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S. Raghavanandam Vs. C.P. Chitrarasu the Chairman, Tamil Nadu Legislative Council and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElection
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1972)2MLJ147
AppellantS. Raghavanandam
RespondentC.P. Chitrarasu the Chairman, Tamil Nadu Legislative Council and ors.
Cases ReferredThankamma v. Speaker of T.C. Assembly A.I.R.
Excerpt:
- .....as already stated, the petitioner's case is that about 8-45 p.m. on 25th january, 1971, an undated letter of resignation, which reflected the contents as excerpted above, excepting the date and the endorsement made by the first respondent, was handed over by him to the third respondent who in turn passed it on to the second respondent, and presumably the letter ultimately reached the first respondent who acted upon it and issued the challenged notification. the petitioner had to leave madras on the night of 25th january, 1971, and he was surprised to read in the morning editions of 'dailythanthi' and 'navamani' of date 26th january, 1971, that the petitioner's resignation as member of the tamil nadu legislative council was accepted by the chairman of the council as required under the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. The petitioner herein, a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council^ is seeking for a writ of certiorari to quash the notification dated 27th January, 1971, issued by the Chairman, Tamil Nadu Legislative Council (the first respondent) on the main ground that he has not ceased to be a member of the Upper House, and the notification as such should be deemed to be inoperative in the eye of law. The facts on which the writ petition was based could be summarised as follows.

2. On the dissolution of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly consequent on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, the petitioner had information that some of the members of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, to which the petitioner belonged, and who were members of Parliament, desired to stand for the State Legislative Assembly and vice versa. For this purpose, the party officials were gathering such information as was necessary as to who all were so desirous of standing as members to the State Legislative Assembly, instead of seeking a ticket to the Lok Sabha. The petitioner was elected as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council in April, 1968, and his term would normally expire in April, 1974. In view of the expectancy as above of some members of Parliament to stand for being elected as members of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, the petitioner became inquisitive as to whether he could not seek a seat in the Lok Sabha himself. For this purpose, he gave an application on 8th of January? 1971, to Thiru Parankusam, a representative of the D.M.K. Party, who was authorised to receive such applications, stating that he desired to have a ticket to enable him to stand for the Lok Sabha from the Sivaganga Parliamentary Constituency. On the same date, it appears, the party's attitude was made clear in the matter of such personnel like the petitioner, who were either sitting members of the State Council or the Rajya Sabha and who were desirous of applying for a ticket to contest for the Lok Sabha or the State Assembly as the case may be, that they should submit their resignation of the offices which they held as above to enable the party to consider their fitness for being nominated to the Lok Sabha as the party's candidate. This announcement was made in the 'Murasoli', which apparently is a party organ. On the 24th of January, 1971, it is stated by the learned Counsel for the petitioner, a list of names who were allotted tickets to contest the elections for seats in the Lok Sabha was given out, and, in fact, it is not in dispute that the names were published in the local dailies as well. In. spite of it, it transpires that on the 25th of January, 1971, the petitioner, not having lost hope of securing a seat to contest for the Lok Sabha, followed up the objective of the party as publicly announced in the 'Murasoli' and is said to have written a letter, which is marked as Exhibit A, and which reads as under:

25-1-1971.S. Raghavanandam, Member,Legislative Council, Madras-2.ToThe Chairman,Tamil Nadu Legislative Council,Madras-9.Sir, I herewith submit my resignation of the membership of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council. The resignation may take effect immediately.Yours faithfully, (Sd.) in Tamil Section Raghavanandam.

According to the petitioner, the letter was not dated at or about the time when it was written, but this letter is written in the letterhead of the petitioner and is admitted to be in his own handwriting and addressed to the Chairman, Tamil Nadu Legislative Council. The purport of the letter, as is clear from its text, is that he was submitting his resignation of the membership of the Legislative Council which Was to take effect immediately. One other conspicuous feature, which is ex facie noticeable in this letter, is the endorsement made by the first respondent, which reads thus:

The resignation may be accepted and vacancy notified immediately.(Sd.) C. P. Chitrarasu,25-1-71.

