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The Panchayat Board, by Its President, Sri Koneti Kutumba Rao Vs. the Inspector of Local Boards and Municipal Councils and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Petn. No. 4558 of 1950
Judge
Reported inAIR1951Mad775; (1951)IMLJ285
ActsMadras Local Boards Act, 1920 - Sections 45(1), 45A, 45A(1) and 233; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 9; Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantThe Panchayat Board, by Its President, Sri Koneti Kutumba Rao
RespondentThe Inspector of Local Boards and Municipal Councils and ors.
Appellant AdvocateLakshminarayana, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateThe Govt. Pleader and ;Srimathi J. Sithamahalakshmi, Adv.
DispositionApplication dismissed
Cases ReferredMuhammad Bhuttan v. Inspector of Municipal Councils
Excerpt:
.....of india - application by panchayat board to quash order of inspector of municipal councils and local boards to supersede panchayat board under section 45a (1) - contention that under section 45a (1) before inspector could pass such order he had to form independent opinion which he was denied by interference of government before issuing show cause notice - perusal of relevant files revealed that though official order not been actually passed inspector himself proposed to take steps for supersession - fact that government set its seal of approval on action which inspector had decided upon should not render order eventually passed as order not passed bona fide in exercise of powers of inspector - both district panchayat officer as well as inspector came to conclusion that there was case..........for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the inspector of municipal councils & local boards dated 80-3-1950 purporting to supersede the kankipadu panchayat board under section 45a (1), madras local boards act for a period of one year with effect from the date of publication of the notification in the fort st. george gazette. the order was passed by the inspector of local boards in exercise of the powers delegated to him by govt. under section 233 of the act. the reason for his action is contained in the pre-amble to the order which runs thus : 'whereas in the opinion of the inspector of municipal councils & local boards the kannipadu panchayat board in the vijayawada taluk of krishnadistrict is incompetent to perform the duties imposed on it by law.' it was not.....
Judgment:

Rajamannar, C.J.

1. This is an appln. By the Panchayat Board, Kankipadu, Vijayawada, Taluk, Krishna District, represented by its President, praying for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the Inspector of Municipal Councils & Local Boards dated 80-3-1950 purporting to supersede the Kankipadu Panchayat Board under Section 45A (1), Madras Local Boards Act for a period of one year with effect from the date of publication of the notification in the Fort St. George Gazette. The order was passed by the Inspector of Local Boards in exercise of the powers delegated to him by Govt. under Section 233 of the Act. The reason for his action is contained in the pre-amble to the order which runs thus :

'Whereas in the opinion of the Inspector of Municipal Councils & Local Boards the Kannipadu Panchayat Board in the Vijayawada Taluk of KrishnaDistrict is incompetent to perform the duties imposed on it by law.'

It was not disputed by learned counsel for the petnr. that the power of the Local Govt. under Section 45A (1) of the Act was delegated to the Inspector of Local Boards. Among the papers filed by him in this Ct., there is an order of the Govt. dated 19-9-1941 under which the Govt. delegated to the Inspector of Municipal Council & Local Boards, inter alia, the power under Section 45A of the Act to supersede a Panchayat & all the powers in connection therewith which are conferred on the Provincial Govt. by that section. Something was said about the effect of Madras Act 11 [XI] of 1946, but nothing turns on that Act because, as the learned Govt. Pleader informed us, it never came into operation & also for the reason that even if it did come into operation, it would cease to be on the statute book two years after it came into force as it was an Act made by the Governor under Section 93, Government of India Act, 1935.

2. Learned counsel for the petnr. argued that under Section 45A(1), before the Inspector could pass an order of supersession, he had to form independently an opinion that the conditions in Section 45 have been fulfilled in respect of the particular Panchayat Board in question under Section 45A read with Section 45, it is the opinion of the Provincial Govt. & therefore the opinion of the Inspector of Municipal Councils after delegation that really matters & in this case, the Inspector was not given an opportunity to form his own individual opinion on the material available to him without interference by any outside individual or authority. So the argument of the petnr.'s counsel ran. If there is evidence, he contended, that there hag been an interference with his right to form his own independent opinion, then his order cannot be said to have been made bona fide & such an order can be quashed by this Ct. The gravamen of the charge consists in the fact that sometime before proceedings under Section 45A (1) commenced by the issue of a notice on 21-12-1949 to show cause why the Panohyat Board should not be superseded, the Govt. had expressed their view in unequivocal terms that there was sufficient reason for such a supersession. Learned counsel referred us to a letter from one of the Secretaries to the Govt. to the Inspector of Local Boards dated 8-12-1939. It is a demi-official communication requesting the Inspector to take necessary steps to supersede the Kankipadu Panahayat Board for one year. It was also definitely suggested in this letter that during the period of supersession, one T. Lakshmiah may be appointed as a special officer of the Panchayat Board, As appears from this letter itself, it was addressed on behalf of the Govt. after the current file relating to the subject had been summoned from the office of the Inspectorby the Govt. It was thereafter on 2112-1949 that the Inspector issued the notice under Section 45-A(1). The Panchayat Board sent up an elaborate reply meeting the charges made against it in the notice. The Diat. Board, Krishna to which also a copy of the notice issued to the Panchayat Board had been sent, wanted further time to submit their report. The Dist. Panchayat Officer, Krishna, was requested by the Inspector of Local Boards to offer his remarks urgently on the reply of the Panchayat Board & it is in evidence that the officer offered his remarks on 12 1-1950 & that the Inspector of Local Boards endorsed his remarks. They were both obviously for supersession. The Inspector forwarded the file once again to the Govt., & the Govt. passed an order on 14 3-1950 accepting the recommendation of the Inspector that the Panchayat Board should be superseded & permitting the Inspector to proceed to take further action in the matter accordingly. On 30-3-1950 the notification superseding the Panchayat Board was made & it was published on 11.4-1950 in the Fort St. George Gazette.

