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Bhagat Ram Vs. the Gram Panchayat and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1980CriLJ1063
AppellantBhagat Ram
RespondentThe Gram Panchayat and anr.
Excerpt:
- - 1908 (v of 1908) and the indian evidence act, 1872 (act i of 1872) shall not apply to proceedings before panchayats save to the extent mentioned in this act, but the panchayat may ascertain the facts of any criminal case or civil or revenue suit by all legitimate means in its power and thereafter pass such order, sentence or decree as may be in accordance with justice, equity and good conscience......j.1. the gram patichayat of village kalitran took action under sections 21 and 23 of the punjab gram panchayat act, 1952, hereinafter called the act, against bhagat ram and vide its order dated 18th may, 1979, it imposed fine on him. bhagat ram feeling aggrieved by that order preferred a revision petition under section 51 of the act against that order in the court of the sub-divisional judicial magistrate. anandpur sahib (a delegatee of the powers from the chief judicial magistrate, ropar),-shri jagroop singh mehal. sital singh sarpanch appeared before that court on behalf of the gram panchayat and presented an application alleging therein that since new section 23a has been introduced by way of amendment of the act, the right of filing a revision petition by the party aggrieved by.....
Judgment:
ORDER

S.S. Sidhu, J.

1. The Gram Patichayat of village Kalitran took action under Sections 21 and 23 of the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act, 1952, hereinafter called the Act, against Bhagat Ram and vide its order dated 18th May, 1979, it imposed fine on him. Bhagat Ram feeling aggrieved by that order preferred a revision petition under Section 51 of the Act against that order in the Court of the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate. Anandpur Sahib (a delegatee of the powers from the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ropar),-Shri Jagroop Singh Mehal. Sital Singh Sarpanch appeared before that Court on behalf of the Gram Panchayat and presented an application alleging therein that since new Section 23A has been introduced by way of amendment of the Act, the right of filing a revision petition by the party aggrieved by the order of the Gram Panchayat passed under Sections 21, 22 and 23 of the Act has been taken away and now the only remedy available in such a situation is to file an appeal against the order of the Gram Panchayat made under the above three sections before the District Development and Panchayat Officer in the State of Punjab and the Deputy Director in the State of Haryana. It was also alleged that the Court of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, therefore, had no jurisdiction to entertain the revision petition presented before it by the Gram Panchayat. The aforesaid Magistrate after hearing both the sides, vide its order dated 15th October, 1979 (copy An-nexure P-1), rejected the contention of the Gram Panchayat and held that the revision petition was maintainable in his Court as his Court was competent to adjudicate upon the matter in question.

The Gram Panchayat, through its Sarpanch, filed a revision petition against the aforesaid order dated 15th October, 1979, in the Court of the Sessions Judge, Rupnagar, alleging therein that the revision petition filed by Bhagat Ram in the Court of the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Anandpur Sahib, was not competent and that the said Magistrate had no jurisdiction to entertain the same. It was also prayed that the revision petition pending in that Court be held as incompetent. The learned Sessions Judge, after hearing the counsel for both the parties, came to a finding that from the scheme of the Act, as it stands amended after the coming into force of Section 23-A, it is abundantly clear that right of the aggrieved party to claim remedy against the order passed by the Gram Panchayat under Section 21, or 22 or 23 of the Act from the Court of the Judicial Magistrate has been taken away from that Court and that exclusive and conclusive jurisdiction has been vested in the District Development and Panchayat Officer (in the State of Punjab) before whom appeal lies against that order. It was also found by the learned Sessions Judge that the learned Magistrate had taken an erroneous view of the legal position and that he had illegally assumed iurisdiction in the matter to himself. Accordingly, he, vide his order dated 22nd February, 1980 (copy Annexure P-2), accepted the revision petition, struck down the order of the learned Magistrate and declared that the revision petition pending before the learned Magistrate was not competent. Bhagat Ram feeling aggrieved by the said order of the learned Sessions Judge filed the present miscellaneous application under Section 482, Cr.P.C. in this Court, praying therein that the aforesaid order, Annexure P-2, may be quashed.

