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Present: Lascelles A.C.J. and Van Langenberg AJ.RATWATTE v. NUGAWELA et al16—D. C. Kandy, 20,598.
Buddhist Tenipomlities Ordinance, as. 9 and 11—Certificate of appointmentof committee members—Is certificate conclusive of the validity ofelection ?
The certificate of appointment of the committee members givenby the President under section 9 of the Buddhist TemporalitiesOrdinance of 1905 is not conclusive of the validity of their election.
Lascelles A.C.J.—I cannot construe the words of section 9 cutmeaning anything more than that the President’s declaration asevidenced by his certificate is primafade evidence that the personhas been elected in due course. There is nothing in the wordsthemselves or in the context from which any intention on the partof the Legislature can be implied that the validity of the electioncannot be questioned in any way which the law allows.
fJ'HE facts are set out in the judgment of the Chief Justice.
H. A. Jayewardene (with him J. W. de Silva), for the appellant.Bawa, A. S.-G. (with him H. J. C. Pereira), for the respondents.
Cur. adv. vult.
March IS, 1911. Lascbllbs A,C.J.—
This is an appeal from an interlocutory order of the District Judgeof Kandy. The plaintiff in the action was the Basnaika Nilameof the Kataragama Dewale in Kandy, and the defendants are theCommittee of the District of Kandy appointed under the provisionsof the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance of 1905. The plaintiff,who has been suspended from his office by the defendants, claimsin his plaint (1) that this so-called District Committee, of whichthe defendants are members, may be declared to have no legalexistence ; that the proceedings taken by the defendants as form-ing such District Committee against the plaintiff, including hissuspension from his said office, may be declared null and void ;and that the plaintiff may be declared the rightful BasnaikaNilame and trustee of the temple and of all its property.The defendants put in their answer, and the issues Nos. (5) and (6)are material. They are as follows : (5) Whether the certificate ofappointment issued to the defendants is conclusive of their rights tomembership of the District Committee ? (6) Whether the defendantswere legally constituted Committee for the District of Kandy ?
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The case then proceeded to hearing, and the learned District Mar.is, 1911Judge confined the case for the present to issues (5) and (6), and thencalled on the defendants to begin. Mr. Jayewardene called a wit- A.C.J.ness, and there was some discussion on the issues, and then the learned Ratwatte v.District Judge made the order ^appealed from, which is in the follow- Nuyawclaing terms : “ On the 5th and 6th issues 1 rule that the certificateof appointment of the committee members is not conclusive of thevalidity of their elections, and that it is competent for the plaintiffto contest their validity. ”
During the argument we' were referred to certain provisions of theCompanies Act of 1862, which present some analogy with sections9 and 11 of the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance of 1905, namely,section 18, whichdeclares that the registrar’s certificate of registra-tion shall be conclusive evidence that all the requisites of the Actin respect of registration have been complied with ; and section 51,which enacts that in any meeting held under the section a declara-tion of the Chairman that the resolution has been carried shall bedeemed conclusive evidence of the fact. The current of authorityis certainly very strong, that the word “conclusive” in thesesections means “ absolutely conclusive, ” and not “ prima facieconclusive. ” But certain special cases have arisen in which a lessabsolute meaning has been attributed to the word ; fut theseare special cases, which it is not necessary to discuss, where a less .conclusive effect has been given to these words.
But in the question under consideration the decisions underthese sections of the Companies Act are scarcely in point, as theirlanguage differs essentially from that of section 9 of the BuddhistTemporalities Ordinance. In the former case section 18 of the Actdeclares that the registrar’s certificate “ shall be conclusive evidence”of compliance with the requisitions of the Act, and section 51 enactsthat the Chairman’s declaration shall be deemed to be “ conclusiveevidence ” that the resolution has been carried. Section 9 of theBuddhist Temporalities Ordinance contains no such language. Itmerely enacts that the President shall publicly declare the name ofthe candidate for whom the greatest number of votes shall have beenreceived, “ who shall thereupon be deemed to be duly elected, andshall grant to such candidate a certificate under his hand of suchhis election. ”
I cannot construe these words as meaning anything more thanthat the President’s declaration, as. evidenced by his certificate, isprima facie evidence that the person has been elected in due course.
There is nothing in the words themselves or in the context fromwhich any intention on the part of the Legislature can be impliedthat the validity of the election cannot be questioned in any waywhich the law allows.
I am strengthened in this view by a comparison between section9 and section 11 of the Ordinance. In the latter section the intention
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Jtatwatte v.iV ngav'cla
of the Legislature is clear that the President should dispose finally ofany question arising in the course of the election, and appropriatelanguage is used to give effect to this intention. The President’sdecision is declared to be “ final and conclusive.” If it was intendedthat the President's declaration under section 9 should have thesame finality, it is difficult to discover why the same or similarlanguage should not have been employed.
For these reasons 1 am of opinion that the plaintiff is not pre-cluded by the certificate given under section 9 from questioningthe validity of the election of defendants, except on grounds withregard to which the President’s declaration is declared by section 11to be final and conclusive. For these reasons I would dismissthe appeal with costs.
Van Langenberg A.J.—
I am of the same opinion, and have nothing to add.
RATWATTE v. NUGAWELA et al