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M.R. Pundarkakshappa and anr. Vs. the Molakalmuru Taluk Development Board and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. Nos. 4595 of 1968 and 132 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1970Kant7; AIR1970Mys7; (1969)2MysLJ320
ActsMysore Village Panchayats and Local Boards Act, 1959 - Sections 96(2), 105, 130, 131 and 187; Constitution of India - Articles 14, 130, 170, 171, 173, 226 and 333
AppellantM.R. Pundarkakshappa and anr.
RespondentThe Molakalmuru Taluk Development Board and ors.
Appellant AdvocateS.G. Doddakale Gowda and ;B.V. Krishnaswamy Rao, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateE.S. Venkataramiah, High Court Spl. Govt. Pleader and ;N.V. Ramachandra Rao, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....arbitrarily discriminates between different persons similarly circumstanced'.in the affidavit filed on behalf of the respondents 1 and 2, the difference between the members of the legislative assembly and the legislative council is set out in great detail......taluk development board in the other. the third respondent cannot take part in both the taluk boards. the petitioners have filed these petitions under article 226 of the constitution of india, seeking a writ striking down the provisions of section 96 (2) of the act and also seeking other consequential reliefs.3. sri doddakalegowda appears for the petitioner in w. p. 4595/68 and sri b. v. krishnaswamy rao appears for the petitioner in w. p. 132/69. the first contention of the learned counsel sri doddakalegowda is that section 96 (2) of the act is discriminatory as it makes a distinction between a member of the legislative assembly and a member of the legislative council both of whom are legislators. this legal provision hence should be struck down. section 96 (2) of the act is.....
Judgment:

Gopivallabha Iyengar, J.

1. These two writ petitions are heard together as the questions raised in the two proceedings are identical.

2. The petitioner in each of these petitions is a member of the Taluk Development Board of Molakalmuru and Chitradurga respectively. In each of these the third respondent is a member of the Mysore Legislative Assembly; one from Molakalmuru Constituency and the other from Chitradurga Constituency. In connection with the election of President and Vice President to the Taluk Development Boards, notices have been served on the third respondent in each of these cases. The petitioner complains that under Section 96 (2) of the Mysore Village Panchayats and Local Boards Act, 1959 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), the Taluk Development Board of Challakere and Molakalmuru in one case and Chitradurga Hiriyur in another case have sent notices to the third respondent to participate in the first meeting and in the election of President and Vice President of the Taluk Development Boards. The petitioners contention is that the provisions of Section 96 (2) of the Act are discriminatory and therefore violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. It is further contended that even if the provisions of Section 96(2) of the Act are valid, the third respondent can take part in the proceedings of one of the Taluk Development Boards, i.e., either in Molakalmuru Taluk Development Board or Challakere in one case and Hiriyur or Chitradurga Taluk Development Board in the other. The third respondent cannot take part in both the Taluk Boards. The petitioners have filed these petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, seeking a writ striking down the provisions of Section 96 (2) of the Act and also seeking other consequential reliefs.

3. Sri Doddakalegowda appears for the petitioner in W. P. 4595/68 and Sri B. V. Krishnaswamy Rao appears for the petitioner in W. P. 132/69. The first contention of the learned counsel Sri Doddakalegowda is that Section 96 (2) of the Act is discriminatory as it makes a distinction between a member of the Legislative Assembly and a Member of the Legislative Council both of whom are Legislators. This legal provision hence should be struck down. Section 96 (2) of the Act is in the following terms:

''96. Composition of Taluk Boards:--1) ** ** **

2) The members of the State Legislative Assembly representing a part or whole of the taluk whose territorial constituencies lie within the Taluk, and the members of the State Legislative Council ordinarily resident in the Taluk shall be entitled to take part in the proceedings of, and vote at, the meetings of the Taluk Board'.

It refers to members of the State Legislative Assembly and members of the State Legislative Council. So far as the members of the State Legislative Assembly are concerned, they are entitled to take part in the proceedings and vote at the meeting of the Taluk Development Board having jurisdiction over a part or the whole taluk, lying within the territorial constituency of the Legislative Assembly concerning the particular member. Pro-vision is also made in respect of members of the State Legislative Council. Their right to take part in the Taluk Board is subject to the condition that they should be 'ordinarily resident' in the Taluk. The learned counsel point out that no provision like this is made in so far as village Panchayats and District Development Councils are concerned. A broader provision is made under Section 187 of the Act in respect of District Development Councils. The main ground of attack by the petitioners is that the members of the State Legislative Assembly and State Legislative Council are persons similarly placed and therefore there should have been no discrimination between them; the provisions of law making the distinction between them is invalid and liable to be struck down. This argument presupposes that the members of the Legislative Council are persons similarly circumstanced or placed. It appears to us that this assumption is fallacious.

