Decided on July 01,1963



- (1.) These four Revision Petitions and the Writ Petition have been heard together as they arise out of the same facts and can conveniently be disposed of by a common judgment. The four revision petitioners were members of Gangadhara Nellore Panchayat Samithi. They became members of the Panchayat Samithi by virtue of their office as Presidents of the Panchayats which were situated within the local jurisdiction of the Panchayat Samithi. Their ex-officio membership of the Samithi was by virtue of section 4 of the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Samithis and Zilla Parishads Act.
(2.) Section 4(1) (i) of the Act provides that in the Andhra area, the President of every Panchayat shall be a member of the Panchayat Samithi, ex-officio. During their membership of the Samithi, a question was raised as to their having become disqualified to continue as members. As the Petitioners were in doubt as to whether they had become so disqualified, they filed a petition before the District Munsif at Chittoor under section 11 of the Act. The District Munsif adjudicated that they had become disqualified under section 10 of the Act read with section 9 (d) of it and had therefore ceased to be members of the Panchayat Samithi. The Petitioners who are aggrieved by this decision have come up to this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution for getting it set aside.
(3.) The principal ground taken in the Revision Petitions is that, a Panchayat President who is an ex-officio member of the Panchayat Samithi will not cease to be a member of the Samithi unless and until he ceases to be President of the Panchayat. In other words, the argument of the learned counsel is that, cesser of their membership of the Samithi could come about only as a result of the petitioners losing their office of President of Panchayats and that therefore so long as they were not found to be disqualified to hold that office, they could not be held to have become disqualified to continue as members of the Samithi. In support of this argument, the learned counsel for the revision petitioners cited the decision of a Single Judge of this Court in Balakota Reddy v. Satyanarayana Rao, (1962) 2 A.L.T. 157. This decision does not appear to me to have been rendered under section 10 of the Act. It seems to proceed on the basis that a person who is the President of a Panchayat on the date of the constitution of the Samithi will ipso facto become a member of the Samithi on that date. In other words, it holds that section 9 will not affect the statutory right of the President of a Panchayat to become an ex-officio member of the Panchayat Samithi. It is not necessary for me in the present case to deal with this aspect of the matter. I am here concerned only with the scope and application of section 10 of the Act which comes into effect only after a person becomes a member of the Samithi. No doubt, there are certain observations in the decision above cited which seem to lend support to the contention of the petitioner's learned counsel that even the provisions of section 10 will not apply to the case of a person who becomes a member of the Samithi on account of his being the President of a Panchayat. But I do not think the learned Judge intended to lay down the law that way. If he did, I should consider the decision to have been rendered incuriam which need not therefore be followed even by him, not to speak of other Courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction. It is well established that, to a decision given per incuriam the principle of comity of judgments will not apply. In Nicholas v. Penny, L.R. (1950) 2 K.B. 466. the Court of Appeal had to consider this question. Lord Grddard, Chief Justice, made the following observations at pages 472-473 : "........it has been laid down by the Court of Appeal in Young v. Bristol Aeroplane Co., Ltd., L.R. (1944) 1 K.B. 718 at 729. which has been followed quite recently in this Court, that where material cases or statutory provisions, which show that a Court has decided a case wrongly, were not brought to its attention the Court is not bound by that decision in a subsequent case. " Lord Greene in Young v. Bristol Aeroplane Co., Ltd. observed : "Where the Court has construed a statute or a rule having the force of a statute its decision stands on the same footing as any other decision on a question of law, but where the Court is satisfied that an earlier decision was given in ignorance of the terms of a statute or a rule having the force of a statute the position is very different. It cannot, in our opinion, be right to say that in such a case the Court is entitled to disregard the statutory provision and is bound to follow a decision of its own given when that provision was not present to its mind. Cases of this description are examples of decisions given per incuriam.";

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