R. Chandran Vs. M. Vs. Marappan 
INSC 87 (23 April 1973)
CITATION: 1973 AIR 2362 1974 SCR (1) 46 1973
SCC (2) 166
Madras Village Panchayats Act. Ss. 20 and
30-Election of President from voters-Candidate's name included in voters
list-Age qualification if conclusive.
Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 227-Power
of revision- Scope of.
The appellant was elected to the office of
President of Village Panchayat of a village in Tamil Nadu. The respondent filed
an election petition contending that the appellant had just completed 19 years
of age and was therefore incompetent to be elected as President. The Election
Tribunal dismissed the petition but the High Court, in revision under Art. 227
of the Constitution, took the view that the appellant was not above 21 years
and set aside the election.
Allowing the appeal to this Court,
HELD : (1) The High Court erred in dealing
with the matter as if it was dealing with an appeal under s. 96, C.P.C.
[47F] (2) In regard to the election to the
either of members or of the President, there
is no constitutional. provision laying down any age limit. Under s. 30 of the
Madras Village Panchayats Act. the President of a village panchayat shall be
elected by the persons whose names appear in the electoral roll of the
panchayat from among themselves. Section 20 of the Act does not lay down a
qualification for a voter but only adopts the qualification laid down for
persons to be included in the electoral roll of the Legislative Assembly
constituency of which that village may be a portion. The provisions of Art. 326
of the Constitution are not attracted in deciding upon the validity of the
inclusion of a person's name in the electoral roll for a panchayat merely
because the Panchayats Act has adopted a part of the electoral roll for an
Assembly constituency as the electoral roll for the Panchayat.
Therefore, all the decisions of this Court
regarding the finality of the electoral roll would apply to the interpretation
of s. 20 that is, once a person's name has been included in the electoral roll
his right to vote cannot be questioned when he tries to cast his vote or to
stand for election or even after the election is over. [48E-F; 49BE;
5OG-H] Durga Shankar Mehta v. Thakur Raghuraj
Singh,  1 S.C.R. 267, S. K. Choudhury v. Baidyanath Panjiar,  1
S.C.C. 95 and B. N. Ramaswamy v. B. M. Krishnamurthy,  3 S.C.R. 479,
Mahmadhusein v. Q. Fidazali A.I.R. 1969 Guj.,
334 Ghulam Mohiuddin v. Election Tribunal, A.I.R. 1959 All. 357, Jagannath v.
Sukhdeo, A.I.R. 1967 Bom. 317 and P. Subramaniam v. S. Pachamuthu & Ors. 85
L.W. 567 approved.
Yiswanathan v. Rangaswamy, 1966 (2) M.L.J.
560: A.I.R. 1967 Mad. 244, Goverdhanareddy v. Election Tribunal A.I.R. 1970
A.P: 56 and P. Kunhiraman v, Y. R. Krishna Iyer, A.I.R. 1962 Kerala 190.
Roop Lal Mehta v. Dhan Singh, A.I.R. 1968
Punjab 1, referred to.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: - Civil Appeal
No. 1724 of 1972.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated April 17, 1972 of the Madras High Court in C.R. No. 1830 of 1971.
M. Natesan and J. Ramamurthi, for the
K. Jayaram and K. Doraswami, for the
47 The Judgment of the Court was delivered
by- ALAGIRISWAMI, J.-This appeal arises out of the election to the office of
President of the Muthugapatti village Panchayat in Salem district of Tamil Nadu
held on 31-7-1970 in which the appellant secured 1256 votes as against 1015
secured by the respondent and was declared elected.
Thereupon the respondent filed an election
petition before the Election Tribunal questioning the election. His contention
was that the appellant had just completed 19 years of age and was, therefore,
incompetent to be elected as President. The election Tribunal held that it was
not established that the appellant was below 21 years of age.
It was contended before the Election Tribunal
on behalf of the appellant that once his name was found in the electoral rolls
his election cannot be questioned on the ground that his age was below 21.
Relying upon the decision of the Madras High Court in Viswanathan v.
Rangaswamy(1) the Election Tribunal rejected this contention, but as it had
held in favour of the appellant on the question of age, it dismissed the
election petition. On an application filed before the High Court of Madras by
the respondent under Art.
227 of the Constitution to revise the order
of the Election Tribunal, a learned Single Judge took the view that the age of
the appellant was not above 21. He went further and held that his age was below
19 'though the election petitioner himself had contended that he was just above
19 and had produced an extract purporting to be from the birth register of the
village. According to the election petitioner the successful candidate's father
had only two sons and the successful candidate was the second of them and the
extract from the birth register related to him. According to the appellant his
father had four sons, of whom he was the 3rd and he was aged 21. The learned
fudge held by a process of reasoning, which is a little difficult to follow,
that the extract from the birth register produced before the Court did not
relate to the appellant but related to the appellant's elder brother and
therefore the appellant was below 19. The High Court treated the matter as
though it was dealing with a first appeal under section 96 C.P.C. and not its
powers under Art. 227 of the Constitution. It did not deal with the question of
law which would have been its legitimate province.
