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Merla Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Chowdary Vs. the Government of Andhra Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Appeal No. 383 of 1979
Judge
Reported inAIR1980AP154
ActsAndhra Pradesh Gram Panchayats Act, 1964 - Sections 25(2), 25(3) and 232; Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayats (Amendment) Act, 1976
AppellantMerla Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Chowdary
RespondentThe Government of Andhra Pradesh and ors.
Appellant AdvocateG.R. Subbarayan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader and ;P. Bala Krishnamurthy, Adv.
Excerpt:
civil - alternative remedy - sections 25 (2), 25 (3) and 232 of andhra pradesh gram panchayats act, 1964 and andhra pradesh gram panchayats (amendment) act, 1976 - whether sarpanch after enactment of act no. 46 of 1976 has lost his revisional remedy under section 232 - legislature if intended to deny sarpanch all remedies except imperfect remedy provided under section 25 (3) there would be clear indication of it - act no. 46 of 1976 has no way altered or amended revisional remedy to which sarpanch is entitled - held, appeal liable to be dismissed on ground that sarpanch had inherent right of revisional remedy under section 232 even after enactment of act no. 46 of 1976. - - court actions of panchayat matters are by far too many and the amount of money expended and the time spent on..........a revision petition filed by one p. venkata rao, (third respondent herein) sarpanch of velangi gram panchayat, against a written communication of the divisional panchayat officer, kakinada , dated 22-5-1979 holding that the aforesaid sarpanch of velangi having suffered a disqualification under section 25 clause (2) of the andhra pradesh gram panchayats act, 1964 (hereinafter referred to as 'the act') ceased to be the sarpanch of the valangi gram panchayat with effect from 3-5-79. 2. the prodigious litigation in our courts on gram panchayat matters attests to the social fact of a near complete fragmentation of our rural life which is probably due to the paucity of sufficient opportunities for creative employment. court actions of panchayat matters are by far too many and the amount of.....
Judgment:

P.A. Chowdary, J.

1. This writ appeal by the writ petitioner is against an order of dismissal passed by our learned brother Ramachandra Rao J. The writ petition was filed for the issuance of a writ of prohibition forbidding the State of Andhra Pradesh from proceeding with a revision petition filed by one P. Venkata Rao, (third respondent herein) Sarpanch of Velangi Gram Panchayat, against a written communication of the Divisional Panchayat Officer, Kakinada , dated 22-5-1979 holding that the aforesaid Sarpanch of Velangi having suffered a disqualification under Section 25 clause (2) of the Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayats Act, 1964 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') ceased to be the Sarpanch of the Valangi Gram Panchayat with effect from 3-5-79.

2. The prodigious litigation in our Courts on Gram Panchayat matters attests to the social fact of a near complete fragmentation of our rural life which is probably due to the paucity of sufficient opportunities for creative employment. Court actions of Panchayat matters are by far too many and the amount of money expended and the time spent on them is wholly disproportionately large to the public good promoted by this wasteful litigation.

3. The third respondent elected as a Sarpanch of the Velangi Gram Panchayat in the year 1970 for a term of five-years, in continuing to be in office by operation of law enacted from time to time which is unwilling to hold Panchayat elections. Now during the extended period of the third respondent's tenure of office, the State Legislature enacted Act No. 46 of 1976 amending clause (2) of Section 25 and adding clause (3) of Section 25 of the Act. It is the interpretation of these provisions of the amended law which is the concern of the present writ appeal.

