P.S. Kailasam, J.
1. This writ petition is filed for the issue of a writ of certiorari calling for the records pertaining to O.P. No. 40 of 1965 on the file of the Election Tribunal cum the District Munsif of Ariyalur and for quashing the order passed by the second respondent on 6th December, 1965. The petitioner is a member of the Ariyalur Panchayat having been elected from Ward No. 11 on 31st January, 1965. The first respondent was also elected as a member from Ward No. 6. The first respondent filed O.P. No. 40 of 1965 on the file of the District Munsif '& Court Ariyalur, under Section 28(1) of Madras Act XXXV of 1958 alleging that the petitioner and others formed themselves into an unlawful assembly on 19th July, 1962 with the common object of obstructing the State Government Officers from attending to their work and in the course of the agitations squatted on the entrance of the Ariyalur Revenue Divisional Officer's office obstructing the officers from going into the office, an offence punishable under Section 143. Indian Penal Code and Section 7(1)(a), of the Criminal Law Amendmnet Act, 1932. For that offence the petitioner was tried and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for two months on each; count on 16th August, 1962. It was contended by the first respondent that the. offence involved moral delinquency and therefore the petitioner was disqualified from being a member of the Panchayat.
2. The Election Tribunal cum District Munsif agreed with the contentions of the first respondent and held that the petitioner was disqualified from being a member. This petition is preferred against that order.
3. It is admitted that the petitioner was charge-sheeted by the Sub-Inspector of Police Ariyalur, for an offence under Section 143, Indian Penal Code and Section 7(1) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, in that on 19th July, 1962 at about 10-45 a.m. in the office of the Revenue Divisional Officer Ariyalur, the petitioner and others formed themselves into an unlawful assembly at the entrance of the Revenue Divisional Office Ariyalur, with the common object of obstructing the State Government officials from attending to their work and that in the course of the said agitation, squatted at the entrance of the said office obstructing the officials from going into the office. The accused admitted their offence and pleaded guilty. The Special Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Tiruchirapalli, who tried the case, accepting the plea of guilty, directed several accused to be released on executing a bond, but sentenced the petitioner to two months' R. I. on each of the counts. The charge-sheet discloses that the petitioner and others agitated against the Government to compel the Government to interfere with the rising of the prices of the commodities, and for that purpose formed themselves into an unlawful assembly with the common object of obstructing the staff of the Revenue Divisional Office from doing their duty and squatted on the verandah of the office and laid themselves on the entrance shouting slogans and refused to allow them to enter into the office. As already stated, the petitioner pleaded guilty and the offence so charged has been clearly made out. But the question is whether the offence would amount to moral delinquency. Section 25 of Act XXXV of 1958 disqualifies a person who has been sentenced by a criminal Court to imprisonment for any 'offence involving moral delinquency. The section does not disqualify all person who are convicted by a criminal Court, but requires that the conviction should be for an offence involving moral delinquency. The word 'delinquent' would mean an offender or a person who is guilty. Moral delinquency would, therefore, mean an act which would be offensive to the morals. It is neither desirable nor necessary to consider for the purpose of this case under what circumstances criminal offences would amount to moral delinquency. Confining the discussion to the facts of this case, the question is whether the agitation against the rise in prices of the commodities would amount to moral delinquency. It is also not disputed that, while agitating against the rise in prices, they obstructed the staff of the Revenue Divisional Office from attending to their normal duties. That it is an offence is not disputed, and the petitioner and others have been convicted and sentenced for it. To hold that the petitioner is guilty of moral delinquency some act which is offensive to the morals as normally understood, is necessary. An agitation against the rise in prices, whether justified or not, cannot be said to involve any moral turpitude. If in the course of the agitation any law is transgressed, the petitioner is liable to punishment. That would not involve any moral delinquency. To hold otherwise would mean that the person involved in any form of agitation would be found guilty of moral delinquency.
4. Mr. Sundaralingam, learned Counsel for the first respondent, relied on a decision of this Court in Chelladorai v. Sornam (1964) I M.L.J. 55. In that case the first respondent, Who was sought to be declared as unqualified, was convicted and sentenced in a Sessions case for offence under Section 120-B read with Sections 109 and 121 Indian Penal Code and Sections 4 and 5 of the Explosive Substances Act and sentenced to five years R.I. The question was whether the first respondent in that case had served out his sentence, and stood for the election only after a period of five years from the date of release. As the petitioner did not establish that the first respondent was not released earlier than five years prior to the date of election, the matter was remanded for the purpose of enabling the petitioner to produce the records relating to the date of release of the first respondent. The Court itself observed that the order of remand would dispose of the petition, but proceeded to make certain, observations regarding offences involving moral delinquency, which were obiter in nature The case with which the Court was concerned in the above case was one of blowing up of a railway bridge and an offence under the Explosive Substances Act, a crime of very grave nature. The acts are admittedly antisocial in nature involving moral delinquency. This decision cannot have any application to the facts of the present case.
5. On the facts of this case, it cannot be held that the petitioner was convicted for an offence involving moral delinquency. The petition will have to be allowed.
6. The Writ Petition is allowed with costs and the order of the Election Tribunal as quashed. Counsel's fee Rs. 150.