(1.) This old writ petition, though fixed for final hearing earlier along with the Letters Patent Appeal No. 203 of 1980, unfortunately could not be taken up earlier though the said appeal was disposed of long ago. The petition has been filed by one citizen, claiming to be a voter on the voters' list to elect agriculturists, prepared tor the purpose of constitution of the Agriculture Produce Market Committee, Valsad. He was holding at the relevant time the Office of the Vice-President of the said Committee. He filed the petition at the time when the elections for the constitution of the New Committee under sec. 11 of the Gujarat Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1963, hereinafter referred to as 'the Act' for brevity's sake, were in the offing. Sec. 11(1) of the said Act provides that the market committee consists of various types of members listed in clauses (i) to (v), but in this petition we are concerned with eight agriculturists to be elected by members of the Managing Committees of co-operative societies (other than co-operative marketing societies) dispensing agricultural credit in the market area. The petitioner stated that as per the election programme, the nomination forms were to be filed on 2-1-81, the secrutiny was fixed to be on 4-1-81 and the election was to take place on 15-1-81. The petitioner's grievance was that the list of agriculturists, constituency was vitiated in so far as the milk producing society so-called, situated in the market area and the fisheries society were wrongly taken to be the societies entitled to give the names of their members of Managing Committees. The petitioner's grievance was, that in the tentative voters' list, the names of the members of the Milk Purchasing Co-operative societies and Fisheries Co-operative societies were shown and that despite his objection to the inclusion of those names by his application dated 14-11-80, Annexure-C, the said names continued in the final voters' list. According to him, these intruders names were wrongly inserted and, therefore, there was going to be no proper election of eight agriculturists from the agricultural constituency so-called. He had, therefore, filed this petition well in time before the election that is on 24-12-80 and had sought for a writ of mandamus restraining the Respondent No. 1, the Director under the Act and the Authorised Officer for the purposes of the election from holding the elections on the basis of the voters' list at Annexure-D and also prayed for quashing the said list at Annexure-D.
(2.) Much water, as observed by me at the outset, has flown beneath the bridge and as per the judgment of the Division Bench of this High Court in the Letters Patent Appeal No. 55 of 1980 decided on 12-10-82 by M. P. Thakkar C. J., as he then was, and R. C. Mankad J., a new voters' list will have to be prepared taking into account the changes which might have taken place since then. However, in order to see that such unpleasant history does not get repeated at the time of preparation of the new voters' lists, certain positions of law are required to be clarified.
(3.) The first question is whether the Fisheries societies, which ostensibly appear to be engaged in producing fish for variety of purposes, can be said to be co-operative societies dispensing agricultural credit in the market area. The term "agricultural credit" is not specifically defined for the purposes of the Act, but "agricultural produce" and an "agriculturist" are defined and from those definitions, we can certainly and inevitably draw an inference what an agricultural credit is. 'Agricultural Produce' means all produce of agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry specified in the Schedule. If any product is a product of agriculture, horticulture or animal husbandry, but if it is not specified in the Schedule, that is to be ignored for the purposes of the Act. I, with the assistance of the learned Advocates, went through that Schedule, but found that fish are not there, though eggs, poultry, cattle, sheep, goat, wool, butter, ghee, milk, etc. are there. So the fisheries societies, if they are not engaged in the produce or growth of any of the items listed in the schedule appended to the Act, cannot be included as societies dispensing agricultural credit in the market area. When the competent authority now takes on hand the preparation of the list of members of the managing committees of various societies, he shall take this patent fact into account before he decides one way or the other. I would say that name may not be decisive, but if the by-laws and actual functioning show that a particular society is engaged in producing any of those products specified in the Schedule appended to the Act, the said society can be said to be a society of agriculturists and if further it is found that that society is advancing credit in order to procure that advancement of agricultural produce or agriculture, then and then alone, but not otherwise, the members of the managing committee of such a society shall be entitled to be included in the list of such voters for the purpose of sec. ll(l)(i) of the Act.;