K.C. KURUVILLA S/O CHANDY KUZHIMALAYIL Vs. RUBY DISILVA
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
K.C. Kuruvilla S/O Chandy Kuzhimalayil
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K.P.JYOTHINDRANATH, J. -
(1.) This revision petition is filed by the accused in S.T. No. 663/1997 on the file of the Court of Judicial First Class Magistrate, Vaikom. He was prosecuted under Section 210 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act read with Kerala Panchayat (Taxation and Appeal) Rules. He was convicted and sentenced to pay arrears of Rs. 3,14,111/- and warrant fee of Rs. 5/- and also to pay a fine of Rs. 5,000/- and in default of payment of fine to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of three months. He challenged the judgment of conviction and direction of the Magistrate before the Sessions Court, which was also not successful.
(2.) The facts necessary for consideration of this revision petition is as follows:
The right to collect and remove sand from two areas commencing from Mannukuzhi part to Thimili bridge in Moovattupuzha river which flows through Velloor Grama Panchayat for the financial year 1996-97 (from 20/09/1996 to 31/03/1997) was auctioned and the right was given to the revision petitioner herein for the rate of Rs. 1,26,000/- and for Rs. 3,81,000/- as per Exts.P1 and P2. The petitioner herein defaulted payment and a sum of Rs. 3,40,111/- fell due. A demand notice was issued. But the revision petitioner failed to remit the same and thereafter distraint warrant was issued to recover the arrears. That was also not successful. Thereon, the revision petitioner herein was prosecuted by filing a complaint under Section 210 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act. The prosecution altogether examined two witnesses and Exts.P1 to P6 marked. After appreciating the evidence, the accused was directed to pay the amounts as referred above. The appeal filed was also not successful.
(3.) When the revision petition came up for hearing, the learned counsel for the revision petitioner Sri. Augustine M.A. vehemently argued before this court that here is a case where the courts below erred in passing the judgment of conviction. The appreciation of evidence by the courts below is also correct. It is also submitted that as per the dictum laid down by this Court in Govindankutty C.B. v. State of Kerala and others (2016 (4) KHC 555) , it can be seen that contractual obligation or violation of the contract will be coming under the purview of Section 210 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act. The essence of the submission is that when there is a contract in between a party and the Panchayat and when there is a violation and further when the liability has to be quantified, then the Panchayat will be entitled to prosecute the defaulter under Section 210 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act. In Govindankutty's case (supra), the court considered a similar question wherein Panchayat gave the right to conduct ferry service between Chittoor and Mulampally. In respect of the same, there was an agreement with the petitioner therein and the concerned Panchayat similar to Exts.P1 and P2, in this case. In that case also there was default in the payment of the amount due, to the Panchayat. As in this case, when there was amount due, the Panchayat cancelled the right and re-auctioned the right. Thus evaluating the facts in that case, the court came to a conclusion that the question to be considered is whether the claim for un-liquidated damages or loss arising out of breach of contract between the Panchayat and the person can be recovered by the Panchayat without adjudication, invoking revenue recovery proceedings under Section 210 of the Panchayat Raj Act or Rules framed by the Government as per SRO 319/1962.;
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