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V.E. Rajabahadur Mudaliar Vs. A.M. Viswanatha Reddiar and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1930Mad97; 120Ind.Cas.851
AppellantV.E. Rajabahadur Mudaliar
RespondentA.M. Viswanatha Reddiar and anr.
Cases Referred and Viswanatha Pillai v. Periasami Pillai
Excerpt:
madras local boards act (v of 1920), section 45 - union board, dissolution of--special officer invested with powers and duties of union board and president--bight of officer to conduct election of president--power to postpone meeting--rules for conduct of election of president, rules 4(2), 11(c)--drawing lots in manner different from that prescribed in rule 4(2), effect of--election, whether valid--use of blue pencils in marking votes--secrecy of ballot, whether violated. - t.n. district police act, 1859 [act no. 24/1859]. section 10 & tamil nadu special police subordinate service rules, rule 14(b), clause (iv) explanation (1); [a.p. shah,c.j., f.m. ibrajhim kalifulla & v. ramasubramanian, jj] rule 14(b),ci.(iv) explanation (1) providing that a person acquitted or discharged on benefit of..........of the taluk board some members, of the union board attended; but there was no quorum. the taluk board president instead of calling a fresh meeting purported to adjourn the meeting to a future date. it was enough for the decision of the case and all that was decided was that the president of the taluk board could not, according to the meaning of the particular rule, under which he acted dispense with the formalities of a fresh meeting and that an election of the union board president held at the so-called adjourned meeting was invalid. this has no bearing on this case. this contention also fails5. the next objection is that the secrecy of the ballot was violated because two of let respondent's supporters used by previous arrangement with 1st respondent, blue pencils to mark their.....
Judgment:

Krishnan Pandalai, J.

1. The petitioner seeks to set aside the order of the Subordinate Judge of Chittoor, dated 31st October, 1927, by which he dismissed the petitioner's objection petition to the election of 1st respondent, as the President of the Union Board of Arkonam. By G. O. No. 4290 L and. M, dated 5th October 15)26 the Local Government had, in pursuance of Section 45 (1) of the Madras Local Boards Act dissolved the said Union Board and ordered it to be reconstituted and under Clause (3) of the same section appointed Mr. Muthusami Aiyar, Sub-Magistrate of Arkonam, (2nd respondent), as Special Officer to exercise all the powers and duties of the Union Board and its President, till it was properly re-constituted. The Special Officer was instructed to make arrangements for the election of the 9 elected members, and the President, Taluk Board, Ranipet, was requested to nominate the three nominated members and when that was done the Special Officer was to arrange for the election of the President so that the re-constituted Union Board might be brought into existence as early as possible. The Special Officer had got the nine elected members elected and the three nominated members nominated. Then he called a meeting of the members to elect a President for 20th April, 1927. This date was by subsequent notice changed to 25th April, 1927, as the Special Officer could not be present on the 20th owing to Easter. At the meeting held on 25th April, under the Presidency of the Special Officer there was a tie, the petitioner and the 1st respondent each securing 5 votes at the ballot. Thereupon the Special Officer proceeded to decide the question by casting lots, which he did by using 2 sets of two slips each. One set contained the names of the candidates. Of the other set, one paper bore a cross mark to indicate the prize or President; the other slip was blank. Both sets of slips were independently shaken and put aside and one slip from each set was drawn by the hand of a little boy aged under 10. At first the petitioner's name was drawn along with the blank slip. Then the 1st respondent's name was drawn along with the prize President's slip. The first respondent was declared elected.

2. The petitioner in his petition to the lower Court objected to the 1st respondent's election on various grounds of which four were pressed in the lower Court; (1) The Special Officer has no authority to preside over the meeting of 25th April as he had become functus officio by the election and nomination of the full complement of members; (2) he had no power to adjourn the meeting from 20th to 25th April and so the meeting on the latter date was not validly held; (3) the secrecy of the ballot which resulted in a tie was violated by the use by two of 1st respondent's supporters of a blue pencil to mark their votes; (4) the drawing of lots was not done in the Usual manner or according to the rules, and the petitioner's name having been first drawn he should have been declared elected. The lower Court rejected all these grounds of objection. The petitioner's learned Advocate has pressed the same objections in this Court.

3. The contention that the Special Officer had no power to preside over the meetings, at which the election of the new President was to take place, is based on the theory, unfounded in my opinion, that the new Board had been fully re-constituted by the election of the elected members and the nomination of the nominated members, and that thereupon the duties of the Special Officer were at an end. By Section 12 (3), every Union Board shall elect one of its members to be a President, to whom by various provisions of the Act, most important functions of an administrative and executive character are assigned. In fact, a Board without a President is unthinkable and unworkable under the Act and it follows that till the President was elected, the Board was not fully constituted The twelve persons who had been elected or nominated had not taken the oath or entered on their office and could not be left to shift for themselves at that stage. None of them had any authority to summon a meeting of his future colleagues or to administer the oath, or to conduct an election for the President. It is, in fact, to prevent such an impasse that Section 45 empowers the Local Government to invest the Special Officer with all such powers of the Board and its President, as it may determine between the dissolution and the re-constitution of a Local Board and in the G. O. dated 5th;) October, 1926, the Special Officer, was expressly instructed to arrange for the election of the President. This was exactly what 2nd respondent did and he did no more. This contention fails.

