1. The petitioner who is the President of the Union Board of Tiruvallur, after examining under Rule 4 of the Revised Rules for the conduct of elections of Members of Taluk and Union Boards made by the Government under the Madras Local Boards Act, 1920, the nomination papers for an election to a seat on the Board rejected the nomination) one Kanniappa Chettiar on the ground that it was objected that he was a leper which is a disqualification under Section 55 of the Act, but postponed the election for 45 days to give Kanniappa Chettiar an opportunity of producing a certificate of witness from the District Surgeon. He put up a notice to that effect on the notice board of the Union Office and sent copies of the notice to the Presidents of the District and Taluk Boards for information. On this Kanniappa Chettiar complained to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Tiruvallur that the President by so doing had committed an offence of defamation punishable under Section 500, I.P.C. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate refused to take cognizance of the complaint on the ground that the President was a public servant acting in the discharge of his official duty and no sanction for the complaint had been obtained from the Local Government as required by Section 197, Criminal P.C. That was clearly a mistake, as the President of a Union Board is not a public servant
who is not removable save by or with the sanction of a Local Government or some higher authority,
but is removable under Section 44 of the Act by the President of the District Board. Kanniappa Chettiar then presented another complaint to the same effect to the District Magistrate, who first forwarded it to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Tiruvallur for disposal but afterwards transferred it to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Saidapet, before whom it is now pending. The President now prays that the proceedings may be quashed; and it is argued for him that, although he is not a public servant within the meaning of Section 197, Criminal P.C. he was acting as a Judge within the meaning of that section and, therefore, cognizance of the complaint cannot be taken without the sanction of the Local Government.
2. It is a Judge within the meaning of Section 19, I.P.C., who is protected by Section 197, Criminal P.C. Under Section 19, I.P.C., ''Judge' denotes not only every person who is officially designated as a Judge but also every person who is empowered by law to give, in any legal proceedings, civil or criminal, a definitive judgment, or a judgment which, if not appealed against, would be definitive, or a judgment which, if confirmed by some other authority, would be definitive. A President of a Union Board accepting or rejecting a nomination paper after scrutiny undoubtedly gives a definitive judgment and is empowered by law to do so as the Rules for the conduct of elections have effect as if part of the Act But does he give his judgment in a legal proceeding? It is contended for Kanniappa Chettiar that 'legal proceeding' in Section 19, I.P.C. is the same as a judicial proceeding as defined in the Code of Criminal Procedure. If so, I doubt whether that would affect the result. But as 'judicial proceeding' is an expression used in other parts of the Indian Penal Code we are not at liberty to say,, unless absolutely driven to it, that 'legal proceeding' is exactly equivalent to 'judicial proceeding' and that the legislature carelessly used two different expressions to convey exactly the same idea, nor is the definition of 'judicial proceeding' in the Code of Criminal Procedure necessarily applicable to that expression when used in the Penal Code. If we confine ourselves to Section 19, I.P.C., 'legal proceeding' there is obviously a proceeding in which a judgment may or must be given, a judgment being not an arbitrary decision but a decision arrived at judicially. In my opinion 'legal proceeding' in Section 19, I.P.C. means a proceeding regulated or prescribed by law in which a judicial decision may or must be given. And in my opinion it is clear that a President when accepting or rejecting a nomination under Rule 4 is giving a definitive judicial decision in such a proceeding: of Sarvothama Rao v. Chairman, Municipal Council, Saidapet A.I.R. 1923 Mad. 475.
3. But it is suggested for the complainant that the President, when he published his decision on the notice board of the Union Office and when he sent copies of it to the Presidents of the District and Taluk Boards, went out of his way and did more than he was required by the rules to do. Nevertheless, it is clear that he purported to act in the discharge of his official duty in so doing, and he is therefore protected from prosecution without the sanction of the Government. I agree that the Magistrate cannot take cognizance of the complaint without the sanction of the Government, and I therefore quash the proceedings.