4. Our attention was invited by the learned Special Government Pleader to the relevant provisions of the Constitution relating to the composition of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council of the State. Reference may be made to the provisions of Articles 170, 333 and 171 of the Constitution of India. Article 170 provides that the Legislative Assembly of each State shall consist of not more than 500, and not less than sixty, members chosen by direct election, from territorial constituencies in the State. Article 333 provides for a special representation of the Anglo Indian Community by nomination. Article 171 deals with the composition of the Legislative Council. Its strength is much less than that of the Legislative Assembly. The tenure of the members of the Legislative Council is not the same as that of the members of the Legislative Assembly nor is their qualification the same (vide Article 173). The provisions of Article 171 vary considerably from the provisions of Article 170 of the Constitution. While it is possible to predicate the territorial constituencies from which the members of the Legislative Assembly are elected, it is not possible to do so in the case of the members of the State Legislative Council. The powers of the Assembly and the Council are not the same. It thus follows that the position of a member of the Assembly is different from that of the member of the Legislative Council. Therefore, the basis on which the argument of discrimination is advanced is unacceptable.

It is a well-accepted principle that equality before the law and the equal protection of the laws means equal treatment of persons placed in similar circumstances. There can be no discrimination between one person and another if as regards the subject-matter of the Legislation their position is the same. This dictum is laid down by the Supreme Court in : [1950]1SCR869 , Chiranjit Lal v. Union of India. In this connection, our attention is invited by the counsel for Respondents 1 and 2 to the decision reported in : [1954]1SCR1117 , V. M. Syed Mohammad and Co. v. State of Andhra where it is observed as follows:--

'.....there is a strong presumption in favour of the validity of legislative classification and it is for those who challenge it as unconstitutional to allege and prove beyond all doubt that the Legislation arbitrarily discriminates between different persons similarly circumstanced'.

In the affidavit filed on behalf of the Respondents 1 and 2, the difference between the members of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council is set out in great detail. Even if the argument of the petitioner's counsel is accepted, it appears to us that the provisions of Section 96 (2) of the Act are quite reasonable. Section 96 (2) of the Act provides for representation by members of the State Legislative Assembly on the Taluk Development Boards. Why such a provision is made should be considered with reference to the functions of the several Boards constituted under the Act. The functions of the several Boards are set out in the Act. The obligatory functions of the Taluk Boards are prescribed under Section 130 of the Act and the discretionary functions are detailed in Section 131 of the Act. The Legislature has in its wisdom thought it necessary to provide for members of the State Legislative Assembly of a Assembly constituency including a part or the whole Taluk to take part in the proceeding of and vote at the meetings of the Taluk Boards. It is reasonable to suppose that this provision is made to make available to the Taluk Boards the views of the concerned members of the Legislative Assembly who are interested in the Constituency. This would be considered with reference to the functions of the several Boards constituted under the Act. The functions of the Boards are set out in the Act under the Article 130 of the Constitution. It appears to us therefore reasonable that a member of the Assembly who is chosen from the Assembly constituency can be allowed to be a member of a Taluk Development Board whose jurisdiction includes a part of his constituency, so that he may safeguard the interest of his constituency. These considerations do not avail in the case of a member of the Legislative Council.

If, once the provisions of Section 96 (2) of the Act are held to be reasonable, the next question will be to interpret the provisions of the said Section. The petitioner's counsel drew our attention to the provisions of Section 105 of the Act, providing for the prohibition of simultaneous membership to more than one Taluk Board. They submit that the principle underlying this provision is that a person cannot be a member of more than one Taluk Development Board. Therefore, they argued that the provisions of Section 90 (2) should be read as confining the right to participate in the proceedings of the Taluk Board by a member of the Legislative Assembly to one Taluk Board only.

The wording of Section 96 (2) of the Act does not support this contention. It is reasonable to accept the interpretation placed by the respondent that when the Assembly constituency covers a part of one Taluk Board or another, he must have the right to take part in the proceedings of the Taluk Boards falling within Ms assembly constituency. To confine the right given to a member of the Legislative Assembly under Section 96 (2) of the Act to only one Taluk Board the jurisdiction of which falls partly within his assembly constituency, it would result in depriving the other Taluk Board a part or whole of whose territorial jurisdiction is covered by the constituency of the said member of the Mysore Legislative Assembly from the participation of such member. This cannot be the intention of the Legislature. The legislative intention appears to be that if the constituency of a member of the Mysore Legislative Assembly covers a part or the whole of a particular Taluk Board, the member of the Legislative Assembly should have a right to take part the proceedings of the Taluk Board concerned; it may be one or more. Therefore, it appears to us that Section 96 (2) of the Act does not support the contention of the petitioners that the third respondent in each of these cases, can be a member of only one of the Taluk Boards a part of whose jurisdiction falls within his Assembly Constituency. Therefore we do not find any merit in these two writ petitions. They are dismissed.

5. In the circumstances of these cases,we make no order as to costs.

6. Petitions dismissed.


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