V.E. Rajabhadur Mudaliar vs A.M. Visvanatha Reddiar And A.R. … on 22 April, 1929

Madras High Court
V.E. Rajabhadur Mudaliar vs A.M. Visvanatha Reddiar And A.R. … on 22 April, 1929
Equivalent citations: (1929) 57 MLJ 481
Author: K Pandalal


Krishnan Pandalal, 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. & M., dated 5th October, 1926, 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. Muthuswami 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 reconstituted. The Special Officer was instructed to make arrangements for the election of the nine 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 reconstituted 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 five votes at the ballot. Thereupon the Special Officer proceeded to decide the question by casting lots, which he did by using two 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 1st respondent was declared elected.

2. The petitioner in his petition to the Lower Court objected to 1st respondent’s election on various grounds of which four were pressed in the Lower Court:

(1) The Special Officer had 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 meeting 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 reconstituted 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 reconstittition 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, Ltd. (1906) 2 Ch 193. and Dwarka Charyulu v. Sri Krishnan (1906) 2 Ch 193. 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 shareholders once called. In the latter case which arose under the transitory provisions in Schudle 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 1st 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, p. 112 (see also Woodward v. Sarsons (1875) L.R. 10 C.P. 733. Xavier v. Joseph (1924) 48 M.L.J. 268 and Viswanatha Pillai v. Periasami Pillai (1924) 46 M.L.J. 491. 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 persons who used them. The petitioner examined witnesses to prove the alleged arrangement. The learned Judge disbelieved (he 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 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 every one 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 such a violation of Rule 4(2) so as to invalidate the election. In view of the fact that the violation, if any, was a perfectly 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 the 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 rivals. 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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. More Information