DISTRICT PANCHAYAT OFFICER CHITTOOR Vs. V GURUSWAMY CHETTY
LAWS(APH)-1971-7-21
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Decided on July 05,1971

DISTRICT PANCHAYAT OFFICER, CHITTOOR, ON BEHALF OF ITS ITBEPALLI PANCHAYAT Appellant
VERSUS
V.GURUSWAMY CHETTY Respondents

JUDGEMENT

- (1.) This revision petition is directed against the Judgment and decree in S.C. No. 49 of 1968 on the file of the Principal District Munsif, Tirupathi dismissing a suit for recovery of the amounts due from the defendant, an Ex. President of I thepalli Gram Panchayat as per the surcharge certificate issued by the auditor in accordance with G.O. Ms. 569, Panchayat Raj VIII, dated 13th May, 1965. The suit was dismissed on two grounds; firstly, that the District Panchayat Officer had no jurisdiction to represent the Ithepalli Gram Panchayat or its Executive Authority and institute the suit; and secondly, that the suit claim was barred by limitation.
(2.) It is argued by the learned Government Pleader that so far as the first point is concerned, in C.R.P. No. 871 of 1970, dated 25th September, 1970, this Court held that the District Panchayat Officer is competent to file the suit on behalf of the Panchayat. As regards the second ground for dismissal, it is argued that the suit was instituted within three years from the date of the grant of the surcharge certificate and therefore, the claim is not barred by limitation.
(3.) So far as the first point is concerned, viz., whether the District Panchayat Officer is competent to file a suit for the recovery of the amounts on the basis of the surcharge certificate issued by the auditor under G.O.Ms. No. 569, Panchayat Raj-VIII, dated 13th May, 1965, I find myself in agreement with the view of my learned brother Ramachandra Raju, J., expressed in C.R.P. No. 871 of 1970. Inasmuch as the respondent is not represented in this Court, the learned Government Pleader was fair enough to state that it was necessary to consider the provisions of sections 139 and 150 of the Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayats Act, 1964. Section 139 lays down the limitation for recovery of dues in the following words: " 139. Limitation for recovery of dues: No distraint shall be made, no suit shall be instituted and no prosecution shall be commenced in respect of any tax or other amount due to a gram panchayat under this Act or any rule, bye-law, regulation or order made under it, after the expiration of a period. of three years from the date on which distraint might first have been made, a suit might first have been instituted, or prosecution might first have been commenced, as the case may be, in respect of such tax or amount." And section 150 lays down the liability of the Sarpanch, and Executive Authority for loss, waste or misapplication of property as under: (1) The Sarpanch or the Executive Authority shall be liable for the loss, waste or misapplication of any money or other property owned by or vested in the gram panchayat if such loss, waste or misapplication is a direct consequence of his neglect or misconduct; and a suit for compensation may be instituted against him in any Court of competent jurisdiction by the gram panchayat with the previous sanction of the Commissioner. (2) Every such suit shall be commenced within three years after the date on which the cause of action arose". Section 139 is mainly intended to prescribe a period of limitation for the recovery of dues and does not, in terms, specify the person or the authority who is competent to file suits on behalf of the gram panchayat. Section 150 also merely lays down that a suit for compensation for loss, waste or misapplication of property of the gram panchayat occasioned as a direct consequence of the neglect or misconduct of the Sarpanch or executive authority, may be instituted against him in any Court of competent jurisdiction by the gram panchayat with the previous sanction of the Commissioner. This section also does not, in terms, lay down as to who is competent to file the suit on behalf of the gram panchayat. There is no other specific provision of the Act which lays down that a particular person or authority alone may institute a suit on behalf of the gram panchayat. On the other hand, Clause (8) of the sub-section (2) of section 217 empowers the Government to frame rules as to the power of auditors to disallow and surcharge items and as to appeals against order of disallowance or surcharge, and also as regards the recovery of sums disallowed or surcharged. In exercise of these powers, the Government has issued G.O. Ms. No. 569, Panchayat Raj VIII, dated 13th May, 1965. Rule 5 thereof empowers the auditors to disallow every item contrary to law and surcharge the same on the person making or authorising the making of the illegal payments and may charge against any person responsible therefor, the amount of any deficiency, loss or unprofitable outlay incurred by the negligence or misconduct of that person or of any sum which ought to have been, but is not, brought to account by that person and shall, in every such case, certify the amount due from such person. Rule 7 thereof declares that the sum so certified shall be payable by such person and if not paid, shall be recoverable by the District Panchayat Officer. Having regard to the above, it is the District Panchayat Officer that is entitled to recover on behalf of the gram panchayat any sum certified by the auditor as due from such Sarpanch. There is nothing in section 139 or section 150, which in any way militates against the conclusion that the District Panchayat Officer is authorised to file a suit on behalf of the gram panchayat for the recovery of surcharge amounts.;


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