1. In this petition under Articles 132 and 133 of the Constitution, I am requested to certify that this is a fit case for appeal to the Supreme Court. The petitioners had applied to this Court under Article 226 for issue of a writ against the State of Himachal Pradesh and the Administrator, Municipal Committee, Nahan, directing respondent No. 1 to withdraw an order under Section 238 of the Punjab Municipal Act, as applied to Himachal Pradesh, superseding the Nahan Municipal Committee and appointing respondent No. 2 as Administrator thereof. For reasons stated in this Court's order dated 2-9-1955, since reported in--'R.L. Gupta v. State of Himachal Pradesh', 1955 Him-P 7 (A), that petition was rejected.
In doing so, I had remarked that while a member could not be removed from the Committee without notice and the communication of the reasons for his proposed removal as well as the grant of an opportunity to tender his explanatioa (vide Section 16, of the Punjab Municipal Act, which has been applied to Himachal Pradesh), a similar procedure had not been laid down by the Act, where the entire Committee is superseded under Section 233 of the Act.
I had further pointed out that the bone of contention between the parties was whether the Committee had or had not persistently made default in the performance of its duties and similarly whether it had or had not abused its powers. Following an earlier ruling of this Court, reported in--'Ramesh Chandra v. State of Himachal Pradesh', 1955 Him-P 11 (AIR V 42) (B), I had pointed out that the matter at issue could not be disposed of summarily in a writ petition, since no finding could be arrived at without recording the evidence of the parties.
2. Learned counsel for the petitioners urged that the principles of natural justice required that before the Committee was superseded on the grounds mentioned above, the members thereof should have been given an opportunity of answering the charges levelled against them.
In this connection, he urged that the supersession of a Committee was a more drastic step than the removal of an individual member. This may be so. It may be desirable that before a Committee is superseded, it should be given an opportunity of clearing its position.
The Act, as it stands, however, while making it, obligatory for the Government to give prior notice to a member before removing him has not made a similar provision in the case of the supersession of the entire Committee. This may be a lacuna in the law, which, obviously, can be remedied only by the Legislature. The Court has to administer the law as it stands and not on the basis of what it considers it should be.
3. Learned counsel cited an earlier decision Of this Court reported in--'State of Himachal Pradesh v Chamba Valley Transport Ltd.', 1953 Him-P 77 (AIR V 40) (C), wherein my learned predecessor, following--'Subba Rao v. Veeraju', 1951] Mad 969 (AIR V 38) (D), granted a certificate under Article 132(1) of the Constitution. .
There, the question arose whether the provisions of Article 19 of the Constitution were retrospective in their application. Therefore, my learned predecessor rightly remarked that this involved a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.
In the present case, however, no such question arises. Learned counsel based his argument mainly on what he called 'principles of natural justice'. In my opinion, however, it is not possible to go beyond the scope of the Statute by having recourse to notions of principles of natural justice. In--'Subba Rao v. Noony', 1951 Mad 969 (AIR V 38) (D), a Full Bench of that High Court held that:
'Any question of law affecting the rights of parties substantially would not by' itself be a substantial question of law. An important or difficult question would, of course, be a substantial question; but even if a question is not important or difficult, if there is room for reasonable doubt or difference of opinion on the question, then it would be a substantial question of law within the meaning of Article 133 of the Constitution of India.
A substantial question of law need not be a question of general importance. It is sufficient if it arises between the parties. This, however, does not mean that every question of law, as between the parties, is a substantial question of law.'
In the present case, as already remarked, the Punjab Municipal Act does not provide for issue ofnotice to the Committee and recording its explanation before superseding it. Consequently, the orderof supersession under Section 238 of the Punjab Municipal Act cannot summarily be vacated on that score.As regards the merits of the dispute, obviously,they could be gone into only in a regular suit afterrecording the evidence of the parties. Learnedcounsel suggested that a regular suit would meanconsiderable expenditure of money and time. Thismay be so but that circumstance alone would notentitle the present petition to succeed. Consequently, I reject the petition.