However, the important question for decision
in this case is whether once a person's name is found in the electoral roll of
the village panchayat it is open to the Election Tribunal or any other
authority to question the fact that he was above the age of 21. The decisions
of this Court which have held that in the case of an election to the
Legislative Assembly the question of age could be gone into were only where
Art. 173 of the Constitution was attracted and the candidate was not over 25 it
was a breach of the constitutional provision. Otherwise in respect of the
voters whose names are found on the electoral roll, this Court has consistently
taken the view that the question of their age cannot be gone into in a petition
questioning an election.
(1) 1966 (2) M. L. J. 560 : A.T.R. 1967 Mad.
48 In regard to elections to village
panchayats either of members or of the president there is no constitutional
provision laying down any age limit. Art. 326 of the Constitution, which lays
down the principle of adult suffrage, lays down that all persons over the age
of 21 shall be entitled to vote. But that is because the article specifically
says so; otherwise as pointed out by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Roop
Lal Mehta v. Dhan Singh(1) any person over the age of 18 would be an adult.
That apart, the State Legislature is fully competent to legislate in respect of
qualifications of voters and candidates for election to various local bodies in
the State and there is no constitutional limitation on them so as to make adult
suffrage a requisite for a valid provision of law. They can as well make any
person over the age 18 eligible to vote and stand for election or they might
take a retrograde step and provide, as was the situation some years ago, that only
rate payers can be voters or candidates for election. 'Therefore decisions of
various courts which held on the basis of Art.
326 of the Constitution that the age limit of
21 years is a requisite qualification for inclusion in the electoral rolls of
those local bodies and names included in the roll otherwise would be non est
are wholly unsustainable. Under this category come the decision of the Madras
High Court, already referred to, as well as of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in
Goverdhanareddy v. Elec. Tribunal(2) and Kerala High Court in P. Kunhiraman v.
V. R. Krishna Iyer(3).
This Court has, in numerous decisions
beginning from the one in Durga Shankar Mehta v. Thakur Raghuraj Singh (4 ) and
down to its latest decision in S. K. Choudhary v. Baidyanath Panjiar(5),
consistently held that when once a person's name has been included in the
electoral, roll his qualifications to be included in that roll cannot be
questioned either when he tries to cast his vote or to stand for election or
even after the election is over. It is not necessary to refer to all of them or
to quote from them. The only exception made has been in respect of the
requirement under Art. 173 of the Constitution.
Let us, therefore, consider the position of
law under the Madras village Panchayat Act. Under s. 20(1) of the Act every
person who is qualified to be included in such part of the electoral roll for
any Assembly constituency as relates to the village or town or any portion of
the said village or town shall be entitled to be included in the electoral roll
for the panchayat, and no other person shall be entitled to be, included
therein. It is not necessary for the purpose of this case to refer to the
explanation to that section.
Under sub-section (2) of that section any
person authorized in this behalf by the Government shall.' for the purposes of
that Act prepare and publish in such manner and at such time as the Government
may direct, the electoral roll for the panchayat or the alterations to such
roll, as the case may be. There is a proviso and an explanation to this sub-
section which we need (1) A.I.R. 1968 Punjab 1. (2) A.I.R. 1970 A.P. 56.
(3) A.I.R. 1962 Kerala 190. (4) 1955 (1)
(5) 1973 (1) S.C.C. 95.
49 not refer to for the purposes of this
case. Sub-section(5) of that section provides that :
" Every person whose name appears in the
electoral roll for the panchayat shall, so long as it remains in force and
subject to any revision thereof which might have taken place and subject also
to the other provisions of this Act, be entitled to vote at an election;
and no person whose name does not appear in
such roll shall vote at an election." Thus, the section itself does not
lay down the qualification for a 'Voter, it only adopts the qualification laid
down for persons to be included in the electoral roll of the Legislative
Assembly constituency of which that village may be a portion. It follows,
therefore, that all decisions of this Court holding that when once a person's
name has been included in the electrol roll, his right to vote cannot be
questioned would be applicable in interpreting section 20 of the Madras
Panchayats Act. S. 22 lays down that :
"No person shall be qualified for
election as a member of a panchayat unless his name appears in the electoral
roll of the Panchayat." Sections 23 to 26 refer to various
disqualifications for membership which do not arise in this case. Under s. 30
the president shall be elected by the persons whose names appear in the
electoral roll for the panchayat from among themselves.
