1. These 154 landowners, cultivators and residents including the Gram Sabha and the Sarpanch of village Rania, Tehsil and District Gurdaspur, impugn the notifications issued under sub-secs. (1) and (3) of S. 5 of the Punjab Municipal Act (for short, the Act). Annexures P. 1 and P. 2, extending the limits of Municipal Committee, Dhariwal, leading to the inclusion of 2377 Kanals and 10 Marlas of land of this village within those limits.
2. The primary challenge to these notifications is on the ground of non-compliance of the provisions of sub-section (1) of S. 5 of the Act inasmuch as the State Government failed to determine the other manner in which its intent to extend the Municipal limits was to be published and the lack of such publication. On behalf of respondent No. 1, i.e., the State Govt. it is pleaded in para. 1 of the written statement that the notifications, Annexures P. 1 and P. 2, were published in the Government Gazette and for the rest of the compliance of the provisions of sub-section (1) it was for respondent No. 2, that is, the Municipal Committee, to carry out the same. In the later part of the said written statement, i.e. para 3(c), it has been stated that publication was, in fact. made in village Rania by beat of drum on Feb. 22, 1974 informing the villagers to file objections, if any, with the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, within six weeks from the date of the publication. It is also maintained that notices to that effect were pasted at conspicuous places in the village. The Municipal Committee in its return too maintains that such a publication through beat of drum was carried out and a note recorded by the Secretary of the Municipal Committee (Annexure R. 2) is also produced in support of this stand. In order to appreciate the respective contentions of the learned counsel for the parties it is but necessary to reproduce the contents of sub-section (1) of S. 5 of the Act which read as follows :--
'(1) The State Government, may, by notification published in the Official Gazette and in such other manner as it may determine, declare its intention to include within a municipality any local area in the vicinity of the same and defined in the notification whether such area is a municipality or a notified area under this Act or not.'
The stand of Mr. Amba, learned counsel for the petitioner is that this sub-section makes it imperative for the Government to publicise its intention about the extension of the municipal limits of a municipality in such other manner or mode (in addition to the publication in the Gazette) as it may determine. Further the learned counsel maintains that this determination has to be in each and every case whenever the State Government makes up its mind to extend the limits of a Municipality. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the respondents maintain that (i) the provisions of sub-s. (1) of S. 5 laying down that the intent of the Government has to be published in any other manner than the publication in the State Gazette is only directory, (ii) the Government can take a general decision laying down the manner and mode in which it is to be published; and (iii) in the case in hand, such manner and mode was determined and was complied with.
3. After hearing the learned counsel for the parties at length and giving my thoughtful consideration to the entire matter, I find that the contentions raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners are full of merit. The argument of the learned counsel for the respondents stated at No. (i) above was considered in two earlier decisions of this Court in Gupta Iron & Steel Rolling Mills v. State of Punjab (CWP No. 2889 of 1975, decided on 5-9-1979 : (1980 Tax LR NOC 11) and Ram Singh v. State of Haryana, AIR 1978 Punj & Har 290, and was negatived.
4. So far as the stand of the learned counsel for the respondents stated at No. (ii) is concerned, I find that bare reading of sub-section (1) of S. 5 of the Act indicates that the other manner in which the State Government is to declare or publicise its intention about the inclusion of any area within the municipal limits. refers to a particular decision of a notification issued by the Government and this decision has to be taken by the Government and none else. In this view of the matter, there cannot possibly be any general determination of the method or manner in which the intention of the State Government has to be publicised. Such a determination has to be made keeping in view the facts and circumstances of each case.
5. With regard to the submission mentioned at No. (iii), the learned counsel for the State respondent very frankly and fairly concedes that there is no record available with him to show that while issuing notification Annexure P-1, the State Government ever determined the other mode or manner of publication in which the intention specified in this notification was to be publicised. He however, points out that a general decision was taken by the State Government somewhere in the year 1954 where by it had been laid down that when ever a notification under S. 5(1) of the Act is Published in the gazette, the contents of the same should be publicised by beat of drum and affixation. At the same time he points out that even that record is not available with him or with the department. In the face of this factual position anything done by the municipal committee even if it has been actually done--though it is being disputed by the learned counsel for the petitioner--would not satisfy the requirement of sub-section (1) of S. 5. As already pointed out, the decision about the mode and manner of publication had to be taken by the Government and it is for the Government to see to its compliance. It cannot be left to the municipal authorities to choose the manner in which such publicity has to be made or to satisfy itself that it has actually been so made.
6. In the light of the discussion above, I find that the notification issued under sub-s. (1) of S. 5 of the act (Annexure P.1) in so for as it relates to the revenue estate of village Rania, is wholly unsustainable and as a necessary consequence, the notification following it, i.e. Annexure P. 2, issued under sub-s. (3) has also to be quashed to that extent. I order accordingly with no order as to costs.
7. Order accordingly.