3. We must confess to an impression left on us that having delegated their power under Section 45-A of the Act to the Inspector of Municipal Councils & Local Boards, the Govt. interfered with the actual exercise of such powers by the Inspector in this case. There was an enquiry by the Panchayat Officer. He had submitted his report & in the ordinary course, the Inspector would have himself proceeded to take necessary action under Section 46-A (1) of the Act. It is unfortunate that he was not, as it were allowed to do so. The file was taken away from his office by the Govt. & sent back with a demi-official communication indicating that the Govt. would desire the Inspector to take further steps to supersede the Panehayat Board. Ordinarily, not only should such interference be deprecated, but an order passed after such interference, would have been also quashed as an order not made in the bona fide exercise of the powers conferred on the Inspector by delegation. We, however, do not propose to do so for two reasons. It appears clear from the file that though official orders had not been actually passed by the-Inspector, the Inspector himself proposed to take steps for supersession. The report of the Panchayat Officer suggested drastic action as necessary having regard to the irregularities which he discovered after inquiry. The fact that the Govt. set its seal of approval on the action which the Inspector had decided upon should not, we think, render the order eventually passed as an order not passed bona fide in the exercise of the powers of the Inspector. After all, the Govt. was the body entrusted with powers of supervision over the administration of local bodies by thestatute itself. No doubt, for the sake of administrative convenience, the Govt. were also given the power to delegate some of their duties & functions to their officers. But this delegation itself would not divorce the Govt. completely from all attention to the affairs of local board administration. It wag incumbent upon them to see that the local boards were functioning properly & if it came to their notice that any board was not functioning properly it would be within the scope of their legitimate duties to draw the attention even of their officer, the Inspector, to take appropriate action in the matter. Of course, they cannot dictate to him as to what ultimately he should do ; but they can certainly initiate proceedings in the sense that they can move the Inspector to take action, appropriate in the circumstances, just as any member of the public can move the Inspector after bringing to his notice irregularities or abuse of powers on the part of a local body to induce him to take action under Section 45-A (1).

4. Another reason why we have refrained from interfering with the order is that after the preliminary notice was issued, an explanation was submitted by the Panchayat Board & presumably it was considered & both the Dist. Panchayat Officer & the Inspector of Local Boards came to the conclusion that there was a case for supersession. The fact that finally the Govt. also agreed with them would not render their opinion any the less their own opinion. We are, therefore, unable to hold that the order of the Inspector was not an order made bona fide in the exercise of his powers.

5. We cannot, however, refrain from expressing our surprise that long before the order of supersession had been made, & in fact long before even the preliminary notice under Section 45 A (1} had issued the Govt. should suggest a particular individual to the Inspector to be appointed as the Special Officer after supersession, practically indicating that the supersession would follow as a matter of course. But we do not think that the order itself would be vitiated because of this action of the Govt,

6. Learned counsel for the petnr. tried to make some point out of the fact that the Inspector did not wait for a reply from the Dist. Board, Krishna, to which the notice under Section 45-A (1) was sent in accordance with the statutory provision. The records, however, show clearly that the Dist. Board did not send their reply within the time fixed in the notice, viz., two weeks from the date of receipt of the notice. It is clear that even as late as 28-1-1950 no communication had been received from the Dtst. Board. The Inspector is not bound to wait indefinitely for a reply from the Dist, Board even though the time fixed under the notice bad expired.

7. It was contended by the learned counsel for the petnr. that the Inspector did not make any inquiry as regards the several charges made against the Board in the preliminary notice & therefore the order was bad. We do not see anything in the material provisions of the Act which compels the Inspector to make an inquiry. He did call for a report from the Dy. Panchayat Officer & he must have considered that report as well as other material available to him. No doubt the order of the Inspector is very cryptic & is practically a reproduction of a part of Section 45 (1) of the Act. The officers on whom statutory powers are conferred should realise that there should be a substantial compliance with the conditions laid down by a statute before they can validly exercise the powers conferred on them. It is not sufficient merely to reproduce the section under which they are acting. There must be something ex facie the order passed by them to show that there are reasons for the order & that the conclusion is based on materials before them. But merely because the order of the Inspector could have been more full, we do not think it can be said that the order as it stands is without jurisdiction or that there is any error apparent on its face.

8. So far as merits are concerned, we have recently held that it is not for this Ct, in certiorari to embark on an enquiry & find whether particular charges have or have not been made out. The same view was taken by a learned Judge of this Ct. in Muhammad Bhuttan v. Inspector of Municipal Councils : AIR1937Mad801 .

9. The appln. is, therefore, dismissed.


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