Decided on August 28,1957



- (1.) THE Barnala town in the District of Sangrur is a second class municipality. Elections were held for this municipality in September 1956. Two of the residents of the town who are also registered as voters in the rolls of this municipality have filed this petition under Art, 226 of the Constitution for a writ, direction or order in the nature of quo warranto challenging the right of the respondents who were elected as members of the municipality in this election to act as such. The petitioners pray that the office of the members of the municipality may be declared to be vacant and the respondents be restrained from discharging any of the functions, rights and duties of members of the municipality. This petition is based on the allegation that the election was void and invalid and was vitiated by various illegalities and irregularities. The petitioners have impleaded as respondents the State of Punjab, tho Deputy Commissioner, sangrur, and ten members who were elected in the impugned election. A reply has been filed on behalf of the Punjab State pleading that the election proceedings were legal and regular and that this Court should not interfere as the petitioners have not taken advantage of the alternative and effective remedy available to them under the election rules by means of an election petition.
(2.) THE facts leading to this petition are these. The State Government (the erstwhile Pepsu Government) issued a notification under Section 240 (1) (b) and (c) of the Punjab Municipal Act, as then in force in the Pepsu State, dividing tills municipality into 9 election wards and the boundary of each ward was described in the schedule appended thereto. It was further laid down in this notification that one member shall be elected from each ward excepting ward No. 3 from where two members were to be elected. Elections were then held in this town in 1952. In 1953 the State Government included certain specified areas from outside within the Barnala Municipality by issue of a notification under Section 5 (3) of the Municipal Act. This notification was issued on 30-7-1953. This additional and extended area is on all sides of the town and it admittedly appreciably increased the area and the number of inhabitants of this municipal town. It appears that later on the municipality was superseded and an administrator was appointed to carry on the functions of the municipality. In 1956 the Deputy commissioner, Sangrur, fixed September 1956 for holding general elections for this municipality under R, 3 of the Pepsu Municipal Election Rules, 1949, made tinder Section 240 of the Municipal Act. He further appointed the Sub-Divisional officer, Barnala, as the Deputy Commissioner under Rule 44 of these Election rules to perform the functions of the Deputy Commissioner for the purposes of the election. It appears that the Administrator of the Municipality was directed to prepare the preliminary electoral roll. The Administrator by his letter dated 11-7-1956 pointed out to the Sub-Divisional Officer that (1) as he was not the Election Officer he could not prepare the electoral roll, and (2) that as the population etc. in this municipal town had increased since the 1952 elections, it was necessary to divide the town afresh into wards, so that the electoral roll might be prepared. The additional Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, then by letter dated 13-7-1956, laid down that the wards for the elections would be as were in 1952 elections. The Sub-Divisional Officer on his part informed the Administrator that he (the Sub-Divisional Officer) had been appointed the Section Commissioner by the Deputy commissioner, Sangrur, under a circular issued by the Pepsu Government on 266-1953 authorising the Deputy Commissioner to appoint any other officer as an election Commissioner. By the same communication the Sub-Divisional Officer issued directions to the Administrator which read- "it is therefore requested that wardwise alphabetical electoral rolls may please be prepared and got printed by getting competitive rates without any further delay. This all work must be completed within a period of fortnight, so that further necessary steps into the matter may be taken. In case the electoral rolls be not prepared within the proscribed period, you will be held responsible for delay. " Thereafter the electoral roll was prepared. It appears that certain objections were raised to the electoral roll but the fate of these objections is not clear on this record. The elections were duly held and respondents Nos. 3 to 12 were elected. Four persons including the present petitioners filed an application under rule 67 before the Pepsu Government praying that the election be set aside as material irregularities had been committed in the conduct of the elections and a request was made to the Government not to give its approval in the meanwhile to the election of the successful candidates. This application was made on 10-10-1956. The present petitioners filed the present petition on 26-12-1956 and it is alleged that this petition has been filed as the Government has taken no action on the application made under Rule 67.
(3.) THE petitioners challenge the validity of these elections on the following grounds- 1. that after the addition of territory within the jurisdiction of the Barnala municipality, no election wards were constituted by the Government; 2. that the Sub-Divisional Officer could not act as an Election Officer as the Deputy Commissioner who was appointed as such by the government could not delegate his office to him; 3. that the electoral roll was prepared by the Administrator who had no authority to do so; and 4. that the electoral roll prepared was defective under various headings given in detail in the petition. ;

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