4. The Divisional Panchayat Officer, Kakinada, by his communications dated 22-5-79 held the third respondent to have ceased to be the Sarpanch with effect from 3-5-1979 and also to have suffered a disqualification for being elected as Sarpanch for the reason that he had failed to convene a meeting of the Gram Sabha within 180 days. Against the communication of the Divisional Panchayat Officer, Kakinada, the third respondent preferred a revision petition to the Government under Section 232 of the Act. The Government entertained that revision and passed an order on 10-7-1979 keeping in abeyance the aforesaid proceedings of the Divisional Panchayat Officer, Kakinada. The legal effect of that governmental order is of course to keep the third respondent in office, a consequence which can neither be countenanced nor tolerated by the writ petitioner. A writ petition out of which the present appeal arises was therefore filed by the upasarpanch for the issuance of a writ of prohibition restraining the Government of Andhra Pradesh from proceeding with the enquiry into the revision petition filed by the third respondent. The short-ground of the writ appellant is that after the enactment of the aforesaid Act No. 46 of 1976, the Government has lost its revisional powers and jurisdiction undoubtedly hitherto enjoyed by it under Sec. 232 of the Act. The appellant therefore asks this court to prohibit the Government from entertaining the third respondent's revision.

5. In order to appreciate the argument of the appellant it is necessary to sketch the story of the relevant Legislation. Section 25 clause (2) of the Act, before its amendment by Act No. 46 of 1976, declared it to be the duty of a Sarpanch to convene a meeting of a Gram Panchayat so that at least one meeting of the Gram Panchayat is held in every month. Now the aforesaid Act No. 46 of 1976 had added one more duty to the above by declaring that the Sarpanch should also hold at least one meeting of the Gram Sabha within a period of one hundred eighty days from the time of the last meeting. The law relating to penalty both before and after the above amendment remains the same. It provides for the automatic incurring of penalties by the Sarpanch where the Sarpanch defaults in discharge of the aforesaid duties imposed by the Statute. The penalties consist not only in the loss of office for the Sarpanch but also in his incurring a disqualification for being re-elected as a Sarpanch within a period of one year. Section 25 clause (2) is enacted on the principle that it should be self-operative. In fact, it is so. But for the operation of Section 25 clause (2), the fact of failure of the Sarpanch to hold at least one meeting of the Gram Panchayat within a period of three months or one meeting of the Gram Sabha within a period of one hundred and eighty days must have occurred. Where a Sarpanch denies the occurring of that event, the question that would arise whether a Sarpanch did nor did not hold the meeting and thus incurred the above disqualification requires to be settled. Before the Act was amended such a question could be settled at the instance of the aggrieved Sarpanch only by a statutory remedy of a revision under Section 232 of the Act. A Full Bench of this Court in Kishta Reddy v. Collector, Karimnagar, : AIR1970AP180 ruled under the unamended Act that a notice of cessation of office and the incurring of disqualification under Section 25 clause (2) is revisable under Section 232 of the Act. It is clearly inherent in that scheme of the Statute as interpreted by the Full Bench that the affected Sarpanch should have a remedy for the ventilation of his grievance and for the protection of his rights which are sought to be taken away by the operation of Section 25 clause (2) of the Act. So far there can be no reasonable doubt. But the contention now raised by the appellant is that the effect of the operation of the aforesaid Act No. 46 of 1976 is by implication to take away altogether the right of revision hitherto being enjoyed by the affected Sarpanch. It is said by the appellant that the Legislature brought about this somewhat catastrophic change of rendering the affected Sarpanch almost remediless by Act No. 46 of 1976 through sub-clause (3) of Section 25 of the Act. It is therefore, necessary to read clause (3) of Section 25 added by the aforesaid Act No. 46 of 1976.

'Sub-clause (3): Every such cessation as is referred to in sub-section (2) shall be intimated by the Divisional Panchayat Officer in writing to the Sarpanch or person concerned and where the Sarpanch or the person concerned disputes the correctness of such cessation; the executive authority shall, at the direction of the Gram Panchayat or the Commissioner, may, within a period of two months from the date on which the intimation is given, apply to the District Munsif having jurisdiction over the area in which the office of the Gram Panchayat is situated for decision and his decision thereon shall be final'.