2. At the very outset it may be remarked that instead of filing this miscellaneous application under Section 482, Cr.P.C. the petitioner ought to have filed a writ petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India read with Section 482, Cr.P.C. Since it was not so done and the parties would be put to inconvenience if the petitioner is allowed to amend his application, this application shall be treated to have been filed as a writ petition under Article 227 of the Constitution read with Section 482, Cr.P.C.

3. The question whether the impugned order of the learned Sessions Judge (Annexure P-2) can be sustained on merits or not, in my opinion, cannot be gone into because, as it shall be presently discussed, the revision petition in which that order was passed could not be entertained by the learned Sessions Judge since he had no iurisdiction to entertain the same. Obviously, the Sessions Judge entertained that revision petition because he was under the impression that he had power to do so under Sections 397 and 399 read with Section 401, Cr.P.C. But, in my opinion, the Sessions. Judge is not a competent authority to take cogmzanoe of or to entertain any matter arising under the Act. The Act is a special law and a complete Code. All the authorities which are competent to take action in respect of any matter covered by the Act are specifically mentioned in it and the Sessions Judge nowhere figures as such in the Act. For the purposes of dealing with criminal proceedings under the Act, as far as the State of Puniab is concerned, the competent authorities mentioned therein are Gram Panchayat, District Development and Panchayat Officer and the Chief Judicial Magistrate. Of course, the Chief Judicial Magistrates of the Punjab State have delegated their powers under the Act to the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrates posted at the Sub-Divisional Headquarters. The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure are not applicable to the proceedings before the Panchayat save to the extent mentioned in the Act. Reference in this behalf be made to Section 66(1) of the Act which reads as under:

66. General-(1) The provisions of the Cr.P.C. 1973, the Civil P. C. 1908 (V of 1908) and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Act I of 1872) shall not apply to proceedings before Panchayats save to the extent mentioned in this Act, but the Panchayat may ascertain the facts of any criminal case or civil or revenue suit by all legitimate means in its power and thereafter pass such order, sentence or decree as may be in accordance with justice, equity and good conscience.

In view of the above statutory provision, I am of the considered opinion that the Sessions Judge has no power to deal with any matter covered by the Act in any capacity. Of course, if any of the above mentioned three authorities passes any illegal order relating to criminal matters that aggrieved party can ultimately get relief from the High Court by filing a writ petition under Article 227 of the Constitution read with Section 482, Cr.P.C. as the High Court under those provisions is vested with wide powers, including that of judicial supervision and superintendence over all Tribunals and Courts in the State. Hence, on this short ground, the impugned order of the Sessions Judge, dated 22nd February, 1980, Annexure P-2, which is an illegal order in the eye of law, is liable to be quashed.

4. It has been argued by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that any party which is aggrieved by an order of the Gram Panchayat made under Section 21 or 22 or 23 of the Act, can file either an appeal under Section 23-A or a revision under Section 51 of the Act against that order and since Bhagat Ram petitioner, who was aggrieved by the order dated 18th May, 1979, passed by the Gram Panchayat under Sections 21 and 23 of the Act, elected to file a revision petition under Section 51 of the Act against that order, it may be held that his revision petition is maintainable. The learned Counsel for the State has contended that in view of the provisions of Section 23-A of the Act, the petitioner was competent to file, only an appeal and not a revision petition and, therefore, the revision petition filed by him in the Court of the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate is not maintainable. I need not go into this question in this application in which only the order dated 22nd February 1980 (Annexure P-2), passed by the Sessions Judge has been challenged. No prayer has been made in this application that a finding be given that the revision petition filed by Bhagat Ram under Section 51, Cr.P.C. against the order dated 18th May, 1979, of the Gram Panchayat is maintainable even in the face of the provisions of Section 23-A of the Act. Hence, I am most reluctant to adjudicate upon that controversial question. Of course, if the aggrieved party feels any necessity, it can, if so advised, get the matter decided by the High Court by filing a writ petition under Artcle 227 of the Constitution read with Section 482, Cr.P.C.

5. In the result, I accept this petition on the short ground that the learned Sessions Judge had no jurisdiction to entertain the revision petition and, as such, set aside the impugned order dated 22nd February, 1980 (Annexure P-2), passed by him. The order dated 11th April, 1980, insofar as it directed that operation of orders Annexures P. 1 and P. 2 is stayed, stands vacated.


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