In Durga Shankar Mehta v. Thakur Reghuraj
Singh (supra) Court observed "In other words, the electoral roll is
conclusive as to the qualification of the elector except where a
disqualification is expressly alleged or proved. The electoral roll in the case
of Vasant Rao did describe him as having been of proper age and on the face of
it therefore he was fully qualified to he chosen a member of the State
Legislative Assembly. As no objection was taken to his nomination before the
Returning Officer at the time of scrutiny, the latter was bound to take the
entry in the electoral roll as conclusive;
and if in these Circumstances he did not
reject the nomination of Vasant Rao, it cannot be said that this was an
improper acceptance of nomination on his part............ It would have been an
improper acceptance, if they want of qualification was apparent on the
electoral roll itself....... But the election should he held to be void on the
ground of the constitutional disqualification of the candidate and not on the
ground that hi-, nomination was improperly accepted by the Returning
Officer." This was a case where "Vasant Rao was under 25 years of age
and, therefore, not qualified under Art. 173 of the Constitution." In B.
N. Ramaswamy v. B. M. Krishnamurthy(1) this Court had to consider the case of
an election to a Panchayat in the State of Mysore. There (1)  (3) S.C.R.
-L944SuPCI/73 05 also the electoral roll was
prepared on the basis of the electoral roll for the Assembly constituency 'in
which the panchayat was included. Section 10 of the relevant Act provided that
"every person whose name is in the list of voters of any panchayat
constituency shall, unless disqualify under this Act or under any other-law for
the time being in force, be, qualified to be elected as a member of the
panchayat" which is more or less similar to section 22 of the Madras Act.
The name of the appellant in that case was admittedly, included in the.
electoral roll of the Mysore Legislative Assembly but it was, contended that
the Electoral Registration Officer did not follow the procedure prescribed for
such inclusion under the Representation of the People Act, 1950. This Court
held that though this was not done, the inclusion of his name in the electoral
roll was not a nullity and that the non-compliance with the procedure
prescribed did not affect the jurisdiction of the electoral registration
officer and it could not make the officer's act non est. This Court further
proceeded to point out "The Act proceeds on the basis that the voters' list
is final for the purpose of election...... In view of S. 10 of the Act it
cannot be said that there is any improper acceptance of the nomination of the
appellant, for, his name being in the list of voters, he is qualified to be
elected as a member of the Panchayat. There is, therefore, no provision in the
Act which enables the High Court to set aside the election on the ground that
though the name of a candidate is, in the list, it had been included therein
illegally." The laws of various States regarding the preparation of
electoral rolls for various local bodies in the States proceed on the basis of
the electoral rolls prepared for the concerned Legislative Assembly
constituency. Therefore all the decisions of this Court regarding the finality
of the electoral roll apply directly to the electoral rolls of the various
After the decision of this Court in B. M.
Ramaswamy's case there was no room for any further difference of opinion on the
matter. It is,-therefore, all the more surprising that the Andhra Pradesh High
Court in Goverdhanareddy v. Elec.
Tribunal (supra) and the Madras High Court in
Viswanathan v. Rangaswamy (supra) took a different view even after taking note
of the decision of this Court. Both these decisions, as we have pointed out
earlier, proceed on a wholly wrong assumption. Their attempt to distinguish the
decision of this Court in B. M. Ramaswamy's case is Pointless The Provisions of
Art. 326 of the Constitution are, not attracted in deciding upon the validity
of the inclusion of a person's name in the electoral roll for a Panchayat
merely because the Panchayats Act has adopted a part of the elec- toral roll
for an Assembly constituency as the electoral roll for the Panchayat. And in
any case all the decisions of this Court on the finality of the electoral roll
and their not being liable to be questioned Would equally apply to the
electerol rolls of local bodies. For the owns we have already given the, view
consistently taken by this Court that when once a name is found in the
electoral roll its inclusion could not be questioned in any election petition
must be followed.
51 The decisions of the Madras, Andhra and
Kerala High Courts, already referred to, should be held to be erroneous and
that of the Gujarat High Court in Mahmadhusein v. O. Fidaali(1), Allahabad
Court in Ghulam Mohiuddin v. Election Tribunal(2) , Bombay High-Court in
Jagannath v. Sukhdeo(3), and Punjab and Haryana High Court in Roop Lal Mehta v.
Dhan Singh (supra) as correct. In this case, therefore, it was not open either
for the Election Tribunal or for the High Court to go into the question
regarding the appellant's age. The latest decision of Kailasam. J. in P.
Subramanuam v. S. Pachamuthu & Ors.(4) is consistent with the view we have
The appeal is, therefore, allowed, the High Courtís
judgment set aside and the order of the Election Tribunal restored.
The respondent Will pay the appellant's
V.P.S. Appeal allowed (1) A.I.R. 1969 Guj.
(2) AIR. 1959 All. 357.
(3) A.I.R. 1967 Rom. 317, (4) 85 L. W. 567.