By means of the newly added clause (3) to Section 25 the aforesaid Act No. 46 of 1976 expressly provided for the first time that the Divisional Panchayat Officer should ultimate to the Sarpanch in writing the fact of cessation of office, that had automatically occurred under clause (2) of Section 25 of the Act. Again the aforesaid Act No. 46 of 1976 provided for, the first time that where the Sarpanch disputes the correctness of such cessation contending that he has not ceased to be the Sarpanch the executive authority shall, at the direction of the Gram Panchayat or the Commissioner of the Panchayat Raj, may apply to the concerned District Munsif for a decision on the dispute raised regarding the cessation of office of Sarpanch. The aforesaid Act No. 46 of 1976 says that the decision of the District Munsif shall be final. Basing upon the language of sub-cl. (3) of Section 25 of the Act, the appellant contends before us that after Act No. 46 of 1976, the only remedy open for a Sarpanch who contends that he has not ceased to be a Sarpanch is to get a decision of this claim adjudicated by the District Munsif acting through the executive authority of the Gram Panchayat or the Commissioner of Panchayat Raj. In other words, it is the argument of the appellant that the Sarpanch, after the enactment of the aforesaid Act No. 46 of 1976, had lost his revisional remedy under Section 232 of the Act. It is for this reason and on this basis the appellant has filed the writ petition for the issuance of a writ of prohibition forbidding the Government from entertaining the revision petition filed by the Sarpanch.

6. Under the A. P. Gram Panchayat Act, 1964 a Sarpanch has a right to go up to the end of his term. If he were to be forced out of his office cutting short his tenure on the basis of the grounds mentioned in Section 25 clause (2) of the Act, Plainly, that would amount to affecting the rights of the Sarpanch. What is the remedy that law provides for the protection of this right of the Sarpanch is the central question of this writ appeal. Does Section 25 clause (3) of the Act afford him such a remedy and does it take away him such a remedy and does it take away the existing revisional remedy are the further question to be considered and answered.

7. It must be admitted that Sec. 25 clause (3) has been drafted in the clumsiest form conceivable throwing doubt on the wisdom of continuing the use of English as the language of our law. It must be noted that under Section 25 clause (3). The affected Sarpanch cannot directly go before the District Munsif and have his claim to continue as Sarpanch adjudicated. The executive authority of the Gram Panchayat can only apply to the District Munsif for a decision on the disputed question raised by the Sarpanch provided the Gram Panchayat, by its resolution, directs the executive authority to apply to the District Munsif. How this dispute must be raised by the Sarpanch and with whom, are left unspecified by Sec. 25 cl. (3). If the Gram Panchayat chooses for one reason or the other, not to ask the District Munsif for a decision on the disputed question, a deadlock is sure to be created. In that situation, is it the intention of the law to continue the Sarpanch in office or is it its intention to discontinue him in office? Then, could it be the intention of the Legislature that the Sarpanch should go without a remedy and not only lose his office but also suffer a disqualification of ineligibility to be reelected? Thanks to the declining standards of drafting, to none of these questions Section 25 provides specific answers. We cannot by our interpretation make the remedial fate of the Sarpanch turn upon these uncertain and unsatisfactory provisions of Section 25. These are factors which we should take into our consideration for rejecting the appellant's interpretation of Section 25 (3) as providing the only remedy for the affected Sarpanch. If the Legislature intended to deny the Sarpanch all remedies except the imperfect remedy provided under Section 25 clause (3), one would expect the Legislature to say so in clear language. The Legislature which for the first time, provided for the adjudication of this type of dispute at the instance of Gram Panchayat or the Commissioner of Panchayat Raj surely cannot be attributed with an intention to deny the affected Sarpanch the right to a personal remedy which he is hitherto enjoying. There can be sorrow without tears, but not a right without a remedy. Adopting Benedeto Croce, the famous Italian Philosopher, we can assert that economics without value, aesthetics without expression, ethics without duty, logic without the concept and right without remedy, are inconceivable. Every right must have a remedy is the dogma of the English law; Ubi jus ibi remedium. Ubi remedium ubi jus. May be truer. Where there is a remedy, there is a right. Remedy is the soul of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence. Remedies are the life of rights, said Justice Bradley in Campbell v. Holt ((1884) 115 US 620, 631). It is the availability of a right to sue in a Civil Court that turned the English law into a law of liberty. It is the absence of an effective remedial system that left the continental declarations of human rights without much of practical utility. What Lord Hold observed in Ashby v. White 1 Sm LC 253.

