Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.
1. The appellant was the unsuccessful candidate at a bye-election for the Governor's Legislative Council held on the 10th March, 1930. He secured 1618 votes against 11,299 valid votes cast for his opponent. The total number of votes was 13,373, but 456 votes were found to be invalid. Under Rule 12 (1) of the Madras Electoral Rules, framed under Sections 72-A and 129-A of the Government of India Act (the Act of 1915) a candidate is required to deposit with the Returning Officer the sum of Rs. 250 in cash or in Government promissory notes. Under Sub-rule (3), if a candidate is not elected and the number of votes polled by him does not exceed in the case of a constituency returning one or two members one-eighth of the total number of votes polled, or in the case of a constituency returning more than two members, one-eighth of the number of votes polled divided by the number of members to be elected the deposit shall be forfeited to the Government. Sub-rule (4) says that for the purpose of Sub-rule (3) the number of votes polled shall be deemed to be the number of ballot papers other than spoilt ballot papers counted. Excluding the invalid votes the appellant secured one-eighth of the votes polled, but including them he had less than one-eighth of the total. The appellant applied to the Returning Officer for the return of his deposit, claiming that the invalid votes should be treated as spoilt ballot papers and therefore should not be counted. The Returning Officer passed an order declaring that the deposit was forfeited to Government. The appellant petitioned the Local Government against the Returning Officer's Order, but his petition was rejected. Rule 48 of the Electoral Rules states that if any question arises as to the interpretation of the rules, otherwise than in connection with an election inquiry held thereunder, the question shall be referred for the decision of the Governor and his decision shall be final. The decision of the Government must for the purpose of this case be taken to be the decision of the Governor under this rule.
2. As the appellant's petition was rejected, he filed the suit out of which this appeal arises in the Court of the District Munsif of Tanjore against the Secretary of State for India in Council for the recovery of the Rs. 250 deposited by him. The District Munsif decreed the suit, but his decision was reversed on appeal by the Subordinate judge of Tanjore, who held that the suit did not lie. The appellant then appealed to this Court and his appeal was heard by Wadsworth, J., who agreed with the Subordinate Judge, but gave a certificate under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent which has permitted the present appeal to be filed.
3. Wadsworth, J., was of the opinion that the suit did not lie ' because the electoral rules provide a special agency for the interpretation of the rules in doubtful or disputed cases and therefore the jurisdiction of the Civil Court was ousted. He also held against the appellant on the interpretation of the rules. If the appellant's deposit had been wrongly withheld from him, he certainly would have a right of suit and that has been conceded by the learned Government Pleader, who, however, says that in this case the deposit has not been wrongly withheld from the appellant. The only tribunal competent to decide whether the appellant is entitled to the return of the deposit is the Governor and his decision is against the appellant. We considered that the argument of the learned Government Pleader must prevail. It is based on two decisions of this Court which are binding upon us.
4. In Sarvothama Rao v. Chairman, Municipal Council, Saidapet : AIR1924Mad137 , the question arose whether a Civil Court had authority to interpret the rules framed under the Madras District Municipalities Act. Section 303 of the Act then in force provided that the Governor in Council might make rules to carry out all or any of the purposes of the Act not inconsistent therewith. In particular and without prejudice to the generality of this general power he might make rules with reference to all matters relating to elections or appointments of councillors not expressly provided for. Rule 31 of the election rules framed in pursuance of that power stated that 'if any question arises as to the interpretation of these rules otherwise than in connection with an election inquiry, the question shall be referred to the Local Government, whose decision shall be final'. That rule is on all fours with Rule 48 of the Madras Electoral rules. Schwabe, C.J., and Wallace, J., held that a decision by the Local Government under that rule would be final and the Civil Court would only have jurisdiction, if the proper tribunal had declined jurisdiction and the aggrieved party was bereft of his statutory and constitutional remedy. In Thimma Reddi v. Secretary of State (1923) 46 M.L.J. 60 : I.L.R. 47 Mad. 325, Kumaraswami Sastri and Waller, JJ., came to a similar decision under the Madras Local Boards Act. The sections in the Government of India Act conferring powers to make rules are differently worded, but we think that Section 72-A Sub-section (4) (c), read with Section 129-A, gives ample power to the Governor-General in Council with the sanction of the Secretary of State in Council to frame Rule 48 putting the final interpretation with the Governor. Section 72-A Sub-rule (4) (c) gives power to frame rules with regard to the method of election and any matters incidental or ancillary thereto. There is here power to frame rules with regard to deposits and their return or forfeiture. If there is power to make such rules, there must be power to provide for their interpretation, as this Court has recognised in the two cases referred to. The Governor having the power to decide finally whether the appellant was entitled to the return of his money and having decided the case against him, the suit does not lie. For these reasons the appeal must be dismissed with costs.