THE RISHIYUR PANCHAYAT REPRESENTED BY THE PRESIDENT Vs. THE REVENUE DIVISIONAL OFFICER AND ORS.
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
Rishiyur Panchayat represented by the President
REVENUE DIVISIONAL OFFICER AND ORS
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(1.) The petitioner as the President of the Rishiyur Panchayat in the Tanjore District has come up to this Court for the issue ol a writ of certiorari to quash the proceedings of the Collector of Tanjore, dated 21st May, 1966. The facts are as. Follows:
(2.) There are nine tanks within the panchayat area and according to the petitioner these tanks being public sources of water supply became vested in the panchayat under Section 84(1) of the Madras Panchayats Act, 1958. The Revenue Divisional Officer, Mannargudi, in fact, passed an order, dated 31stJDecember, 1963 that the aforesaid tanks did vest in the panchayat within the meaning of Section 84(1) of the Act. After such a declaration was made, the third respondent claiming to be a trustee of the local temple and claiming that the temple had certain immemorial rights attached to and inhered in the said tanks, filed what he termed as an appeal or a revision to the Collector of Tanjore who, after due enquiry and after perusing the documents placed before him was of the view that there was no oral or documentary evidence to sustain the case of the third respondent that the tanks were subject to any customary rights of any of the villagers or in particular the temple in the village. A few days thereafter on 7th May, 1966, a review petition is said to have been filed before the Collector and curiously enough the Collector after taking a written statement from the president of the panchayat, which apparently was given by him in his personal capacity, passed an order revising his earlier order, dated 28th April, 1966, under which he rejected the representation of th third respondent and held that the fishery rights of the tanks in R.S. No. 63/1 and 122/1 of Rishiyur village with which we are concerned, be allowed to be enjoyed by the trustee of Shri Kailasanathar Temple of the said village subject to certain conditions imposed by him. It is this order which is impugned in this writ petition by the Rishiyur Panchayat itself.
(3.) It is the case of the panchayat that the Collector had no jurisdiction to review on 21st May, 1966, its order passed a few days before on 28th April, 1966. What prompted the Collector to do so is not clear. But the record shows that on 23th April, 1966, the Collector was satisfied that there was no oral or documentary evidence to sustain the case of the pre-existing fishery rights in the tanks in question in the third respondent as trustee of the temple in the village. Within a few weeks thereafter this order is set aside and such a customary right is recognised on the strength of a voluntary statement made by president of the panchayat in his personal capacity. No doubt, power is vested in the Government under Section 84(2), of the Act to define or limit the control and administration of such public source of water-supply after consulting the panchayat and giving due regard to its objections, if any. The learned Government Pleader points out that the Collector is the authority to whom the power has been delegated by the Government to exercise the functions notified in Section 84(2) and the Collector therefore has the power to define or limit the quality and quantity of such control over public sources of water-supply. Therefore, he had the power to pass the impugned order. But the question is whether he has followed the statutory procedure prescribed in Section 84(2). It is incumbint upon the Collector, before, notifying, defining or limiting the control or administration of any public source of water-supply, to consult the panchayat and give due regard to their objections. It is not in dispute that no such notice was given to the panchayat as such. A statement given by the president of the panchayat on his own volition describing himself as the President of the panchayat is not equatable to a statement made by the Panchayat itself. A panchayat is a statutory body which has a regular seal of succession under the Act and functions as such and if service has to be effected on the panchayat by the Government or its delegate, such service must be effected in a manner known to law. No such attempt has been made in this case. It is not even claimed that the panchayat was called upon to state its objections. Thus, the prescripiou in Section 84(2) of the Act has not been followed. There is, therefore, an error apparent in the order impugned. Kailasam, J., in Melalanendacheri Panchayat by its President v. The Revenue Divisional Officer, Mannargudi, Thanjavur District and Ors. W.P. No. of 1966 held the view that in enquiries under Section 84 the Panchayat is an interested party and notice ought to have been given to it. I am, therefore, satisfied that as no notice to the Panchayat and no consultation was made or its objections heard, the order has to be quashed. The rule nist is made absolute. The writ petition is allowed. No costs. It is open to the Government to take such action as is available to them in law under Section 84(2).;
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