'If men will multiply injuries, actions must be multiplied too, for every man that is injured ought to have his recompense'.

Is an all-time truth.

8. We cannot, therefore, on the basis of the clumsily drafted Act No. 46 of 1976, deny altogether the affected Sarpanch a personal remedy which he is hitherto enjoying. Further, the aforesaid Act No. 46 of 1976 has , is no way altered or amended the revisional remedy to which the Sarpanch is declared to be entitled under the aforesaid judgment of a Full Bench of this Court in Kishta Reddy v. Collector, Karimnagar (supra). But the appellant contends that as the sub-clause (3) of Section 25 declares the decision of the District Munsif to be final, our holding that the Sarpanch still has remedy under Section 232 of the Act is likely to lead to a conflict of decisions. This argument, though plausible, is not acceptable for a variety of reasons. To the proceedings under Section 25 clause (3) of the Act, the Sarpanch is not to nominee made a party by the Statute. He cannot therefore strictly speaking be heard or seen in those proceedings before the District Munsif. He cannot therefore be bound by the decision of such proceedings to which he may not be a party. Even on the assumption that the Statute contemplated the addition of the affected Sarpanch as a party to the proceedings under Section 25 clause (3), there are reasons to hold why they cannot operate to bar the Sarpanch's right of revision. The applicability of the so-called 'remedy' under Section 25 clause (3) is limited by limitation of two months period from the date on which the intimation of cessation of office was given to the Sarpanch. This would clearly mean that if the executive authority of the Gram Panchayat or the Commissioner of Panchayat Raj fails to act within that period of two months the Sarpanch would thereafter be rendered helpless. If the executive authority or the Commissioner, Panchayat Raj, delays the institution of the proceedings before the District Munsif till the last day of the period of two months limitation, again the Sarpanch would be rendered remediless during that period. At all times for want of power on the part of the District Munsif to issue an interim order maintaining the status quo, the Sarpanch during the pendency of the proceedings before the District Munsif would be forced to quit the office at least temporarily. In the words of justice Cardozo, 'the effect of postponement of a remedy would be equivalent to a denial of justice altogether.'

Above all, Section 25 clause (3) of the Act which does not invest the affected Sarpanch with a personal right to go before the District Munsif cannot be treated as his remedy. All this would clearly show that the legislature, by implication, could never have intended to destroy the existing right of revisional remedy provided for by the Statute to the affected Sarpanch. It is a well-accepted canon of interpretation that such a fundamental and basic change in law depriving parties of their existing rights cannot be intended, to be brought about by the Legislature by a sidewind. We therefore reject the argument of the appellant that the Sarpanch has no right to revisional remedy under Section 232 of the Act, after the enactment of Act No. 46 of 1976. In our view, the only way of reconciling Section 25 clause (3) with Section 232 of the Act is to treat the imperfect new remedy under Section 25 clause (3) as an alternative remedy available to such of those Sarpanches who choose in their discretion to go before the District Munsif instead of the Government.

9. A Divisional Bench of this Court had, in Writ Appeal No. 288 of 1979 held that Section 25 cl. (3) does not bar the jurisdiction of the Government to entertain the revision under Section 232 of the Act. We respectfully agree with that conclusion. For the reasons above-mentioned, we hold that the appellant's contention that the Government has no jurisdiction to entertain the revision petition filed by the Sarpanch of Velangi Gram Panchayat under Section 232 of the Act, is not correct. We accordingly dismiss this Writ Appeal.

10. Writ appeal dismissed.


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