Monday, January 1, 2018
HC Quashes Order Protecting Panchayat Member who Encroached on Govt. Land
The Hindu | 26 December 2017
The Bombay High Court has quashed the order passed by an additional commissioner that set aside the dismissal of a member of a village panchayat for encroaching on government land.
A Division Bench of Justice M.S. Sonak was hearing a petition filed by Satish N. Deshmukh, who challenged an order passed by the additional commissioner, Pune Division, on August 21, 2013.
In the order, the additional commissioner had set aside the order by the additional collector passed on February 28, 2013 which disqualified a member of the village panchayat of Karkamb for encroaching on government land.
Advocate S.S. Aradhye appearing for Mr. Deshmukh said that the member had encroached on government property and the additional collector had rightly disqualified the member as per the provisions of the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act. However, the additional commissioner had taken the view that the encroachment had taken place in 1996 and so the member was unjustifiably disqualified.
Mr. Aradhye said that as long as the member encroached on the government land, he is liable to be disqualified under the provisions of the Act. He said, “ The view of the additional commissioner suffers from perversity and is in excess of jurisdiction.”
Advocate A.R. Metkari, who represented the member of the panchayat, said that his client’s membership had ended in October this year and therefore this petition had become “infructuous and should be disposed of”. The court held that there is merit in the contention that if the member continues in office while encroaching on government land, he “will frustrate the letter and spirit of the provisions of the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act.”
The court order said, “It is clear that no person, shall be a member of the panchayat or continue as such, who has encroached upon government land or public property. This means that as long as encroachment continues, the disqualification attaches. No member can insist upon continuing with his encroachment on government land or public property and at the same time, claim any immunity from disqualification as a member of Panchayat. That would be a case of conflict between interest and duty which is what the provision seeks to avoid.”
The court quashed and set aside the order by the additional commissioner and restored the order passed by the additional collector.