Tae petitioner, however, having stated that this was an undated letter, indicates in detail the circumstances attendant upon its execution and to whom and when this letter was handed over by him. According to him, it was at the instance of the third respondent that this letter was drafted and written by the petitioner, and it was actually handed over by him to the third respondent, and the petitioner presumes that the third respondent in turn handed it over to the second respondent and the same ultimately reached the first respondent for necessary action. Contemporaneously, the case of the petitioner is that even though this letter was written by him, he never intended that it should be acted upon either by the addressee or by the agencies through which it passed, ultimately to the hands of the first respondent. According to the petitioner, this letter was intended merely as a shield to be kept up till he was allotted a ticket for contesting the Lok Sabha elections and until after the results of the elections were known and the petitioner was duly elected as a member of the Lok Sabha as well. These conditions are dented into this letter by the petitioner and these conditions precedent, which only could ultimately make the letter operative or implementable, are projected at the foremost by the petitioner to sustain his case that the first respondent, who knew about the circumstances under which the letter was written and situations attendant upon the receipt of the letter, ought not to have issued the impugned notification, after acting upon it, accepting it, and ultimately unseat him from the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council. In the view that I intend taking, it is not necessary for me to state any more details excepting at this stage to narrate completely the facts until the challenged notification was made.

3. As already stated, the petitioner's case is that about 8-45 P.M. on 25th January, 1971, an undated letter of resignation, which reflected the contents as excerpted above, excepting the date and the endorsement made by the first respondent, was handed over by him to the third respondent who in turn passed it on to the second respondent, and presumably the letter ultimately reached the first respondent who acted upon it and issued the challenged notification. The petitioner had to leave Madras on the night of 25th January, 1971, and he was surprised to read in the morning editions of 'DailyThanthi' and 'Navamani' of date 26th January, 1971, that the petitioner's resignation as member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council was accepted by the Chairman of the Council as required under the provisions of the Constitution and that a vacancy has arisen in the Council in that behalf. The petitioner immediately gave a telegram to the first respondent running as under:

Learn from dailies that you have accepted my resignation of Council membership. I never intended to submit my resignation letter to you. Surprised to see such news. Submit I have never resigned my Council membership.Raghavanandam, Member, Legislative Council.

The further case of petitioner is that he contacted the Secretary of the Legislative Council on the 27th instant, who is stated to have informed him that the resignation had been accepted and that a notification was under issue in consequence thereof. It is not in dispute that a notification to the above effect was issued on 27th January, 1971, and was received by the petitioner on 28th January, 1971. After coming to know the action taken by the first respondent about the letter of resignation as above, the petitioner was thoroughly dissatisfied about the way in which his letter was dealt with by respondents 2 and 3, to whom, according to him, the letter was handed over. Tn the meantime, he received a letter from the fifth respondent, running as under:

I am directed to inform you that action has been taken immediately on receipt of your letter of resignation of membership in the Council, dated 25th January, 1971, as desired by you, and in the normal course, and the notification, declaring your seat vacant, was issued on 27th January, 1971, before the receipt of your telegram.

Thereafter, the petitioner continued correspondence and is said to have met the second respondent and made his position and intention clear, but having had no benefit out of such personal approaches has come to this Court for the issue of a writ of certiorari, as already stated, and for the purpose above mentioned.

4. I have already noticed the endorsement made by the first respondent on the letter of resignation dated 25th January, 1971. The first respondent has filed a counter-affidavit. In the counter-affidavit, he swears that on 25th January, 1971, after office hours, the petitioner came to his residence and handed over the letter in person and as it was received by him across the table, he made the endorsement on the letter on that date, and at the instance of the petitioner, he accepted the resignation immediately and thus subserved the purpose of the letter which the petitioner wanted viz., to take immediate effect. The first respondent is emphatic that it is highly irresponsible on the part of the petitioner to attribute motives for accepting the resignation. According to the first respondent, as the letter of resignation was in the petitioner's letterhead, in. his own handwriting, signed by him and addressed to the first respondent and was also handed over to the first respondent in person, nothing more remained for him except to accept the resignation and act upon the letter and formally issued the notification, which has to be done in the eye of law.

5. I have already prefaced that it is not necessary, in this Writ petition to traverse the various allegations leading; to certain factual contentions in the matter of the delivery of such a letter to the third respondent or by the third respondent to the second respondent. The second respondent and the third respondent have, of course, filed counter-affidavits. They make it clear that no assurance was given by them or any of them to the petitioner that the letter was to remain only as a dead letter and not intended to be acted upon till the Lok Sabha elections became a fait accompli and the results were known and the petitioner succeeded therein. The third respondent in his turn denies that the petitioner ever handed over the letter in question to him, and what all has been, said against him and what all has been spoken to by the petitioner as regards the circumstances under which the letter is said to have been handed over by the petitioner to the third respondent are practically denied. The fifth respondent's counter is a formal one.

