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The Panchayat Board C. Mutlur by President Vs. the Regional Inspector of Municipal Councils and Local Boards Central Range and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstituion
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1958)2MLJ221
AppellantThe Panchayat Board C. Mutlur by President
RespondentThe Regional Inspector of Municipal Councils and Local Boards Central Range and ors.
Excerpt:
- .....ayyangar, j.1. the revenue village of c. mutlur was declared 'a village' under the madras village panchayats act, 1950 (x of 1950) and a panchayat board was constituted for carrying on the local administration of that village. this revenue village really consisted of more than one part namely the main village of c. mutlur and a hamlet nearby by name theethampalayam. the village and the hamlet are separated by the river vellar which passes through the revenue village.2. the regional inspector of municipal councils and local boards, chingleput, published two notifications on 8th october, 1955, for effecting the separation of the hamlet from 'the revenue village' and for constituting the former as a separate area to be administered by a separate panchayat board. the legality of.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Rajagopala Ayyangar, J.

1. The revenue village of C. Mutlur was declared 'a village' under the Madras Village Panchayats Act, 1950 (X of 1950) and a panchayat board was constituted for carrying on the local administration of that village. This revenue village really consisted of more than one part namely the main village of C. Mutlur and a hamlet nearby by name Theethampalayam. The village and the hamlet are separated by the river Vellar which passes through the revenue village.

2. The Regional Inspector of Municipal Councils and Local Boards, Chingleput, published two notifications on 8th October, 1955, for effecting the separation of the hamlet from 'the revenue village' and for constituting the former as a separate area to be administered by a separate Panchayat Board. The legality of this action on the part of the officer is challenged in this petition by the Panchayat Board of C. Mutlur. The two notifications whose validity is impugned, both, dated 8th October, 1955, are in these terms.

In exercise of the powers delegated to him by the Inspector of Municipal Councils and Local Boards, Madras, under Section 127(2) of the Madras Village Panchayats Act, 1950, the Regional Inspector of Municipal Councils and Local Boards, Central Range, Chingleput, hereby notifies under Section 2(22) of the said Act that Theethampalayam hamlet of C. Mutlur revenue village comprising Section Nos. 1 to 107 and 160 to 171 in Chidambaram Taluk, South Arcot District, be deemed to be a village for the purposes of the Madras Village Panchayats Act and that the village shall be known as Theethampalayam.

3. The relevant portion of the second notification is contained in paragraph 1 which is in these terms:

In the exercise of the powers delegated to him by the Inspector of Municipal Councils and Local Boards, Madras, under Section 127(2) of the Madras Village Panchayats Act, the Regional Inspector of Municipal Councils and Local Boards, Central Range, Chingleput, proposes to exclude under Section 3(2) of the Madras Village Panchayats Act, 1950. Theethampalayam village comprising Section Nos. 1 to 107 and 160 to 171 of C. Mutlur revenue village from the jurisdiction of the existing C. Mutlur Panchayat in Chidambaram taluk, South Arcot District, and to constitute a separate panchayat for Theethampalayam under Section 3(2)(A) read with Section 3(1)(i) of the said Act. Under Section 3(2)(c) of the Act, the C. Mutlur Panchayat is hereby called upon to show cause as to why the above proposal should not be given effect to.

4. The grounds urged by learned Counsel for the petitioner disputing the legality of these notifications were two. (1) The Inspector of Local Boards from whom the Regional Inspector claimed to derive the power to issue these notifications had himself no authority under the provisions of the Madras Village Panchayats Act, 1950, to effect this bifurcation of the revenue village of C. Mutlur, so as to constitute the hamlet of Theethampalayam into a separate village panchayat. (2) Even assuming that the Inspector had this power, the terms of Section 127(2) of the Act did not enable this power to be delegated to the Regional Inspector.

5. The first question for consideration therefore is whether the Inspector of Local Boards had a power to separate the hamlet of Theethampalayam from the village of C. Mutlur. Section enacts:

4 (1) A panchayat shall be constituted for each village with effect from a date specified in that behalf in the notification issued under Section 3, Sub-section (1).

The expression 'village' is defined in Section 2(25) to mean 'any loal area which is declared to be a village under this Act'. Section 3(1) which is referred to in Section 4, vests power in the Inspector of Local Boards by notification under Section 3(1)(i) 'to declare every revenue village with a population of not less than five hundred to be a village for the purpose of this Act and specifiy the name of such village'. This is in regard to the original constitution of village panchayats. The power to effect changes in the areas of villages is contained in Section 3(2)(a) which enacts:

3 (2)(a) : The Inspector may, by notification, exclude from a village any revenue village-comprised therein, provided that the population of the village, after such exclusion, is not less than five hundred.

(b) In regard to any village so excluded, the Inspector shall take action under Sub-section (1) according as it has a population of not less than five hundred or of less than five hundred, as the case-may be.

(c) Before issuing a notification under Clause (a) or under Clause (b) read with Sub-section (1) the Inspector shall give the panchayat or panchayats which will be affected by the issue of such notification a reasonable opportunity for showing cause against the proposal and shall consider the explanation and objections, if any, of such panchayat or panchayats.

