ABRAHAMS C.J.—Tunaid v. Meeran Pillai.
1936Present : Abrahams C.J.
JUNAID v. MEERAN PILLAIS.C. 703—Appeal under Section 24 of Ordinance No. 60 of 1935.
Colombo Municipal Council (Constitution) Ordinance—Objection to name inrevised list of one ward by voter in another ward—No status—OrdinanceNo. 60 of 1935, s. 23 (1) and (2).
A voter whose name appears in the revised list of those entitled tovote in one ward of the Municipality has no status to object to a personwhose name appears in the revised list for another ward.
.A.PPEAL from an order of the Municipal Commissioner, Colombo.
C. Nagalingam (with him J. E. A. Alles), for petitioner, appellant.
L. A. Rajapakse (with him S. A. Marikar), for objector, respondent.
November 24, 1936. Abrahams C.J.—
This is an appeal against the decision of the Municipal Commissioner,Colombo, who expunged the "appellant’s name from the Municipal list ofNew Bazaar West Ward on the objection of a voter whose name was on thelist for New Bazaar East Ward. The ground for the objection was thatunder section 14 (2) (g) of the Colombo Municipal Council (Constitution)Ordinance, No. 60 of 1935, the appellant did not have the necessaryproperty qualification. The appellant submitted that under the termsof section 23 (2) of the above-named Ordinance the objector had no statusto lodge his objection. This was over-ruled by the Commissioner, hencethis appeal.
Section 23, sub-section (1) and (2), are the relevant sections in theOrdinance, and they read as follows : —
“ 23(1) Every person duly qualified in any year to vote, who has
made due application under section 21 to have his name placed in thelists for the year, or transferred from one list to another, or marked
ABRAHAMS C.J.—Junaid v. Meeran Piliai.
with the double qualification maTk, or whose name was inserted in thelists for the previous year, and who finds at the time when the new orrevised lists are open to inspection under section 22 that his name isomitted from such lists, or is not so transferred, or is not marked withthe double qualification mark, and who claims to have his nameinserted or transferred or so marked (such person being hereinafterreferred to as ‘ the claimant’) may apply to the Commissioner to havehis name inserted or transferred or so marked.
Every person whose name appears in any such new or revisedlists at the time when they are open to inspection, and who objects tothe name of any other person appearing therein or being marked withthe double qualification mark (such first-mentioned person, beinghereinafter referred to as ‘ the objector ’) may apply to the Commis-sioner to have the name or the double qualification mark of such otherperson erased therefrom
It is pointed out on behalf of the appellant that under section 14 (8)of the Ordinance no person is entitled to vote in more than one ward noris any person entitled to have his name entered into the new or revisedlist of more than one ward, and he submits that it was therefore notopen to a person whose name is in one of the revised lists to object to aperson whose name is in one of the other revised lists.
The Municipal Commissioner gave his decision in these terms : —“Reading section 23 (1) I see that that sub-section speaks for thelists for the year ; obviously meaning the list for the whole Municipality.The next sub-section goes on to speak of such new or revised lists. Ican find no reason for restricting these to the list ot lists for anyparticular ward. If I did so, it would be interpolating into theOrdinance words that do not exist there”.
I am of the opinion that this decision was wrong and that the Com-missioner has been led into error by a too narrow construction of theexpression ‘ lists ’, since this word . although used in the plural mustclearly be paraphrased as ‘ one of the lists ’. The proper rendering ofthat part of sub-section (2) down to the word ‘therein’ is as follows: —“ Every person whose name appears in any one of such new or revisedlists at the time when those lists are open to inspection and who objectsto the name of any other person appearing therein ”. Now the ordinarygrammatical meaning of the word ‘ therein ’ is ‘ in that place ’, that is tosay, in the place which has been previously mentioned in the sentence inwhich the word appears. What is that place ? Clearly as indicated oneof such new or revised lists. If the respondent’s contention is to prevail,then the words above referred to would have to read as follows : —“ Every person whose name appears in any one of such new or revisedlists at the time when the lists are open to inspection and who objects tothe name of any other person appearing in that list or in any other ofthe revised lists ”. That is obviously giving to the word * there in ’ ameaning which it does not in ordinary grammar bear.
It has been urged very strenuously for the respondent that in theconstruction of sub-section (2) the intention of the legislature shouldhe considered. That is of course so, but the intention of the legislature
Matcher v. de Abrew.
by the ordinary rules of interpretation is to be gathered first and foremostby the grammatical meaning of the words which it thought fit to employ.But even if one considered, without resorting to interpretation, whatwas the probable intention of the legislature, I am of opinion that it wasmanifestly such as is borne out by the construction which, in my opinion,sub-section (2) obviously bears. The person who can object that thevoter is disqualified, if such objector is to be a voter at all, shouldobviously be a voter in the same ward because his vote may be indanger of being cancelled by that of an unqualified voter, whereas nosuch danger exists, so far as he is concerned, if that unqualified voter isin another ward. Counsel for the respondent admits, if I understoodhim aright, that that was the intention of the legislature, but he saysthat that is not the only intention because every voter in Colombo, nomatter for what ward he is qualified to vote, has an interest in a properMunicipal Government of this city and ought to be allowed to object toany voter in any ward who is disqualified, for instance if he is serving aterm of imprisonment (see disqualification (c) of section 14 (2) ). Isuppose by this is meant that if there were a majority of disreputablevoters it might have the effect of bringing into power a disreputablecandidate. I think this is too far fetched for serious consideration, andin addition I might point out that out of the seven grounds for disquali-fying a voter only two relate to his character, one relates to his sanity,one to his nationality, one to his minority, one to residence, and one toproperty. So that in the majority of cases, it may be observed, even theabove-mentioned argument can have no application.
I allow' the appeal and I direct that the appellant’s name shall beinserted as a duly qualified voter on the list of voters for the-New BazaarWest Ward, Colombo, with costs to the appellant here and at the inquirybefore the Commissioner.
JUNAID v. MEERAN PILLAI