1. The Petitioner is the Vice Chairman of the Kaniambadi Panchayat Union Council and the President of Adukkambarai village panchayat. A special meeting of the Union Council was convened by the Chairman on 2-9-1970 for three specific purposes, namely, election of chairman, co-option of member and election of a member to the Appointment Committee. It so happened that, after election of the Vice-Chairman was over, the other subjects were not taken up for consideration and the meeting, for reasons not known, was adjourned, but with the consent of the members present. The adjourned meeting for consideration of two other outstanding subjects as above was convened once again on 11-9-1970 at 2-30 p.m. Members of the Council were present. But it is common ground that the Chairman as well as the petitioner left the meeting abruptly thereby once again not considering the subjects in the agenda set for the meeting properly called. The petitioner's explanation is that, after adjourning the first meeting called on 2-9-1970, the petitioner felt a doubt whether the said adjournment was proper in the eye of law and wanted a clarification from the Director of Rural Welfare who is the Inspector under the Madras Panchayats Act, 1958. As no reply was received on the representations said to have been made by the petitioner, the case of the petitioner is that he along with the Chairman once again adjourned the meeting on 11-9-1970 but this time without the concurrence of the members present and without even noting in the minutes book as to the reasons why the meeting was adjourned. In fact, it is found that the petitioner and the Chairman of the council have taken away the minutes book also and to this date it is not known what happened to the same. As the Chairman and the petitioner as Vice Chairman left the council hall and therefore abandoned the meeting properly held and called, the members present continued the same, carried on with subjects in the agenda, co-opted members and elected a member to the Appointment Committee. In fact, they had to write the minutes of such a meeting held by them in independent sheets of paper and they prefaced such minutes with the statement that, as the Chairman of the Union Council and the Petitioner as the Vice-Chairman left the council hall without justifiable reasons they were continuing the meeting and dealing with the subjects in the agenda. Coming to know of this, the petitioner complained about the validity of such a meeting. The Collector of the District as the immediate supervisory authority of the Panchayats and Union Council referred the matter to the Government and the Government and the Government passed the impugned order holding that the meeting held by the members who remained in the council hall after the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman left was perfectly regular and valid and the resolutions passed therein are unimpeachable. It is as against this the present writ petition has been filed.
2. It is unfortunate that respondents 3 to 9 who are really contesting respondents are not represented before me.
3. The learned counsel for the petitioner states that the second meeting was adjourned since the clarification sought for by the petitioner regarding the propriety of the first adjourned meeting by the Union Council was still awaited and therefore he and the Chairman has to leave the council hall without proceeding with the meeting any further. In these circumstances, it is stated that the continuance of such a meeting by some of the members of the Council after the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman left the same is irregular and any resolution passed by them should be deemed to the be illegal.
4. I am unable to agree. In so far as the first meeting convened on the 2nd September 1970, for considering the three special subjects is concerned, it was adjourned with the consent of all the members present. There is no difficulty about this adjournment at all. Whatever that might be, when a second meeting was convened for the purpose by the appropriate authority on 11-9-1970, when the members in answer to the call made by such authority presented themselves for the meeting and the meeting commenced, and when therefore the meeting was held in answer to the summons issued for holding the same, then at the pleasure of the Chairman or the Vice-Chairman the meeting could not be adjourned against the will and without the consent of the members present. If there are compelling circumstances such as confusion, chaos, etc., which would necessitate an adjournment of the meeting, then probably the adjournment can be justified on its own merits and under such exceptional circumstances. But, when ordinarily a meeting is called on a particular date and it is held in consequence of such a call, then its continuance cannot be snapped by the will and pleasure of the presiding authority and even so when the members present in the meeting are against an adjournment. In the instant case. in so far as the adjournment of he meeting held on 11-9-1970 is concerned, it was not consented to by the members present. Prima facie therefore, the Chairman or Vice-Chairman as the case may be who called for the meeting cannot, unless for exceptional justifying reasons adjourn the same suo motu without even giving a reason for such an adjournment and without recording such reasons in writing in the minutes book kept for that purpose. such a voluntary act on the part of the presiding authority resulting in an irregular adjournment can be ignored by the members who congregated on the issue of summons for the meeting and continued the same without reference to those members who left the meeting in such circumstances Alagiriswami, J. in Swaminathan v. Municipal Council. Arkonam, W. P.s. 3406 and 3407 of 1969 (Mad), while considering the import and scope of such an adjournment, adopted the principles laid down in Deodutt Sharma v. Z. A. Zaid, AIR 1960 Raj 7 which are to the following effect :
'1. That once a meeting had been properly called and it meets the chairman of the meeting can only adjourn it with the consent of the majority of the members subject of course to the rules and regulations of the particular body in relation to which such a question might arise. Thus, where a meeting, according to a statute or the rules under which it has been called, must have a certain quorum, and such quorum is not present, the Chairman will have the authority to adjourn the meeting because in its absence no lawful meeting can be held.
2. In the absence of any rule to the contrary, the common law doctrine should be held to prevail that the adjournment of the meeting rests with the majority of the members present and is not a matter merely of the pleasure of the Chairman.
3. An exception to the aforesaid rule which has been almost universally accepted is that where disorder breaks out at a meeting, the chairman has an inherent right, even if it has not been granted by statute or the rules, to adjourn the meeting without consulting the majority.
4. These exceptions apart, if the chairman adjourns a meeting contrary to the wishes of the members present and thereby interrupts or leaves unfinished the business for which the meeting was summoned, the remaining members can lawfully continue the business and in the absence of their proper chairman, it is open to them to elect another chairman to act as his substitute and continue the business and any business which was duly notified in the notice for the meeting could be transacted to completion, and if it is so transacted it would be valid.
5. Where, however, the adjournment has been properly ordered by the chairmen, or it having been ordered the members have acquiesced in it, and therefore it dawns on or stirkes some of them to continue the business of the meeting, then such continuance should be held to be invalid as being a surprise or a fraud on the members who may have already left the meeting.'
I have re-extracted these principles because each one of them applies to the facts of this case. The meeting had been properly summoned; it was held in accordance with the provisions of law and the rules made thereunder. When the Chairman and/or the petitioner adjourns the meeting without valid or justifiable cause, the remaining members present can continue the meeting which was held and initiated properly, and pass resolutions resulting in the co-option of members and the appointment of a member to the Appointment Committee. These acts which are reflected in the resolutions passed by the remaining members who congregated after the Chairman or the Vice-Chairman left the Council hall, are undoubtedly regular as they flow from valid and legal resolutions passed by the legally congregated body of persons. In this view of the matter, the impugned order cannot be challenged, it is also justifiable since the same has been passed in the exercise of jurisdiction vested in the respondent. There is no other error of law or jurisdiction arising in the order challenged.
5. The writ petition is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.
6. Petition dismissed.