LAXMANBHAI BHAGWANBHAI SUKHADIA Vs. KUNKAVAV VADIA TALUKA PANCHAYAT
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
LAXMANBHAI BHAGWANBHAI SUKHADIA
KUNKAVAV VAIDA TALUKA PANCHAYAT
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(1.) The petitioner was elected a member of the Village Panchayat of Moti Kunkavav of Vadia Taluka of Amreli District (hereinafter referred to as the Gram Panchayat) in the year 1960. In a meeting held on the 30th of June 1960 the petitioner was duly elected as Sarpanch. Sec. 14 of the Gujarat Panchayats Act 1961 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) provides the constitution of the Taluka Panchayat. It consists of four categories of members (A Ex-Officio members and these ex-officio members are (i) the Sarpanchas of all the Gram Panchayats within the taluka and (ii) The Chairmen of all the Nagar Panchayats within the taluka; (B) Elected members; (C) Co-opted members; (D) Associate members. We do not deem it necessary to enter into the details of the last three categories of the members of the Taluka Panchayat. Under this constitution when the petitioner was elected the Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat be became an ex-officio member of the Vadia Taluka Panchayat. On the 20 of March 1963 the first meeting of the Taluka Panchayat was held to elect its President and the petitioner was duly elected as President and he assumed office thereof on that day. Sub-sec. (3) of sec. 14 provides that a Sarpanch of a Gram Panchayat if elected as the President of the Taluka Panchayat of which be is an ex-officio member shall cease to hold the office of Sarpanch but shall continue to be an ex-officio member of the Taluka Panchayat. Sec. 57 of the Act lays down that save as otherwise provided in the Act the term of office of members President and Vice-President of a Taluka Panchayat shall be coextensive with the term of the Panchayat. Sec. 17 of the Act provides that the term of the Panchayat as constituted at its first meeting shall save as otherwise provided under the Act be four years from the date of such meeting. Thus the petitioner claims that his term of office as President of the Taluka Panchayat continues under law upto the 20th of March 1967. However on the 27th of January 1964 respondent No. 2 the Taluka Development Officer under Instructions of respondent No. 3 the District Development Officer addressed to him a letter to the effect that the petitioner had come in the Taluka Panchayat because of his office as Sarpanch of Kunkavav Gram Panchayat and thereafter he had been elected as the President of the Taluka Panchayat. Now that the term of Kunkavav Gram Panchayat was expiring on the 30 of June 1964 and as the term of his office as Sarpanch of that Gram Panchayat would also come to an end his term as the President of the Taluka Panchayat would automatically expire on that day and as such the office of the President has to be treated as falling vacant and by this letter he was informed in advance about the vacancy in the said office. He was also informed that he will have to vacate the office as the President of the Taluka Panchayat from that day and the Vice-President will take over the daily functions of the President from that day till the next election and the charge of his office will remain with the Vice-President. The petitioner was thus made to leave the charge of his office as the President of the Taluka Panchayat on the 30th of June 1964. The petitioner now complains that this was enforced on him illegally. On the 1st of July 1964 fresh elections were held for the Gram Panchayat. The petitioner was elected a member and also as the Sarpanch. On the 24th of July 1964 a notice was given to all the members that a meeting will be held on the 7 of August 1964 for electing the President of the Taluka Panchayat. In the said meeting respondent No. 4 was duly elected as the President of the Taluka Panchayat. It is an admitted position that the petitioner had also contested for the Presidentship of the Taluka Panchayat but he lost. On the 2nd of September 1964 the term of the Tori Gram Panchayat expired. It may be noticed that respondent No. 4 had come to the Taluka Panchayat as the Sarpanch of the Tori Gram Panchayat. Therefore following the same procedure as in the case of the petitioner he left charge as the President of the Taluka Panchayat on the 30th of September 1964 In that election also respondent No. 4 was elected the President of the Taluka Panchayat. It appears the petitioner did not remain present in that meeting. We may as well note that on the 10th of December 1964 the election of the District Panchayat was held. Now under the constitution of the District Panchayat the Presidents of the Taluka Panchayats become its ex-officio members but over and above that the Taluka Panchayats have to send one elected member and the petitioner was so elected as a member to the District Panchayat and as stated above respondent No. 4 became the ex-officio member being the President of the Taluka Panchayat. The petition was filed on the 31st of December 1964.
(2.) It is the petitioners case that once that he was elected the President of the Taluka Panchayat and he was legally and validly elected be so under sec. 57 he did not cease to hold office until his successor was legally and validly elected. Until there was a successor who was elected as the President in accordance with law he continued to hold the office as President under sub-sec. (2) of sec. 57 of the Act. He therefore. claims that inspite of what has happened he continues to be the President of the Taluka Panchayat and the two elections held whereby respondent No. 4 was elected President are not validly held elections and therefore. respondent No. 4 was not holding his office legally and validly. He has. therefore prayed for a writ in the nature of quo warranto for directions setting aside the aforeasaid elections of respondent No. 4 as President of the Kunkavav Vadia Taluka Panchayat and declaring the said elections of respondent No. 4 invalid and also for appropriate writ or order of direction declaring that the petitioner is the President of the Taluka Panchayat and his term of office could expire only on the 20th day of March 1967.
(3.) Respondent No. 1 is the Kunkavav Vadia Taluka Panchayat and respondent No. 2 is the Taluka Development Officer. They have been duly served but no appearance has been filed before us on-their behalf. Respondent No. 3 is the District Development Officer and Mr. B. R. Sompura the learned Assistant Government Pleader has appeared _or him. Mr. K. G. Vakharia the learned advocate has appeared for respondent No. 4.;
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