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P. Duraiswamy Naicker, President Vs. the Government of Tamil Nadu, Represented by Its Secretary to Rural Development and Local Administration Department and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1972)2MLJ205
AppellantP. Duraiswamy Naicker, President
RespondentThe Government of Tamil Nadu, Represented by Its Secretary to Rural Development and Local Administra
Excerpt:
- .....was elected president of the ammur town panchayat which is a unit of the wallajah panchayat union council. the council was duly constituted in accordance with law and it began to function after electing or co-opting such of those women members whom the council has to co-opt under the proviso to section 12(1) of the madras panchayats act, 1958 (hereinafter referred to as the act). the result was that the panchayat union council duly constituted itself for the purpose of administration and functioning as provided under the act and were carrying on their statutory duties. on 4th november, 1971 a notification was issued by the state government in exercise of their powers under sub-section (1) of section 155 whereunder the union council was dissolved with effect from 4th november,.....
Judgment:
ORDER

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. In this writ petition the petitioner was elected President of the Ammur Town Panchayat which is a unit of the Wallajah Panchayat Union Council. The Council was duly constituted in accordance with law and it began to function after electing or co-opting such of those women members whom the Council has to co-opt under the proviso to Section 12(1) of the Madras Panchayats Act, 1958 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The result was that the Panchayat Union Council duly constituted itself for the purpose of administration and functioning as provided under the Act and were carrying on their statutory duties. On 4th November, 1971 a notification was issued by the State Government in exercise of their powers under Sub-section (1) of Section 155 whereunder the Union Council was dissolved with effect from 4th November, 1971. It is not necessary to set out the grounds which prompted the State Government to act under Section 155(1). In the very same notification a further direction was given that the said Panchayat Union Council be reconstituted with effect on and from 4th February, 1972. It is common ground that as between the dates 4th November, 1971 and 4th February, 1972 the administration of the Panchayat was in the hands of a competent authority duly appointed for the purpose under Section 155(4) of the Act. The Revenue Divisional Officer, Ranipet on 15th February, 1972 issued a notice stating that a special meeting for the election of (he Wallajah Panchayat Union Council Chairman will be held on 25th February, 1972 and all the members of the Council were requested to attend the same. The agenda proclaimed that there were two subjects which Were to be considered at the aforesaid meeting. The first one is for the members to take oath of their office on reconstitution 'and secondly receiving of nominations for the election of the Union Council Chairman. On receipt of this notice, the petitioner has come up to this Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Revenue Divisional Officer, Ranipet (second respondent) not to permit respondents 3 to 7 to the petition to participate in the election of the Chairman for the Wallajah Panchayat Union Council to be held on 25th February, 1972. It is also common ground that respondents 3 to 7 are women members or members of the scheduled caste who were co-opted by the Panchayat Union Council under (he proviso to Section 12(1) of the Act at the very inception of the formation or constitution of the Council. The argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner who still claimed to be a member of the Union Council by virtue of his office as President of the Ammur Town Panchayat is that as the co-option of women or scheduled caste member was made by the Council on its initiative and at its discretion, such members who were co-opted by reason of an overt act on the part of the President of the Panchayats in the Panchayat Union and other members who truly constituted the council, cannot claim the status of members after dissolution of such Council under Section 155(1). The further argument is that once such co-opted members have Vacated or are deemed to have Vacated their offices, then a fresh election or a fresh induction of such members would be made by the reconstituted Council which according to the petitioner is a body different from that which was in existence on the date of dissolution. The question, therefore, is What is the effect of dissolution of a Panchayat Union Council within the meaning of Section 155 of the Act.

