1. This is an application under Section 107, Government of India Act, against the order of the District Magistrate of 24-Pergannas declining to interfere under Rule 1-A of the Rules under the Local Self-Government Act, with the order of Mr. B. Sinha, Sadar Sub-divisional Magistrate of Alipur, rejecting the application of the petitioner Chandra Kishore Mandal for nomination as a candidate for election to membership of the Sadar Local Board, on the ground that Rule 1-A did not apply. Our interference is sought on the ground that the learned Magistrate erroneously refused to exercise jurisdiction vested in him by law in declining to entertain the petitioner's application. Rule 1-A is as follows:
All disputes arising under these rules other than objections under Rr. 15 and 42 shall be decided by the Magistrate of the district and his decision shall be final.
2. The application is opposed on the ground that this Court has no jurisdiction to interfere with the order inasmuch as the learned District Magistrate, acting under Rule 1-A, did not constitute a Court over which this Court has superintendence within the meaning of Section 107, Government of India Act, 1915. There can be no doubt that this Court ordinarily has superintendence over the judicial work of all Judicial Officers in so far as they are subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the Court, and there seems to be equally no doubt that the Magistrate of the District in deciding a dispute under Rule 1-A of the Rules under the Local Self-Government Act, is acting judicially. It was held in Mahendra Rahman Mia v. Kanti Chandra Bose : AIR1935Cal10 that in deciding disputes under Section 26-B of the Rules as to the qualification of electors for membership of a Local Board, the District Magistrate is acting judicially. Similarly in Manindra Chandra Nandi v. Provas Chandra Mitter : AIR1924Cal761 it was held that the function of a Returning Officer in deciding a question as to the eligibility of a candidate is in the nature of a judicial function and his decision is in the nature of a judicial decision. It seems clear moreover that the Magistrate of the district acting under Rule 1-A is not merely a persona designata, for the definition of Magistrate of a district contained in the Local Self-Government Act includes any Magistrate subordinate to the Magistrate of the district to whom he may delegate all or any of his powers under the Act. Thus it is clear that he is not. a persona designata, for as. such he would have no Magistrates subordinate to him. We find, therefore, that he is appointed to decide disputes under Rule 1-A of the Act in the capacity as Magistrate of the district. The same question was decided in Nara Narayan Mondal v. Aghore Chandra Ganguli (1935) 39 C W N 971, with reference to the District Judge acting under Sections 36-44, Bengal Municipal Act, and though there, were different considerations to be taken into account in that case, the same reasoning applies as to the superintendence of this Court in reference to the decision of the Magistrate of the district under Rule 1-A. of the Rules under the Local. Self Government Act.
3. I hold, therefore, that this Court has jurisdiction to interfere with the orders of the learned Magistrate in this case, if he has clearly failed to exercise a jurisdiction that was vested in him. He appears to have considered the matter judicially and his conclusion was that he had no power to interfere as Rule 1-A did not, in his opinion, apply in view of the fact that under Rule 30 the decision of the officer appointed by him to decide the matter is final. We cannot say that his view that Rule 1-A did not apply was wrong, though it is true that if Rule 1-A does not apply in the case of final decisions under the Rules, the mention of Rule 15 in Rule 1-A is superfluous. On the other hand if the decision under a Rule is to be final there is no room for any dispute and it might be said that no dispute can arise. In any case we do not. think that the circumstances of this case are such that we should send back the case to the learned Magistrate for hearing under Rule 1-A and this is the only manner in which we could interfere with the proceedings. This Rule is accordingly discharged with costs; hearing fee two gold mohurs.
4. This Rule has been issued in connexion with the election of members of the Sadar Local Board of the 24-Perganas. The petitioner was a candidate for election, but his nomination papers were rejected by the scrutinizing officer under Rule 30 of the Election Rules on the ground that he had failed to show title to his place of residence, while his subsequent application to the District Magistrate under Rule 1-A was rejected on the ground that the scrutinizing officer's decision was final and that Rule 1-A had no application. The petitioner then applied for and obtained the present Rule, which is directed against the order of the District Magistrate refusing to entertain his application under Rule 1-A.
5. Two questions fall for determination in connexion with this Rule, viz: (1) Whether this Court has jurisdiction under Section 107, Government of India Act, to revise an order made by a District Magistrate under Rule 1-A, and (2) whether the District Magistrate was right in holding (as, in effect, he did hold), that Rule 1-A did not empower him to interfere with the decision of the scrutinizing officer. The answer to both these questions must, in my opinion, be in the affirmative.
6. Questions relating to civil rights (such as the right to vote or to stand for election), are ordinarily to be determined by the civil Courts, vide Section 9, Civil P.C. By Section 138(a), Bengal Local Self-Government Act, however, the Local Government has been empowered to make rules for the purpose inter aha of determining the authority who shall decide disputes relating to elections held under the provisions of that Act, that is, to set up special tribunals for the decision of such disputes, and under Section 148 of the Act the jurisdiction of the civil Courts has been ousted wherever such special tribunals have been established. The election rules framed by the Local Government under Section 138(a) are mainly concerned with administration details, but certain of these rules have, in my opinion, the effect of setting up special tribunals for the decision of disputes, such as Rule 15, which relates to objections regarding the qualifications of candidates and voters in Union Committee Elections, Rule 26-B, which deals with disputes arising out of the preparation of the register of persons entitled to vote at Local Board Elections and Rule 30(the rule with which we are mainly concerned in the present case), which provides for the scrutiny of the nomination papers of candidates for election to Local Boards, and for the rejection of unqualified candidates. In addition to these and other special rules relating to particular classes of disputes, there is Rule 1-A, and this appears to me to be general rule providing for the decision by the District Magistrate of disputes arising under the rules in respect of which no special provision has been made elsewhere. In this view of the matter, and especially in view of the fact that Rule 30 provides that the decision of the scrutinizing officer shall be final, it must be held that the District Magistrate was right in holding that Rule 1-A did not apply.
7. As regards the jurisdiction of this Court in respect of orders made by a District Magistrate under Rule 1-A, I have little to add to what has been said by my learned brother on this point. In view of the definition of the term 'Magistrate of the District' (which is the same thing as 'District Magistrate') in Section 4 of the Act, and of the fact that the decisions of the special tribunals set up by the Election Rules are in the nature of judicial decisions, there can be no doubt that the term 'Magistrate of the District' as used in R.I.A, means the 'Court of the District Magistrate.' That Court is subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court, and its decision may therefore, in proper cases, be revised by the High Court under the provisions of Section 107, Government of India Act. It may well be that the decision of the scrutinizing officer in the present case was a wrong decision, but the present Rule is directed not against that decision, but against the order of the District Magistrate. The latter order was, in my opinion, a correct order, and the Rule must accordingly be discharged with, costs.