KODAMBAKKAN PANCHAYAT REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT Vs. THE INSPECTOR OF PANCHAYATS AND ANR.
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
Kodambakkan Panchayat Represented By Its President
The Inspector Of Panchayats And Anr.
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Tayi Ramaprasada Rao, J. -
(1.) The sitting president of the Kodambakkam panchayat is the petitioner. As per the last census, the population of the village was reckoned at 1001 amongst whom about 900 persons were qualified to vote. As per the rules, the number of members to be elected to the panchayat are 8, besides one woman member to be co -opted. As matters stand, the panchayat is divided into two blocks and there are 4 members representing each block. Within the boundaries of the revenue village included in the panchayat, there is an eri pomomboke or P.W.D. tank of an area of 128.78 acres, and it is common ground that this is within the limits of the Kodambakkam. village panchayat. Portions of this eri poramboke have been alienated to the Madras Corporation and the Tamil Nadu State Housing Board; but it is claimed that the alienation of the said land to such -public bodies does not constitute exclusion of the area from the jurisdiction of the panchayat. Though it does not vest in the panchayat the Government's claim is that this is inside the jurisdiction of the panchayat. As the ownership of the land is not the criterion to decide whether an individual should be included in the panchayat electoral roll or not and as residence within the jurisdiction of the panchayat alone, besides the age of the voter, are the primary considerations for purposes of inclusion of such residents of the prescribed age in the electoral rolls of the panchayat, the occupants or residents in such eri poramboke were included in the electoral rolls prepared recently under Sec. 20 of the Madras Panchayats Act, 1958. It is also claimed by the Government that though such occupants are encroachers, they had to be enumerated and included in the electoral rolls for the Kodambakkam panchayat, and as a matter of fact, their names find a place in the Assembly rolls prepared in 1970 for the St. Thomas Mount Assembly Constituency Rolls. The Government is emphatic that the encroachers, who are actual residents of the disused tank, are to be given the right to vote and even the right to contest the panchayat elections; the apprehension that they are likely to move away from the area is no criterion to exclude them from the electoral roll by denying them the right to stand and contest the elections in the panchayat area. It is stated that every person who resides within the jurisdiction of the panchayat at the time of the preparation of the rolls under Sec. 2C of the Act and who is 21 years of age and more as on 1st January, 1970, is entitled to be enrolled as a voter. It is also clearly stated in paragraph 5 of the counter -affidavit that as the Election Commission of India did not agree to the revision of the Assembly rolls for the conduct of elections to local bodies and as it suggested amendments to local Acts, the Panchayats Act was specifically amended to meet the situation. It is said that according to the old provision "a person enrolled in the Assembly rolls only will be a voter for the panchayat". According to the amended provision "a person entitled to be enrolled as a voter in the Assembly rolls is to be enrolled as a voter for the panchayat." It is in this background that the electoral roll for the Kodambakkam panchayat was prepared. As already stated, the population as reckoned in the last census was about 1001 and the voters list as prepared in the context as above discloses a residential strength of 6417 for the panchayat in question. If, therefore, the enumerated population for purposes of Sec. 20 of the Act is termed as the statutory population, then it follows that as per the last census the population was 1001 and as per the Act the statutory population was 6,417.
(2.) In the above context the petitioner's case is that the inclusion of the names of the encroachers in the electoral rolls is invalid, and, even if they could be treated as residents of the panchayat, the 1st respondent has failed to increase the number of members of the panchayat for being returned thereto, notwithstanding the reckoning of the statutory population at 6,417. This argument is based upon one of the rules framed under the Madras Panchayats Act, 1958, which enjoins upon the appropriate authority to fix the number of members to be returned to the panchayat, according to the population of the panchayat.
(3.) Another argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that the 1st respondent has issued a notification on on 12th March, 1970, whereunder he proposes to divide the panchayat into 3 electoral wards and several blocks attached thereto and such a trifurcation of the panchayat not having been done after consulting the panchayat, the impugned notification has to be struck down.;
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