K.S. Palaniswamy, J.
1. This petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution to quash the order of the respondent, the Executive Officer, Sriperumbudur Town Panchayat, dated 20th June, 1969.
2. The petitioner is the owner of door No. 58, Gandhi Road, Sriperumbudur. It was originally assessed to house tax at Rs. 36.09 for half year. The respondent served a special notice of house tax on the petitioner on 22nd August, 1968, fixing the house tax at Rs. 360 and library cess at Rs. 10-80, making in all Rs. 370-80. Against this, the petitioner filed a revision to the Executive Officer within the time allowed. As he did not receive any reply he sent a reminder to the respondent on 22nd February, 1969, enclosing a copy of the revision petition already filed. The respondent returned the revision petition stating that the said petition was filed out of time. Thereupon, the petitioner by a letter dated 9th March, 1969, pointed out to the respondent that the revision had already been filed within time and that the letter dated 22nd February, 1969, was only a reminder enclosing copy of the petition already filed. Thereupon, the respondent informed the petitioner by a communication dated 18th March, 1969, that the revision petition filed by the petitioner had been dismissed confirming the assessment. Against that order, the petitioner preferred an appeal to the panchayat under Rule 191 of the rules framed under the Madras Village Panchayats Act, 1958 and requested for a personal hearing. On 20th June, 1969, the petitioner was informed by a communication signed by the respondent that the appeal filed by the petitioner had been rejected. It is to quash this order that this writ petition has been filed.
3. Two contentions are urged on behalf of the petitioner. It is first contended that the dismissal of the revision petition by the Executive Officer without notice to the petitioner is in violation of Rule 11(A) under which notice to the petitioner is mandatory, Secondly it is contended that the appeal filed by the petitioner to the council could be disposed of only by the council; that it has been disposed of by the Executive Officer himself; and that the Executive Officer has no jurisdiction to arrogate to himself the powers of the Council and therefore the order passed by the Executive Officer on the appeal petition is totally void as being without jurisdiction.
4. The respondent has not filed any counter-affidavit.
5. Both the contentions urged on behalf of the petitioner are well-founded. Rules 11-A says that no petition under Rule 10 or Rule 11 shall be disposed of, unless the petitioner has been given a reasonable opportunity to appear either in person or by authorised agent and represent the case. The complaint of the petitioner is that before his revision filed before the respondent was disposed of, he was not given any notice. This allegation is not met by the respondent. It would therefore follow that the order passed by the respondent rejecting the revision petition filed by the petitioner, without issuing a notice to him is in violation of the mandatory provision contained in Rule 11-A.
6. The petitioner's appeal filed before the council appears to have been disposed of by the Executive Officer himself. That fact is seen from the communication sent to the petitioner on 20th June, 1969, in which it is stated that the appeal petition was examined by the Executive Officer and that no reduction was made in the Tax. This shows that the appeal petition was not considered by the panchayat which alone can consider the appeal, but was considered by the Executive Officer. The order passed by the Executive Officer is clearly without jurisdiction and is void ab initio.
7. The further question is, whether the petitioner is entitled to be heard by the panchayat inappeal preferred by him. Rule 20 says that no appeal to the Panchayat shall be heard unless it reaches the office within the time specified therein. There is no express rule similar to Rule 11-A enjoining a duty upon the panchayat to issue notice to the person concerned before disposing of an appeal. But from the expression, 'No appeal to the panchayat shall be heard', it is manifest that the appellant before the panchayat is entitled to be heard. The expression is not 'No appeal shall be entertained.' From the use of the word, 'heard', it is manifest that the appellant is entitled to be heard, if he complies with the conditions enumerated therein. In this view, I think that the petitioner is entitled to be heard by the panchayat before his appeal is disposed of. That was also not complied with.
8. Having regard to these infirmities, the petitioner is entitled to succeed. The writ petition is accordingly allowed. The revision petition filed by the petitioner the before respondent is directed to be restored, and dealt with in accordance with law, in the light of the foregoing observations. There will be no order as to costs.