6. It may be mentioned in passing that it is this notice which was given to the Panchayat of C. Mutlur before the notifications now impugned were passed. It would be seen that these sections use the expressions 'revenue village'. This is defined by the Act in Section 2(22) to mean

any local area which is recognised as a village in the revenue accounts of Government after excluding therefrom the areas, if any, included in (a) the City of Madras...and includes a hamlet in existence at the commencement of this Act and notified by the Inspector to be a revenue village for the purposes of this Act.

7. When the definition of the 'revenue' village which I have extracted is read in conjunction with the powers conferred on the Inspector of Local Boards by Section 3(2), it would appear that there is no basis for the argument which denies to the Inspector the power to effect the separation of Theethampalayam hamlet from the main village of G. Mutlur. C. Multur was 'a revenue village' and when it was notified under the terms of Section 3(1), it became 'a village' for the purposes of the Village Panchayats Act. The Inspector of Local Boards had the power under Section 3(2) to exclude from 'a village', that is, from C. Mutlur any 'revenue village' comprised therein. The expression 'revenue village' occurring here has to be understood in the sense defined by Section 2(22). If the hamlet of Theethampalayam constituted a revenue village, as thus defined, the Inspector had the power to issue the notification. There cannot be any doubt either that Theethampalayam would, if notified by the Inspector be 'a revenue village' because it was a hamlet in existence at the commencement of the Act, which is the only requirement under Section 2(22). At one stage of his argument learned Counsel urged that Theethampalayam was not a hamlet at all and that therefore it could not be constituted as 'a revenue village' by notification of the Inspector under Section 2(22) of the Act. This contention is, however, without force. In the counter-affidavit filed to this petition, it was specifically stated that Theethampalayam was hamlet and in the supplemental affidavit which the petitioner filed the said Theethampalayam is only a hamlet of C. Mutlur village and it is not by itself 'a revenue village'. This, therefore, was not a matter in regard to which there was any controversy which required investigation or decision in this petition. I, therefore, hold that the power to effect the separation of Theethampalayam from the village of C. Mutlur and constitute the hamlet into a 'a revenue village' and 'a village' for the purposes of this Act was vested in the Inspector.

8. The next point is as to whether the power of the Inspector to effect this separation could be delegated to the Regional Inspector of Local Boards, an Officer subordinate to the Inspector. Section 127(2) enacts:

127 (2) : The Inspector or the Collector may, by notification, authorise any officer or person to exercise in any local area in the State or the revenue district, as the case may be, in regard to any panchayat, or any class of panchayats or all panchayats in that area, any of the powers vested by this Act in the Inspector or the Collector, as the case may be; and may in like manner withdraw such authority.

Two grounds were urged by the learned Counsel on this part of the case. The first was that the powers which could be delegated by the Inspector were those in relation to 'a panchayat or any class of Panchayats' and that 'panchayat' meant under the Act not the area over which the Panchayat Board exercised jurisdiction, but only the Board which was constituted to administer the affairs of the area. In this connection learned Counsel laid considerable stress on the definition of 'panchayat' in Section 2(16) as meaning 'the body constituted for the local administration of a village under this Act,' and the main terms of Section 4 which I have extracted earlier directing the constitution of 'a panchayat' for each 'village.' Learned Counsel submitted that when Section 127(2) referred to the exercise of power vested by this Act in the Inspector in regard to 'panchayat or classes of panchayats' it merely meant a right to exercise control and supervision over the Panchayat Board. Learned Counsel drew my attention to the provisions contained in sections 42 to 49 which vested in the Inspector power of control and supervision over these panchayats and submitted that these were the only sort of power which fell within the terms of Section 127(2), as being delegatable to the subordinate officers I feel unable to accept this construction. The terms of section. 127(2) are wide and I am unable to read into the provision a limitation which excludes the territorial ambit within which the powers of the Panchayat Board were to be exercised. I am unable draw any sensible distinction between the area over which a panchayat exercised its powers and the nature of the powers which it exercised over that area. In my judgment both are equally comprehended by the expression 'powers in regard to any panchayat' within Section 127(2).

9. The second point urged by learned Counsel was on the term of Section 127(2) that the power was capable of being delegated not merely to 'any officer' but also to 'any person' and if the terms of the section provided for delegation even to persons who were not officers, the power conferred was so arbitrary as would amount either to excessive delegation, or be a violation of Article 14, of the Constitution. I do not consider that Section 127(2) could be invalidated on the grounds suggested. If in any particular case the Inspector of Local Boards delegated his power to a person or authority who could not be within the contemplation of the enactment, that particular act of delegation might be avoided in that instance for the reason that it was not within the power conferred by the section. But this is no ground however for holding a delgation which in itself is to an officer of the department bad on the ground that the power of delegation is capable of abuse. I have no hesitation in rejecting this ground of attack on the validity of Section 127(2).

10. The result is that the petition fails and is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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