government had financial interest. The Returning Officer upheld the objection because Arunachala did not appear to demonstrate how the objection was not tenable. He therefore rejected the nomination of Arunachala.
At the trial of the election petition the ground on which the second respondent had objected to the nomination of the fourth respondent Arunachala was practically given up but instead there were other objections which were raised, particularly by the first respondent, the returned candidate, in support of the order of rejection passed by the Returning Officer. Several grounds were alleged by the first respondent on which the fourth respondent was disqualified to stand for election. The election Tribunal held that the fourth respondent was not disqualified on any such grounds and consequently his nomination had been improperly rejected. He therefore set aside the election of the first respondent and directed a fresh election. The returned candidate, the first respondent in the election petition, is the appellant before us.
(3) On his behalf learned counsel pressed before us three grounds on which the fourth respondent was disqualified on the date on which he filed his nomination paper. We shall deal with the grounds seriatim.
(4) The first ground was that the fourth respondent who was an elector of a different constituency had failed to file alone with the nomination paper a copy of the electoral roll f that constituency or of the relevant part thereof or a certified copy of the relevant entries in such roll. Nor did he produce the same before the Returning Officer at the time of scrutiny. Actually what purported to be a certified extract from the electoral roll of the constituency in which Arunachala was an elector was filed (Ex. A. 3). On the face of it, it is certainly a certified copy of the relevant entry relating to Arunachala.
It was not suggested before us that the entry did not relate to Arunachala but to some other person. But it was contended that it cannot be deemed to be a certified copy of the relevant entry because of a correction which appears on the face of the copy. This correction consists in the scoring off of the letters 'Nadar' and the addition of the letter (m) after the name 'Sivalinga', the name of the father of Arunachala. The contention of the appellant was that this scoring off was an unauthorised correction practically amounting to tampering with the document by Arunachala himself. The motive alleged for such correction was that Arunachala belonged to a party which did not believe in caste and hence he did not like the presence of the suffix 'Nadar'.
It is not necessary for us to find out if this purpose has been established because, in our opinion, there is no conclusive proof that this correction was made after the certified copy had been given to Arunachala. The registration officer who had certified to the correctness of the copy was not examined. The original entry itself was exhibited and undoubtedly the scoring off the suffix 'Nadar' does not appear in the original entry. But the important question which remains is whether the defect was such that it would entail the rejection of the nomination paper. Section 36(4) of the Representation of the People Act has a material bearing on this question.
That sub-section says that the returning officer shall not reject any nomination paper on the ground of any defect which is not of a substantial character. Now it is obvious that the object of S. 33 sub-section (5) of the Act is that there should be evidence that the candidate in question is an elector of a different constituency. If that fact is reasonably clear and what purports to be a certified copy of the relevant entry relating to him has been filed--any defect in the copy, even if it is a defect which consisted in an interpolation or a scoring off any part of the copy, will not amount to a defect of a substantial character. We agree with the Tribunal that Arunachala's nomination need not be rejected on this ground.
(5) The next ground of disqualification is based on S. 7 clause (d) of the Act. A person shall be disqualified under this clause, if, whether by himself or by any person or body of persons in trust for him or for his benefit or on his account, he has any share or interest in a contract for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any works or the performance of any services undertaken by, the appropriate Government. The case of the appellant was that Arunachala had been selected as one of the teachers to be given training in a basic training school and he was being paid a stipend at the rate of Rs. 25 per mensem when he was undergoing that training, and therefore he would fall within the mischief of the above clause.
In the first place we do not think that this clause has any application to the facts on which this objection has been raised. The only part of the clause relevant for the purpose of deciding this objection is: 'contract for........... the performance of any services undertaken by the appropriate Government'. To understand the implication of this provision, it should be read along with the other parts of clause (d) which refer to a contract for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any works undertaken by the appropriate Government.
Here there were no such services undertaken by the appropriate Government which they entrusted by contract to Arunachala for performance. The Government approved the proposal of the Director of Public Instruction to direct the training of eighty graduate teachers for a period of five months in batches of forty each in the Gandhi Basic Training School, Periyanaickenpalayam. This scheme adumberated by the Government is part of their educational policy. It cannot fall within the scope of the expression 'any services undertaken by the appropriate Government'. Therefore it is clear that Arunachala could not have been entrusted with the performance of any services undertaken by the Government.
(6) Nevertheless as the learned counsel for the appellant took some time to take us through the documents and evidence relating to this objection, we shall briefly refer to it. After the Government had approved the proposal of the Director of Public Instruction for giving basic training to certain selected graduate teachers, it is common ground that Arunachala was one of such graduates selected to join the training.