6. The learned Counsel for the petitioner, after taking me through the various factual contentions as disclosed in the affidavits and counter-affidavits filed in the case sought to sustain the case of the petitioner as follows. The first respondent was aware of the various circumstances under which the impugned letter of resignation was written by the petitioner, and as it was undated at or about the time when it was handed over by the petitioner to the third respondent (according to him) or to the first respondent (according to the latter), that in itself was a suspicious circumstance to evoke further consideration at the hands of the first respondent without accepting the same forth with. The petitioner is equally emphatic that the letter was not handed over to the first respondent, but the learned* Counsel for the petitioner very fairly put it that his client has never stated anywhere either in the affidavit or in the correspondence that the endorsement made by the first respondent in the letter cannot be said to have been made by him in the manner done and on the date it bears. As a matter of fact, when the case was opened, there was a suggestion whether it was necessary that the first respondent should be examined in person in Court. Though initially the learned Counsel for the petitioner was inclined to call the first respondent for being examined, the matter was not pressed at a later stage. Though normally evidence is not undertaken in a proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution, yet in exceptional circumstances, where justice demands and where the situation is intended to subserve public interest, the Court undertakes such an enquiry, even though it is adjudicating a subject-matter in its visitorial jurisdiction. But, as matters stand, there was no occasion for the Court to test once again the statement made by the first respondent by seeking his presence in Court and subjecting him to examination by Counsel. It became unnecessary to do so, and in my opinion too, it was not absolutely essential for purposes of deciding this case.

7. The learned Counsel for the petitioner would state that the answer, given by the fifth respondent on 29th January, 1971, in answer to the telegram issued by the petitioner on 26th January, 1971, does not expressly say that the letter of resignation was handed over by the petitioner to the first respondent and that he made an endorsement to that effect on the letter of resignation and that in consequence the notification was issued. This suggestion as to the absence of some material details in the reply sent by the Secretary of the Legislative Council has to be juxtaposed with the text of the telegram issued by the petitioner on the 26th of January, 1971. If really the petitioner's case was that the letter of resignation, which is the cynosure in these proceedings, was never handed over by the petitioner to the first respondent, and if it was handed over to persons other than the first respondent, as claimed by the petitioner, one would have expected that this at least should have been brought out in the telegram given by the petitioner as soon as he came to know of the impugned notification. This apart, the petitioner, after he came down to Madras and after he received the reply as above from the fifth respondent, did not write to the first respondent setting out categorically that there was no occasion for him to hand over the letter of resignation across the table for the 1st respondent to act so expeditiously as was done and to follow it up by the impugned notification. Even otherwise, I am satisfied that when an official reply was sent by the fifth respondent in answer to the telegram given by the petitioner, he could not have written any letter, nor was it obligatory on his part, to set out in detail the circumstances under which the letter itself was handed over to the Chairman of the Legislative Council and as to when and how it was handed over. The letter dated 29th January, 1971 is a normal reply to a thought-provoking telegram. Even this normal reply, which, according to the petitioner, did not contain conspicuous facts and did not set out relevant situations, did not in turn evoke a reply from him, which at least would have set matters in their light, as contended by the petitioner. But nothing has been done by the petitioner till he came, to this Court, on 11th February, 1971, when he categorised the various circumstances under which he wrote the letter and set down in detail the persons whom he 'approached with that letter and the surmises which he makes as to how the letter could have reached the first respondent for taking action thereon. I am unable to rest my conclusion on the ipse dixit of the petitioner, who is the interested party in this proceedings, and lightly brush aside the endorsement made by a responsible person like the first respondent, as also the reply given by the fifth respondent for and on behalf of the first respondent and ultimately the sworn affidavit made by the first respondent in this Court, emphatically denying the allegation that the letter of resignation was never handed over by the petitioner to him. If, therefore, as a fact it appears to me that the letter of resignation was handed over by the petitioner to the first respondent and the said letter projected an unconditional and an unreserved conveyance of the stand taken by the petitioner that he intended to resign from the Legislative Council with immediate effect, and if that letter was accepted and acted upon by the statutory authority, then the notification which is the product of such a decision cannot be impugned in these Writ proceedings.

