1-2 * * * *
3. Mr. J. S. Bhatt, the learned advocate for the petitioner, firstly urged that the letter of resignation, Annexure D, was not tendered to the competent authority and, therefore, the first part of Section 46 (1) was not complied with and so the resignation letter was no resignation letter at all. Under Section 46 (1), the Sarpanch may resign from his office by tendering his resignation in writing to the competent authority. This means and must mean that the man must deliver either personality or through any agent like Post office, the letter of resignation intending it to reach the addressee. Letters of resignations are to be construed very strictly.
4. A case analogous to the one on hand had arisen before the Division Bench of this, court in the Special Civil Application. No. 487 of 1963 decided on 06-09-1963 by the Division Bench consisting of Miabhov and Mehta JJ. as they then were. In that case, the letter of resignation was addressed by the onetime president of the Ranpur Municipality to the Commissioner and a copy was endorsed to the municipality by him. As far as the resignation as the president was concerned the Commissioner Purported to accept the same, but with respect to his resignation as a councillor of the municipality, the Commissioner thought that the matter lay within the powers of the President. A question arose as to whether the said letter of resignation, copy of, which was endorsed by this President in his capacity as the member to the municipality and not to the President of the municipality was valid resignation or not. The Division Bench in this connection states as follows: -
'In our judgment, the prescription contained in that section must also be strictly complied with. (It is to be noted that at the relevant time the municipality had come to be substituted by interim gram panchayat). It is the resignation of his membership of the interim gram panchayat that will sever the connection of a member as a member with the interim gram Panchayat and not the resignation of any other office. If Narottamdas was intending to sever his tie with the extinct municipality, then in our judgment having regard to the fact that the municipality was already extinct, such an attempt on his part was futile and ineffective... The essence of S. 46, sub-s. (3) of the Panchayats Act is that the member, in order to sever his connection with the interim gram panchayat must tender his resignation of that office. In our judgment, on the facts of the present case, such an event has not taken place.'
5. Mr. Quershi, the learned advocate for the contending respondents Nos. 1 to 3 urged that in the routine course, the letter of resignation, Annexure A, was channelled by the respondent No. 5, to the respondent 6, who was the competent authority, but when the law requires that the letter of resignation must be tendered to the competent authority, it is implicit that the same should be tendered either personally or through some agency to the competent authority. Had the letter, Annexure A, been containing a stipulation that if the Taluka Development Officer is not the competent authority, he may hand over the letter of resignation to the competent authority, the matter perhaps would have been different. Here the petitioner submitted the letter, Annex. A, to the Taluka Development Officer, thinking that he is the Person competent to accept his resignation. In this view of the matter, the impugned order, Annexure D cannot be allowed to stand.
6. There is another reason also why the petition, should be allowed. Under Section 46 (4) of the Act, 'if any dispute regarding any resignation arises, it shall be referred for decision to such officer as the State Government may by general or special order appoint in that behalf and the decision of such shall be final.' The respondent No. 5, as the authority acting under Section 46(4) gave a decision and the Legislature called it final. What is the import of the word 'final' in a situation like the one on hand? We have got the Full Bench decision of this High Court in the case of Madhaji Lakhiram v Mashrubhai Mahadevbhai Rabari 3 Gui LR 438: (AIR 1962 Gui 235). The Full Bench of this court in that case held, of course in a case arising under Section 88-C of the Bombay Tenancy Act, that the word 'final' meant 'not subject to appeal' and 'not being subject to revision'. The decision under Section 46 (4) of the Gujarat Panchayats Act is a judicial decision as would be the decision under Section 88-C of the Bombay Tenancy Act. When in a Piece of legislation like the one on hand the Legislature says that a particular decision shall be final, it is to be understood to mean that for the Purposes of that Act, it is to be treated as a closed chapter and it cannot be interfered with by any authority normally competent to exercise revisional or appellate jurisdiction.
7. Mr. Takwani, the learned Asstt. Government Pleader, in this connection invited my attention to the judgment of the Supreme Court, where according to him, a different note has been struck. It is the case of Everest Apartments Co-op. Housing Society Ltd. Bombay v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1966 SC 1449. Even in that case, the Supreme Court stated as follows (at p. 1452): -
'The word 'final' in this context means that the order is not subject to an ordinary appeal or revision.'
It however held that Section 154 of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act which gives an overall power to the Government for the purpose of superintendence, was not intended to be hit by the provision of finality. This Judgment of the Supreme Court therefore can be referred to in support of this conclusion of mine but to the extent It purports to support the submission of Mr.Takwani and also Quresh it is treated as peculiar to the purpose of that Act.
8. In above view of the matter and on the two grounds set out above, the impugned, order, Annexure D is set aside and the order, Annexure C, is restored. Rule is accordingly made absolute with no order as to costs.
9. Petition allowed.