It is also common ground that Arunachala joined the batch which was given basic training at the Gandhi Basic Training School at Periyanaickenpalayam, Coimbatore district. Arunachala who had decided t stand for election to the Assembly, to avoid any complication addressed a letter to the Correspondent of the National Training School, Tiruchendur of which he was the Headmaster, submitting his resignation of that post. This letter is dated 25-1-1957. In this Arunachala categorically stated thus:
'I am contesting the General election to be held during March 1957, for the place of M. L. A. in the General Seat in the Alankulam constituency. Hence I regret my inability to continue my services in your institution as Headmaster from the morning of 26-1-1957. Please therefore accept my resignation from the post of Headmaster, National Training School, Tiruchendur'.
Apparently the correspondent, National Training School intimated this fact to the Headmaster of the Training School. This is evident from the letter addressed by the Headmaster of the Gandhi basic Training School, Perianaickenpalayam to the Director of Public Instruction, Madras, on 30-1-1957 in which it was pointed out that Arunachala had resigned his office and that he had been relieved on 26-1-1957 from his post of Headmaster of the Tiruchendur Training School. Anticipating the Director's approval the Headmaster of the Basic Training School stated that they were removing from the rolls of the training school the name of Arunachala from 26-1-1957.
The Director of Public Instruction subsequently approved this action of the Headmaster of the Basic Training School. There was further correspondence for the recovery of the stipends for three months which had been paid to Arunachala but eventually Government decided that the amounts already paid shall be written off. We may in passing mention that Arunachala received stipends only for October, November and December, 1956, and the total sum received by him was Rs. 54-14-0. Arunachalam filed his paper on 29-1-1957. He never drew his stipend for January 1957. By that date he had been relieved from his office of Headmaster, Tiruchendur Training School and his name was removed from the rolls of the Basic Training School, Periyanaickenpalayam with effect from 26-1-1957.
From these facts it is abundantly clear that on the day when he filed the nomination paper, Arunachalam had no place in the Basic Training School and even if it is deemed that he had entered into a contract with the Government to undergo training and received stipend, such contract came to an end by the date he filed the nomination.
(7) Learned counsel for the appellant cited to us decisions on the question when a person could be deemed to have validly resigned from an office but they have no bearing on the facts of this case. The decision in Sudarsana Rao v. Christian Pillai, 45 Mad LJ 798 : AIR 1924 Mad 396 dealt with an Office. It cannot be said that undergoing training in a basic training school amounts to holding an office. The second ground is also untenable.
(8) The third final ground pressed upon us was that Arunachala was interested in a contract with the Government to repair a tank at Vellankulam village. It is not the case of the appellant that Arunachala by himself entered into any contract with the Government. The contract was actually between N. J. Pandyan and the Government. Arunachala is said to have entered into a partnership with this Pandyan in the working of the contract and that out of a total capital of Rs. 4000 invested for the purpose he, that is, Arunachala, contributed a sum of Rs. 2000.
In support of his case the appellant relied upon certain documents, namely, Exs. B. 28, B. 29 and B. 30. These undoubtedly show that there was an agreement between Arunachala and Pandyan in respect of this contract to repair the Vellankulam tank. Arunachala however was not examined by either side regarding these documents. Considerable doubt is cast on the genuineness of these documents by the documents produced by the second witness for the election petitioner in which Arunachala stated that these documents were bogus. Undoubtedly the letters produced by P.W. 2 which are in the handwriting of Arunachala repudiate unequivocally the statements contained in Exs. B. 28, B. 29 and B. 30.
The Election Tribunal appears to have made an attempt to secure the evidence of Arunachala but obviously he was evading the witness box. The learned Judge on a consideration of the entire evidence held that the alleged partnership between Arunachala and Pandyan was a move invented for the purpose of the election petition, to show that Arunachala was disqualified from standing for election to the Assembly and hence the rejection of his nomination paper was quite proper and valid. We share with the election Tribunal the impression left on him that the fourth respondent was running with the hare and hunting with the hound and the conduct disclosed by the documents signed by him was most reprehensible and cannot be relied upon in support of the appellant's case. This ground of objection to the nomination of Arunachala also fails.
(9) The result of our above findings is that the nomination of Arunachala was improperly rejected. The election held without his partaking in it must therefore be set aside. The order of the Election Tribunal was right and this appeal is dismissed with costs of the first respondent.
(10) Appeal dismissed.