K. Veeraswami, C.J.
1. These appeals will have to be allowed on a short ground that by the very language of Section 25 (2) of Madras Act (XXXV of 1958) it will not be applicable to a member of a Panchayat Union Council by reason of Section 12 as introduced by Act (XVIII of 1964). To deal with these appeals it will suffice to notice briefly the facts in Writ Appeal No. 116 of 1969. The appellant in that case was elected as a member as well as the President of Mela Ulur Panchayat in January, 1965. On 28th April, 1965 the first meeting of the Panchayat Union Council took place at which the appellant was duly nominated for Chairmanship and elected as Chairman by a majority of votes. The first respondent challenged the election of the appellant as President of the Union Council on the ground that he had a subsisting interest of works with it because he happened to be member of a co-operative society which had entered into a contract with the Council. The election petition was dismissed, but Kailasam, J., in Nagalingam v. Sivagnanam : (1969)2MLJ246 , quashed the election. In the other appeal, the facts are substantially similar except that the election petition succeeded and the learned Judge declined to interfere with the Tribunal's order. The point, however, for determination is common to both the appeals.
2. Though the argument covered a wider ground, it seems to us that the appeals can be disposed of on the narrow ground which we, at the outset, indicated. A member for purposes of Madras Act (XXXV of 1958), has been defined to mean not only a member of a Panchayat but also, as the case may be, of a Panchayat Union Council and includes a co-opted member. Section 12, as it originally stood, which prescribed the strength of a Panchayat Union Council, provided that every Panchayat and every township committee constituted under the Act in a Panchayat Union should elect to the Panchayat Union Council, in the prescribed manner, one person from among its members. Section 25 and Section 26 prescribe disqualifications of candidates and disqualifications of members respectively. Sub-section (2) of Section 25 sets out various grounds of disqualification of candidates, one of which is as in Clause (c), that is to say, that a person shall be disqualified ' for election ' as a member if, ' at the date of nomination or election,' he is interested in a subsisting contract made with, or any work being done for, any Panchayat or any Panchayat Union Council except as a shareholder (other than a director) in a company. Correspondingly, Clause (d) of Section 26 provides that a member shall cease to hold office as such if he acquires any interest in any subsisting contract made with, or work being done for, 'the Panchayat or Panchayat Union Council except : as a shareholder (other than a director) in a company or except as permitted by the Rules made under the Act. It is obvious that the disqualifications mentioned, in Section 26 are suspervening ones while the disqualifications under Section 25 refer to those existing at the time of the nomination of a candidate or his election. Rule 1 of the Rules for decision of election disputes relating to Panchayat Union Councils, in effect says that the election of a member, Chairman or Vice-Chairman of a Panchayat Union Council may be called in question by means only of an election petition and the rules provided for the procedure to deal with such petitions. The grounds for questioning the election or disqualifications are those mentioned in Section 25 and Section 26 of the Act, so far as they are relevant to present purposes. If the matter stood there, there would have been no difficulty in the first respondent, who was the election petitioner, invoking Section 25 (2) (c) to invalidate the membership of the appellant in the Union Council and also his election as Chairman. But Section 12, as amended in 1964, enjoined that a Panchayat Union Council constituted for any Panchayat Union should consist of the Presidents of all Panchayats in the Panchayat Union. That means the President of a Panchayat, by virtue of his office, automatically becomes a member of the Union Council. To such a process of becoming a member of the Panchayat Union Council, it would be inappropriate to apply Sub-section (2) of Section 25, for it speaks of disqualification for election as a member if, at the date of nomination or election, the candidate suffers from any of the defects. A member of a Panchayat Union Council is neither nominated nor elected to that position, but becomes, as we said, automatically so by reason of his office as President of a Panchayat. That being the case, the ground of interestedness in a subsisting contract within the meaning of Section 25 (2) (c) will not be available to the first respondent to invalidate the appellant's membership in the Union Council.
3. As for his election as Chairman of the Union Council, the disqualifications in Section 25 (2) will be inapplicable because by the language of that provision, it would apply only to a member. A member for purposes of the Act, has not been defined to include the Chairman of the Council. This is because election as President of the Panchayat or as Chairman of the Union Council will depend upon a valid election as a member to either of the bodies. The validity of the membership can only be challenged, as has been provided in the relevant rules relating to the disputes, on grounds mentioned in Section 25 (2). If no election petition had been filed, and, therefore, the election of the member had not been challenged, the same grounds on which the election of the membership could be questioned would not be available to question the election of the President of the Panchayat or of the Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Union Council.
4. On that short ground, therefore, that the first respondent could not invoke Section 25 (2) (c) to invalidate the membership of the appellant in the Panchayat Union Council, he could not also ask for, on that ground, invalidating his election as Chairman of the Union Council. We may, in passing, notice that although in Writ Appeal No. 72 of 1967 the Tribunal, in allowing the election petition, relied on also Section 26 (d), this should have been by mistake as it is not the case before us that this was a case of supervening disqualification.
5. The appeals are, therefore, allowed. The result will be that the election of the appellants as Chairman of the relative Union Councils would stand. There will be no order as to costs.