8. Article 190(3) of the Constitution of India lays down in no uncanny terms that if a member of a House of the Legislature of a State (meaning either House) resigns his seat by writing under his hand addressed to the Speaker or the Chairman as the case may be, his seat shall thereupon become vacant. This Article appears under the caption of 'Disqualification of Members'. A letter of resignation given by such a member in his own hand but addressed to the Speaker or the Chairman, as the case may be, is the imposition of a voluntary disqualification on the person. The other clauses of Article 190 do set out the involuntary disqualifications which will bind a Member in the circumstances and situations referred to therein. Therefore, if a disqualification is thus brought about on his own volition by the member writing a letter of resignation under his hand and addressed to the Chairman, as in this case, then eo instanti, the seat shall become vacant. But the word 'thereupon' in this clause has come up for discussion in judicial precedents. The Word in its primary sense is the equivalent of 'immediately'. In order to subserve the well-known principles of natural justice and also to avoid any misuse of power by the person in authority, the word has to be interpreted fairly, but the interpretation that has to be placed on the word depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. In the case in Thankamma v. Speaker of T.C. Assembly A.I.R. 1952 T.C. 166, the facts were that the person who tendered the resignation was not even member of the House at the time when the letter was written. It transpires that after the date when she wrote that letter as prescribed under Article 190(3), she was returned to the House. But persons who were prejudiced by such a return intended to press the letter of resignation at such a posterior point of time and then it was pointed out by the learned Judge that the Speaker in that case was entitled as of right to enquire into the genuineness of the said letter and to make such enquiry as was necessary to find out whether it was one obtained by fraud or force. The circumstances with which we are posed in the present case are totally different. The petitioner was a sitting Member of the Council. He was anxious to secure a ticket to enable him to stand for the Lok Sabha. The party mandate prescribed that he should resign from the membership of the House if he wanted the ticket at all either for the Lok Sabha or for the Assembly. He had, therefore, to write out the letter of resignation as was prescribed. The petitioner cannot be said to be a person who does not know the procedure to resign from the House of Legislature. He writes out the letter in his hand, addresses it to the Chairman, and, as I have already held, handed it over to the first respondent. In these circumstances, the mere fact that certain allegations are made in the affidavit in support of the petition, or that certain statements appear in the correspondence that preceded the filling of this writ petition, or that the petitioner had occasion to meet the Honourable the Minister for Labour or the Honourable the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, cannot by themselves be a pointer to this Court that a further enquiry has to be undertaken to decipher whether the letter of resignation was intended to be acted upon and was genuine or otherwise. A fresh look or thought at or over the Setter of resignation, which initiates the process under Article 190(3) is necessary only when there are grave attendant circumstances which normally raise judicial animosity or compel a further probe into them. No clinching material has been placed before me to entertain any iota of doubt on the genuineness of this letter. An argument was made by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the 'ink' of the date at the right hand top of the letter in question is different from the ink used for writing the rest of the portions of the memo, letter and therefore there is an inherent suspicion about the genuineness of the same. Apart from this submission being of a very doubtful nature, I have no hesitation in finding that this letter, even it is to be conceded for argument's sake was an undated letter, was one which ought to have been handed over to the first respondent of 25th January, 1971, because the endorsement made by the first respondent is categoric and is to the effect that the resignation was accepted by him and the vacancy was to be notified immediately. The date which the endorsement bears is 25th January, 1971. This secondary evidence which appears in the letter of resignation itself creates no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the letter was handed over by the petitioner to the first respondent on the 25th January, 1971, for necessary and immediate action to 'be taken by the first respondent thereafter. Thus the word 'thereupon' in Article 190(3) indicates that the Court can in certain circumstances enquire into the allegation, if made by the writer of the letter of resignation, that the letter ought not to be accepted on its face, but should be subjected to scrutiny and further evidence. That is a feasible proposition, no doubt, which has a general application, but is totally inapplicable on the facts and. particular circumstances of this case.

9. In the view that I hold that the various allegations made by the petitioner as against the second and third respondents are not relevant for the purpose of the enquiry, and as it has been established by documentary evidence that the letter of resignation, which is the basis of action for the first respondent, was written; by the petitioner in the manner prescribed by Article 190(3) of the Constitution of India, and as the first respondent did act within his authority and issued the challenged notification rightly, no writ of certiorari can issue. There being no error of jurisdiction apparent on record and no error of law either, I am unable to interfere in my discretion to make the rule absolute.

10. In view of this, the writ petition is dismissed, but there will be no order as to costs.


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