1. Elections to the Gram Panchayat of village Palwali which was to consist of six members were held on the 1st July, 1971. Out of the 11 candidates for the election, the first six who secured the highest number of valid votes and who included two belonging to the Scheduled Castes, namely, Nand Kishor (securing 64 votes) and Kishan Chand, respondent No. 2 (62 votes) were declared elected in pursuance of the provisions of sub-section (4) of S. 5 of the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act, as amended by the Punjab Gram Panchayat (Haryana Amendment) Act, 1971.
It is the case of the petitioner, who secured 54 votes and was next below respondent No. 2 amongst the candidates securing the highest number of valid votes that the Gram Panchayat could not have as its members more than one Panch belonging to the Scheduled Castes in view of the contents of Cls. (a) and (b) of the first proviso to sub-s. (4) ibid which state:--
'Provided that for the period expiring on the 26th January, 1980-
(a) every Gram Panchayat shall, subject to the provisions of sub-clause (b), have one Panch belonging to the Scheduled Castes if their population is five per centum or more of the population of the Sabha area concerned;
(b) every Gram Panchayat with seven or more Panches shall have two Panches who are members of the Scheduled Castes if their population is ten per centum or more of the population of the Sabha area concerned'.
According to the petitioner, the Gram Panchayat of village Palwali falls within the ambit of clause (a) of the proviso which he urges, does not permit the election to it of more than one Panch belonging to the Scheduled Castes and he therefore, prays that the election of respondent No. 2 as a Panch be quashed and that he (the petitioner) be himself declared duly elected as such.
2. There is no force in the petition. All that clause (a) of the proviso directs is that every Gram Panchayat must have one Panch belonging to the Scheduled Castes. It does not further provide that the number of such Panches on any Panchayat covered by it shall not be more than one. In other words, it provides reservation of one seat for persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes while the other seats are 'general' or 'open' seats to which any person whether belonging to the Scheduled Castes or not may get elected. The interpretation sought to be put on the clause on behalf of the petitioner is not made out from the language used but even if it could be held that the language is ambiguous so as to admit of that interpretation in the alternative the same would have to be discarded as not conforming to the intention of the legislature in view of the provisions of Art. 15 of the Constitution according to which legislation providing for reservation of the members of the Scheduled Castes or Backward classes or of women etc., is permissible in certain cases but which do not recognise the reservation of seats for persons not belonging to the categories just above mentioned. The legislature could not have intended to mean what the Constitution does not permit it to enact when another intention in conformity with the Constitution is derivable from the language employed in clause (a). It would thus appear that according to that clause while it was incumbent on the Gram Panchayat to have one Panch belonging to scheduled castes, it cannot be said that it had any mandate to reserve the other five seats for persons not belonging to the Scheduled Castes. Those seats were thus liable to be filled by candidates securing the highest number of valid notes whether or not they belonged to the Scheduled Castes.
3. In the result, the petition fails and is dismissed but with no order as to costs.
4. Writ petition dismissed.