1. The facts necessary for the disposal of this civil miscellaneous appeal are briefly these. There was a vacant seat upon the Tindivanam Taluk Board, and three candidates offered themselves for the election, the plaintiff, defendant 2, and one Narayanaswami Pillai. On the day fixed for the scrutiny of nomination papers, the President of the Taluk Board (defendant 1), it is said upon an objection made to them by defendant 2, rejected the nomination paper of the plaintiff on the ground that he was an Honorary Magistrate and so disqualified for the election under Section 55 (2)(iv), Madras Local Boards Act, 1920. Later, another of the candidates, Narayanaswami Pillai, withdrew. There was thus left only defendant 2, as a candidate for the seat, and in accordance with the terms of Rule 7 (1) of the rules for the conduct of elections, framed under the Act, he was deemed to be elected. The plaintiff, 'after endeavouring to obtain redress in some other ways, then filed a suit in the District Munsif's Court against the President and the successful candidate for a declaration that he was a duly nominated candidate for setting aside the election of defendant 2, and for certain injunctions, against defendant 1. The District Munsif framed and considered the preliminary issue whether he had jurisdiction to try this suit, and answering the question in the negative, dismissed it. On appeal to the Sub-Court this finding was reversed, and the suit remanded for disposal upon the remaining issues. It is against this order of remand made by the learned Subordinate Judge that this civil miscellaneous appeal is presented, and the question we have to consider is this, one of jurisdiction.
2. Rule 1 of the rules for the conduct of enquiries and the decision of the disputes relating to elections runs as follows:
Save-as provided in Section 57, Madras Local Boards Act 1920, no election held under the Madras Local Boards Act whether of a member or President of a District Board, a Taluk Board, or a Union Board or a Vice-President of a District Board, or Taluk Board, shall be called in question except by an election petition presented in accordance with these rules, to the District or Subordinate Judge having jurisdiction, by any candidate or elector against the candidate (hereinafter called the returned candidate) who has been declared by the President of a Local Board to have been duly elected.
3. Now there has been some discussion before us as to the exact meaning of this rule. The appellant contends that it provides for an election petition only against a candidate who has been declared by the President to be duly elected, and that in all other cases the civil Court has jurisdiction. The respondent urges that while it may be true that an election petition is restricted in the manner stated, yet the rule bars the civil Court in the case of all disputes relating to elections. It appears to me that the rule quite clearly bears the latter meaning. What it says is that no election shall be called in question except by an election petition, and that petition must be presented against the candidate declared by the President to have been elected. The rule has given rise to difficulty because Rule 7 (1) of the electoral rules, which applies to a case such as the present, where the member of the candidate equals the number of vacancies, provided (before its recent amendment) that ' all such candidates shall be deemed to be duly elected '. It was held by Jackson J. in Srinivasachariar v. Venkatarama Aiyar A.I.R. 1925 Mad. 376, that a candidate who had been ' deemed to be duly elected ' had not been ' declared by the president to be duly elected, ' with the result that, under the terms of Rule 1 of Disputes rules an election petition would not lie in such a case. Had not the matter been set right by amendment of the rules, therefore, there would have been a class of disputes not amenable to an election enquiry and, if the view I take of the meaning of Rule 1 is correct not cognizable by the civil Court. As they now stand, the rules provide for an election inquiry in every case of a dispute relating to an election.
4. Granting, however, that the rule precludes the civil Court from entertaining any election dispute, the question remains whether a proceeding such as took place in the present case, where only a single candidate was nominated to the seat and no polling took place, it was an 'election.' The term is not defined in the Act or in the rules and doubtless in its ordinary or etymological meaning it implies some act of choosing on the part of the electorate, though indeed we are accustomed to speak of an ' uncontested election' where the single candidate is unopposed. The significance of ' election ' as a selection of one out of two or more was adopted by Phillips J., and my learned brother in Krishnaswami Chettiar v. Ghulam Muhammad A.I.R. 1926 Mad 951, but with great respect I am led, by a consideration of the manner in which the word is used in the Act and rules, to attach to it a somewhat wider and more artificial meaning. Section 9 of the Act provides that the members of a Taluk Board shall be partly elected and partly appointed and a candidate who secures his seat, as in the present instance, under the terms of Rs. 7 (1) of the electoral rules, is deemed to be an 'elected member'; if there are to be but the two classes of members, elected and appointed, no alternative would appear possible. It follows, I think, that the proceeding in which he becomes an elected member ' must be deemed to be an election. ' Several other sections of the Act support this view. Under Section 19, ' election 'of a member has to be notified in the prescribed manner, and this applies whether his election is contested or not. Section 199 (2) (b) empowers the Local Government to make rules:
with reference to the election of Presidents and Vice-Presidents and all matters relating to elections or appointments of members of Local Boards not expressly provided for.
5. The rules so made provide, and indeed must provide, inter alia for a case such as the present, where a sole candidate is nominated to a seat. Bather than to hold that, in making such a rule as No. 7 (1) the Local Government acted in excess of this rule-making power, it seems to me permissible to adopt the wider meaning of the term ' election ' which the language of the Act and rules would seem to require. To hold otherwise would lead to the conclusion that the Act furnishes no means of providing, by rules, for the case of an uncontested election. I think therefore that the term 'election' may be taken to embrace the whole procedure whereby an 'elected member ' is returned, whether] or not it be found necessary to take a' poll. This is the view taken by Jackson J. in the case above cited, and by Wallace J. in Sarvothama Rao v. Chairman, Municipal Council, Saidapet A.I.R. 1923 Mad. 475 and I respectfully concur in it. My conclusion accordingly is that under Rule 1 of the rules for the conduct of enquiries' relating to elections the jurisdiction of the civil Court to entertain this suit was barred, and I would allow the civil miscellaneous appeal, set aside the order of the Subordinate Judge and restore the decree of the District Munsif with costs to the appellants throughout.
Madhavan Nair, J.
6. I agree. In Krishnaswami Chettiar v. Gulam Muhammad A.I.R. 1926 Mad 951, I think, speaking for myself, that Phillips J. and I interpreted the term ' election' in its etymological sense. The term as used in the Act seems to cover the whole procedure whereby an ' elected member ' is returned whether or not it be found necessary to take a poll. Agreeing with Jackson J., in Srinivasachariar v. Venkatarama Ayyar A.I.R. 1925 Mad. 376, it was not strictly necessary for us to interpret the term election ' in the way in which we did for disposing of the case before us. After hearing fuller arguments on the question, I am inclined to agree with my learned brother's view regarding the meaning of the term election ' as used in the Act. I agree with the order proposed by my learned brother.
7. The C. M. P. 729 of 1927 is dismissed with costs.