1. The propriety of the conviction of the petitioner under Section 208, Madras, Local Boards Act depends upon the validity of the meeting of the Panchayat held on 8th June 1931 at which a majority of ten members out of fifteen passed a resolution of no-confidence. If that meeting was validly called and held, then the petitioner must be deemed to have vacated his office forthwith, Section 44(4)(a), and as he admittedly failed to hand over the documents etc. to his successor he must be held guilty of an offence under Section 208(3) of the Act. I cannot accept the argument of Mr. Ethiraj that even if he had ceased to be the President, he nevertheless purported to continue to act as the President, and therefore could not be prosecuted without the sanction of the Local Government. Its seems to me self vident that a person who has ceased to be President can thenceforth neither act, non purport to act, though he may pretend to act as President.
2. The validity of the meeting held on 8th June 1931 is dependent on the validity of the meeting held on 28th May 1931 at which leave to make a motion of no confidence was given to one of the members. The meeting held on 28th May 1931 was convened by the President of the Taluk Board, who took action (under the orders of the President of the District Board) because the petitioner had disobeyed the order of the President of the District Board to hold a meeting on 21st May 1931. It is quite clear that the President of the District Board had no power to direct the petitioner to summon a meeting on any particular day. Under Section 41(1) if the petitioner made default in performing any duty imposed on him by the Act the Local Government could by order in writing fix a period for the performance of such duty by the petitioner. And under Section 41(2) if the petitioner failed to perform the duty within the period so fixed, the Local Government could appoint some person to perform it. The petitioner being the President of a Panchayat, these powers of the Local Government could be exercised by the President of the Taluk Board ( Section 42(b) ); but there is no room for the intervention of the President of the District Board. Even the President of the Taluk Beard could only have (a) fixed some period within which the petitioner should perform the omitted duty and (b) on failure appoint some person to perform it.
3. It appears to me therefore that the meeting of 28th May 1931 was not validly summoned; consequently the leave then granted to move a resolution of no-confidence at the meeting of 8th June was not valid, and the resolution of no-confidence itself was invalid. It follows that the petitioner did not vacate his office on 8th June and the conviction under Section 208(3), Local Boards Act, is wrong.
4. I may gay that the 'default' of which the petitioner is supposed to have been guilty has not been proved. According to Mr. A Narasimha Ayyar who appears for the learned Public Prosecutor in support of the conviction, the dereliction of duty of which the petitioner was guilty was his refusal to place before the meeting of 21st January 1931 the application of one of the members for leave to move a resolution of no-confidence. It is very doubtful whether that application was made in accordance with Section 44(a) of the Act. The learned Sessions Judge says that it was not considered by the petitioner on the ground that it had been given to him after the other business of the meeting had commenced. If that were so the petitioner was well within his rights in refusing to allow the application to be considered by the meeting, and his refusal was not a breach of duty at all.
5. I say nothing about the petitioner's conduct in general; the learned Sessions Judge's strictures are certainly not unfounded. But it is clear that the conviction under Section 208(3), Local Boards Act, cannot be maintained. I set it aside and order that the fine, if collected, be refunded.