4. I do not see how, if it was competent to the Special Officer to convene the meeting for the 20th April, he was incompetent, when he found it impossible to attend on that date to postpone the meeting by previous notice to a more convenient date, There was no adjournment in the proper sense, as the meeting of the 20th was not held, but only a fresh date fixed for the meeting. There was nothing which required the meeting to be held on any particular date. The petitioner's Advocate referred to Smith v. Paringa Mines (1906) 2 Ch. 193 : 75 L.J.Ch. 702 : 94 L.T. 571 : 13 Manaon 316, and Divi Dwarkacharyulu v. Kathapalli Sri Krishnan : AIR1925Mad1152 . The former case relates to the directors of a limited company, the articles of which did not give the Directors power to postpone general meetings of share-holders once called. In the latter case, which arose under the transitory provisions in Schedule X of the Local Boards Act, at a meeting of the Union Board, members called to elect their President by the President of the Taluk Board some members, of the Union Board attended; but there was no quorum. The Taluk Board President instead of calling a fresh meeting purported to adjourn the meeting to a future date. It was enough for the decision of the case and all that was decided was that the President of the Taluk Board could not, according to the meaning of the particular rule, under which he acted dispense with the formalities of a fresh meeting and that an election of the Union Board President held at the so-called adjourned meeting was invalid. This has no bearing on this case. This contention also fails

5. The next objection is that the secrecy of the ballot was violated because two of let respondent's supporters used by previous arrangement with 1st respondent, blue pencils to mark their votes, so as to assure him that they had voted for him. The law on the point is settled and will be found discussed in Rogers on Elections page 112: [(See also Woodward v. Sarsons (1875) 10 C.P. 733 : 44 L.J.C.P. 293 : 32 L.T. 867, Xavier v. Joseph 87 Ind. Cas. 216 : 21 L.W. 654 : 48 M.L.J. 268 : A.I.R. 1925 Mad. 614 and Viswanatha Pillai v. Periasami Pillai 80 Ind. Cas. 573 : 19 L.W. 636 : 46 M.L.J. 491 : 34 M.L.T. 207 : (1924) M.W.N 631 : A.I.R. 1924 Mad. 766]. The question, was really one of fact, whether the use of blue pencils by two of the voters, in this case, did really indicate the persona who used them. The petitioner examined witnesses to prove the alleged arrangement. The learned Judge disbelieved the evidence and found that the marks being in blue pencil did not help to identify the voters and that one of those who used blue pencils could not be identified even after the enquiry. This objection also fails.

6. The last objection is that the method adopted by the Special Officer for drawing lots was not proper. According to Rule 4 (2) of the Rules for Election of President and Vice-Presidents, where there is a tie the election is to be determined by drawing lots and the person whose name is first drawn is to be declared elected. According to Webster's Dictionary, in drawing lots, each competitor may place his lot (marked) in a receptacle from which a disinterested person draws one, on the owner of which the chance falls, or each competitor may draw one of a series of lots, the chance falling upon the person who draws one previously specified. In casting lots, the lots are placed by the competitors in a receptacle which is then shaken until one falls out, the chance falling on its owner. The rule refers to a method of drawing lots, in which the name first drawn is the successful one and this implies that only one set of lots is to be used. The reason why the Special Officer adopted the method of a double set of tokens, which according to Webster, is another method of drawing lots, is that he was provided with a copy of the old rules, which had been superseded and which simply required that lots should be cast in the presence of the members. To this extent, therefore, there was a variation from the strict letter of the prescribed mode of drawing lots. The question is whether this variation vitiated the election. The Special Officer who was examined in the case explained that after the ballot resulted in a tie, he explained to all present that he proposed to cast lots and how he proposed to do it. No one objected and there can be no question that the use of the double sets of slips, instead of a single set, was perfectly bona fide on the part of all present and that the petitioner and everyone else concerned acquiesced in it. The petitioner's present objections are no doubt due to the fact that he was defeated and it is not too much to presume that if he had won, he would not object to the method. The petitioner's contention that his name having been first drawn though with a blank slip, he should have been declared elected is of course entitled to no weight; as he cannot both adopt and disown the same method. If he adopts it, as he and every one else did at the time, the successful candidate is not the one that drew a blank, though it should be the first drawn, but the One that drew the crossed slip. Obviously, under the method adopted, the petitioner was not the successful candidate and he cannot claim to be successful, except by distorting the method into one, which it was not meant to be, either by him or by any one else. The only question is whether the use of a double system of slips, in which the successful candidate is not necessarily the first name drawn, was a violation of Rule 4 (2), so as to invalidate the election. In view of the fact that the violation, if any, was a per factually bona fide one on the part of the Special Officer and that the petitioner and every one else present thought it the proper course and acquiesced in it and that the use of double slips or lots is after all merely a method of drawing lots, Which is the essence of the matter, I am of opinion that the matter is covered by Rule 11 (c) of the Rules governing election enquiries, which enacts that no election should be set aside by any non-compliance with the provisions of the Act or Rules, unless the result of the election had been materially affected by the same. In this case, there is no foundation for saying that the method of double slips affected the chance of the petitioner's success any more than his rival's. The election itself having to be determined by chance (drawing of lots) and the method adopted not having affected either candidate's chance of success at the expense of the other it cannot be said that that method affected the election materially or at all. On this ground, this objection also fails. This petition is dismissed with costs.


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