P. Ramakrishnan, J.
1. Pudunaduvalur and Nochiam are two villages in Perambalur Taluk of the Tiruchirapalli district forming a single group and they have a common karnam but different headmen. The headman of Pudunaduvalur died sometime in 1960, and one Duraiswami Udayar was appointed on 7th September, 1962 by the Revenue Divisional Officer as the permanent headman of that village. One of the rival applicants before the Revenue Divisional Officer for the appointment was one Kandaswami Udayar. The Revenue Divisional Officer preferred Duraiswami Udayar for the appointment overlooking the claims of Kandaswami Udayar. Kandaswami Udayar appealed to the District Revenue Officer. That officer considered that Duraiswami Udayar, the appointee of the Revenue Divisional Officer,, was closely related to the village headman of Nochiam, who had married the two sisters of Duraiswami Udayar. Board's Standing Order 155 (12) (ii) states that in areas to which the Act does not apply (Hereditary Village Officers Act), the principles laid down in Board's Standing Order 155 (12) sub-paragraph (i) may be followed in regard to the appointment of village officers in adjacent villages and the appointing authority may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, overlook the claims of persons on the ground that they are closely related to village officers in adjacent villages to such a degree that their appointments is likely to interfere with the administration. Sub-paragraph (i) of Board's Standing Order 155 (12) states that two offices-cannot be held by the same person permanently and the principle that the headman and karnam should not be related closely to each other should be followed as far as is consistent with recognition of legal claims. The District Revenue Officer construed Boards Standing Order 155 (12) (ii) as involving a prohibition against the appointment of near relatives as village officers of adjacent villages irrespective of whether the appointees happened to be headman or karnam. In other words,, whereas Board's Standing Order 155 (12) (ii) implied only a bar against the karnam and headman of the same village being inter-related, Board's Standing Order 155 (12) (it) was construed as a further bar against the appointment of near relations as village officers of adjacent villages whether the appointment was of village headman or of village karnam. The District Revenue Officer relied upon this interpretation of the rule for setting aside the appointment of the petitioner, Duraiswami Udayar. He also relied on two other circumstances. One is that Kandaswami Udayar, the fourth respondent herein, has more properties (worth Rs. 25,000 ) as against the petitioner Duraiswami Udayar, who after his application had acquired by gift from his mother a property which was stated in the gift deed to be worth only Rs. 10,000 but according to the statement of the village karnam it was really worth Rs. 19,000 and the under-valuation in the gift deed was made for purposes of payment of lesser stamp duty. There was also the fact that Kandaswami Udayar was a younger man being 35 years whereas Duraiswami the petitioner was older being 45 years. Against this order, a revision was filed by the petitioner to the Board of Revenue and the Board of Revenue confirmed the orders of the District Revenue Officer. The petitioner has filed this writ petition in this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution seeking for the issue of a writ of certiorari quashing the above said orders '.
2. The first contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that the Revenue Divisional Officer, while preferring the petitioner, has given weight to his longer experience of two years in the post of headman, whereas the fourth respondent Kandaswami had no such experience at all. The learned Counsel also contended that the bar regarding appointment of relations in Board's Standing Order 155(12) (i) and (ii) would apply only to headman and karnam of the same village of headman and headman of adjacent villages or karnam and karnam of adjacent villages, but it cannot be extended in the case of adjacent villages to both the officers of villages officers. Learned Counsel also stresses that Board's Standing Order 155(12) (it) regarding the bar against appointment of relations as village officers of adjacent villages should be construed as an extension of Board's Standing Order 155(12) (i) and intended only to embody the principle that headman and karnam should not be close relations whether they are in the same village or in adjacent villages, but that principle should not be extended to imply a bar when it comes to headman of adjacent villages or karnams of adjacent villages. I am of the opinion that there is nothing in Board's Standing Order 155 (12) (ii) which allows such a view being taken of that standing order. Board's Standing Order 155(12)(i) specifically lays down that the headman and karnam of a village should not be close relations; Board's Standing Order 155 (12) (it) is equally specific in laying down a bar against the appointment of close relations as village officers of adjacent villages. In other words, Board's Standing Order 155 (12) (ii) expresses one policy that in the case of adjacent villages it will be inadvisable in the public interest to have close relations as village officers whether in the post of village headman or in the post of karnam. Board's Standing Order 155 (12) (i) expresses another policy,, namely, that in the same village karnam and headman ought not to be closely related. It may be easy to find a justification for the view that the village headman and karnam in the same village should not be related because, for example in records relating to the collection of land revenue, or in making reports on encroachments or in making other reports after local enquiries both karnam and headman have to subscribe their signatures and if they are closely related, it may happen that one cannot function as an effective check on the other. It may not be easy to spell out in the case of Board's Standing Order 155 (12) (ii) as to why there is a bar to the appointment of relations as village officers of adjacent villages irrespective of whether they are headmen or karnams. But for a long number of years such a policy was followed by the authorities by ensuring that adjacent villages do not tend to come under the control of village officers who are related, evidently to avoid formation of groups of headmen or karnams who can assume influence over adjacent villages in the same neighbourhood. Apparently it was treated as a matter of policy that as far as possible there should not be any tendency for village officers of adjacent villages to form groups linked together by close bonds of relationship. It is not proper for me in this writ proceeding to express an opinion as to whether such a policy should be upheld or deprecated. But that policy has been recorded in the Board's Standing Orders and those orders have assumed validity for making selections to the posts of village officers by the revenue authorities who are charged with a duty in that respect. The Board's Standing Orders afford them the necessary guidance in that matter. Viewed in this way, the authorities, namely, District Revenue Officer and the Board of Revenue cannot be considered to have acted erroneously in interpreting Board's Standing Order 155 (12) (ii) in the manner they did, as containing a provision for debarring related persons from holding the posts of village headman in adjacent villages. Here, their relationship is very close, namely brothers-in-law, and the villages though they are different have this in common that they belong to the same group. There are also two other circumstances, namely, the disparity in their property qualification and the disparity in their age. Both the District Revenue Officer and the Board of Revenue have considered that these two circumstances, together with the bar of relationship, are sufficient to outweigh the experience of two years which the petitioner claims to have had in the office. This again is a question for the authorities charged with the duty of making a proper selection to the post, to consider, and their decision, which appears to have been made bond fide and from a fair view of the relevant rules cannot be interfered with in writ proceedings. The writ petition is dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100 payable to the fourth respondent.