2. Section 2(24) of the Act defines a Panchayat Union Council as meaning the body constituted for the administration, of a Panchayat Union under the Act. Section 2(17) says that a member of a. panchayat or a panchayat union council, as the case may be, means such member and includes a co-opted member. Section 12 deals with the composition and strength of a panchayat union council. Section 12(1)(1) provides that the Union Council shall consist of the-presidents of all panchayat in the panchayat union and one. non-official member of each township committee in the panchayat union chosen in the prescribed manner. The proviso is enabling and it authorises the council to choose women members or members of the scheduled castes, if among the members-of the panchayat council, as enumerated', in Section 12(1)(1) and (ii) there are no women or members of the scheduled castes. One other alternative is also-provided for the co-option of such women, members and that is the case where the number, whether of women or of the members of the scheduled castes, is less than three, the panchayat union council may co-opt such number of women or members of the scheduled castes as may be necessary to ensure that the council includes three women and three members of the scheduled castes. The Legislature, therefore, intends that at all material times the Panrhayat Union Council shall include three women and three members of the scheduled castes and the word 'ensure' has the force of a mandate, though the verb 'may' used earlier in the proviso might connote a discretion to the council to co-opt such, number of women or members of the scheduled castes or tribes. This is only an incidental observation. A Panchayat Union Council which is thus constituted under Section 12(1) shall function in accordance with the other provisions of the Act and it has its own seal for purposes of administration. It is not in dispute that the Wallajah Panchayat Union Council was so constituted in accordance with Section 12(1)' and the proviso thereto and that respondents 3 to 7 were inducted into the Council by co-option and as provided in the above Sub-section. When the Council was so functioning, the Government was of the view that the Council was making default in performing the duties imposed on it by law and it is in this perspective that the notification dated 4th November, 1971 was issued.

3. As a matter of fact it is stated that the Council did not transact any business since its formation on the 2nd of August, 1970 excepting election of chairman, vice-chairman and co-option of members and that there Were * very many other serious laches which enabled the Government to act under Section 155. That there was material before the Government to act under Section 155 is not seriously disputed. In and by the notification dated 4th November, 1971, the Panchayat Union Council was dissolved. Under Sub-section (3) of Section 155, on and from the date fixed for the dissolution of a panchayat union council under Sub-section (1) all its members as well as its chairman and vice-chairman shall forthwith be deemed to have vacated their offices as such. Under Sub-section (5) of Section 155 the members of a reconstituted panchayat union shall enter upon their offices on the date fixed for its reconstitution and their term of office shall expire in such year and on such date as the Government may fix. Reading both these Sub-sections in juxtaposition one with the other and harmoniously interpreting the similar expressions appearing in both the Sub-sections, it appears to me that the problem with which we are confronted is easy of solution.

4. In the notification dated 4th November, 1971 the direction was that the Wallajah Panchayat Union Council be dissolved With effect on and from the 4th November, 1971, and it further directed that the said Panchayat Union Council be reconstituted with effect from 4th February, 1972. The identity of the Council which was dissolved and that of the Panchayat Union Council to be. reconstituted, both under the notification; dated 4th November, 1971, is maintained and that is rightly so, because all the members who fictionally Vacated their offices by reason of the dissolution shall reenter upon their offices on the date fixed; for its reconstitution. The argument of Mr. Martin, however, is that the word 'members' in Sub-section (3) of Section 155 undoubtedly has a wider connotation; but the same word 'numbers' appearing in Sub-section (5) has a truncated meaning. He would say that, whilst the former word takes into its fold all the members including co-opted members constituting the strength of the council, the word 'members' in Sub-section (5) would be referable only to the members as enumerated in Section 12(1)(1) and (ii). I am unable to accept his contention because the fundamental principle of interpretation of statutes is to understand and implement the same words in the same Section in the same Way and in the same manner. The word 'members' in Sub-section (3) cannot be interpreted differently from the word 'members'; appearing in Sub-section (5). It is in this view that I said that the notification also maintained the identity of the two bodies, namely, the one which was dissolved due to the notification and the one that is to be reconstituted due to the very same notification. If, therefore, the two bodies are identical then there is little difficulty in holding that the co-opted members, namely respondents 3 to 7, they having Vacated their offices, by Virtue of the statutory fiction under Section 155(3), are entitled as of right and by virtue of the provisions of the statute to enter upon their offices on reconstitution; on the fixed date for the purpose.

5. The petitioner, therefore, cannot complain against the action of the Revenue Divisional Officer who called for the special meeting for the election of the Chairman etc. is his notice which is challenged in this writ petition. There is no public duty cast on the Revenue Divisional Officer, Ranipet (second respondent) to forbear from holding a meeting for the purpose and issuing notices of the meeting to the co-opted members. Now that during the pendency of this writ petition, the date fixed for the election has lapsed, the second respondent is at liberty to hold fresh elections for the same purpose after notifying the members concerned and after following the prescribed procedure as expeditiously as possible.

6. To some extent, the view of mine gains support from the decision of Kailasam, J., in Ramanathan V. The Revenue Divisional Officer, Namakkal and Anr. W.P. Nos. 1426 and 1427 of 1967, dated 23rd October 1968.

The writ petition is dismissed. No costs.


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