(1.)The petitioner by this writ petition seeks to quash the order dated April 16, 1983 (Annex. 1) passed by the learned Munsif and Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Bilara, whereby the objection of the petitioner as to the invalidity of the presentation of the election petition was overruled.
(2.). I may state the few relevant facts. In connection with the re-constitution of the Gram Panchayat, Borunda of the Panchayat Samiti, Bilara, the elections were held on December 14, 1981. The petitioner Navratan Singh and the respondent No. 1 Chandidan contested the election for the office of Sarpanch. The petitioner was declared elected. The respondent No. 1 questioned the election of the petitioner by presenting the election petition on January 13, 1982. The election petition was presented to the Reader of the Court of the Munsif Magistrate, Bilara. Shri Baldeopuri Goswami, Munsif and Judicial Magistrate, Bilara on account of his transfer had handed over the charge on January 11, 1982 and an order was passed by the District Judge and authorising Shri Madhosingh, Munsif Magistrate, Pipar city to look after the work and dispose of urgent matters of the court of Munsif Magistrate, Bilara in addition to his duties. On January 13, 1982, the respondent No. 1 submitted an application in the prescribed form for depositing the security amount as envisaged by R.79 of the Rajasthan Panchayat and Nyaya Up-Samiti Election Rules, 1960 (for short 'the Rules') to the Munsif, Pipar city, who directed that the amount of Rs. 50/- may be deposited. Accordingly, the respondent No. 1 deposited this amount. However, the respondent No. 1 presented the election petition to Shri Vasudeo Dewal, Criminal Clerk, who was working as a Reader. The respondent No. 1 inter alia challenged the election on the ground that the election petition was not validly presented as it can only be presented to the Munsif and not to the Reader. The presentation was, therefore, invalid. It was only on February 18, 1982, Shri Mohammed Ayyub Khan took over the charge of Munsif and Judicial Magistrate, Bilara. The objection relating to the invalid presentation of the election petition was heard by the learned Munsif and Judicial Magistrate, Bilara and the same was overruled by the learned Munsif by his impugned order.
(3.)The question that arises for consideration is as to whether the presentation of the election petition to the official of the court of Munsif and Judicial Magistrate, Bilara, who was acting as Reader, is a valid presentation. The relevant portion of R.78 of the Rules reads as under : - "78. Manner of challenging an election or co-option under Rules, - The election or co- option of any person as the Panch of a Panchayat or the election of any person as the Sarpanch or Up-sarpanch of a Panchayat or as the member or Chairman of a Nyaya panchayat may be called in question by presenting a petition to the Munsif, or, where there is no Munsif to the Civil Judge, within whose jurisdiction the place of Head-quarters of the Panchayat or the Nyaya Panchayat, as the case may be is situated, within thirty days from the date on which the result of such election or co-option is declared, on any one or more of the following grounds - (a) to (f).... .... .... .... . It would appear from the above provision that the petition has to be presented to the Munsif. On behalf of the petitioner Mr. M. M. Singhvi, his learned counsel urged that in view of the above provision, the petition has to be presented to the Munsif and not to any other person. No one else can entertain and if the election petition is presented to some official of the Court of Munsif, it would be non-observance of the statutory rule, which is mandatory in character. Non-observance of the statutory rule, according to Mr. Singhvi would be fatal to the election petition. The words "to the Munsif" can only mean that the petition has to be presented to the Munsif in person and these words cannot be interpreted to mean that the petition can be presented to the court of Munsif. It is only where there is no Munsif, the election petition can be presented to the Civil Judge. The omission of the words "the court" is significant, also the framers of the rules could have provided that the election petition can be presented to the court of Munsif. If the expression "the Court of Munsif" would have been used by the framers, the Reader of the court could have entertained the election petition but in the absence of the words "the court of Munsif" the election petition can only be presented to the Munsif or the Civil Judge in person as the case may be. Mr. Singhvi, emphasised that the election law is a special law and being a special law, the provisions have to be interpreted literally and strictly in their natural and plain sense and the provisions should not be given equitable or liberal construction and in case, liberal construction is put the democratic rights of the people would be adversely affected. According to Mr. Singhvi, the provisions relating to resolving of the election disputes lay down a complete Code and so, the provisions have to be interpreted treating the provisions as special law relating to the matters of election disputes. Mr. Singhvi tried to support his contention by reference to some case law. It may, however, be stated that so far as R.78 of the Rules is concerned, there is no direct authority on the point.