DEBASISH MAZUMDER Vs. STATE OF TRIPURA
HIGH COURT TRIPURA
STATE OF TRIPURA
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(1.) Petitioners, who are the elected members of Bokafa Panchayat samiti in South Tripura District, have challenged the order dated 27.03.2020 passed by the District Magistrate and Collector of South Tripura DistrictRespondent No.2 in purported exercise of powers under sub-section (3) of Section 76 of the Tripura Panchayats Act,1993 declaring that the petitioners earned disqualification under clause(b) of sub-section(1) of Section 76 of the Act for voting in the Panchayat Samiti meeting held on 11.02.2020 contrary to the direction of the party.
(2.) The said petitioners were elected as members of Bokafa Panchayat Samiti in South Tripura from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Panchayat Samiti election held in 2019. The said Panchayat Samity consisted of 9 elected members. Other than the petitioners, respondent No.7 and proforma respondent no 9, 10 and 11 were the other elected members of the Panchayat Samiti. After their election as members of Bokafa Panchayat Samiti from the same political party they elected Respondent No. 11 Sridam Das as Chairman and Respondent No.7 Sri Avijit Mitra as Vice-Chairman of the said Panchayat Samiti. Performance of the Chairman not being satisfactory, majority of the elected members including the petitioners and Respondent No.7 issued a notice dated 20.01.2020 Annexure-1 to the District Panchayat Officer, South Tripura respondent no.3 seeking removal of the Chairman of the said Panchayat Samiti. In response, the District Panchayat Officer Respondent No.3 vide his letter dated 28.01.2020 Annexure-2 requested the said members to submit their proposal in Form-4 in terms of sub-rule(2) of Rule 23 of the Tripura Panchayats (Administration) Rules, 1994. Accordingly they submitted the proposal Annexure-3 in Form-4 in terms of the advice of the District Panchayat Officer. The District Panchayat Officer Respondent No3 then convened a meeting for removal of the Chairman on 11.02.2020 at 11 A.M in the Panchayat Samiti hall at Bokafa and issued notice dated 01.02.2020Annexure-4 to all elected members of the said Panchayat Samiti to attend the meeting. The members were also informed that Anita Mog, Panchayat Officer Respondent No.5 will preside over the meeting and Sri Anish Debnath, Assistant Director of Panchayat Respondent No.6 will act as an observer in the said meeting. The meeting was held on the appointed date and in the said meeting all the 5 petitioners cast their votes in favour of the no confidence motion by raising their hands. Accordingly, the no confidence motion against the Chairman of the Panchayat Samiti was passed by the majority vote of 5 petitioners in the said Panchayat Samiti consisting of 9 elected members and the District Panchayat Officer Respondent No.3 vide order dated 24.02.2020 Annexure-5 removed Sri Sridam Das, Respondent No.11 from the office of the Chairman of the said Panchayat Samiti. Thereafter, the District Magistrate and Collector Respondent No.2 vide memorandum dated 13.03.2020 Annexure-6 asked the petitioners to show cause as to why they shall not be disqualified from membership of the said Panchayat Samiti in terms of clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 76 of the Tripura Panchayats Act, 1993 for voting against party whip in the said meeting of Bokafa Panchayat Samiti held on 11.02.2020. The petitioners submitted their reply Annexure-7. Thereafter, the District Magistrate and Collector Respondent No.2 vide impugned order dated 27.03.2020 Annexure-11 declared that the petitioners earned disqualification under Section 76(1)(b) of the Panchayats Act, 1933 for voting contrary to the direction of the party.
Hence the petitioners have filed this petition for quashing the impugned order of Respondent No.2.
(3.) In their counter affidavit, State respondent No.1 to 4 stated that the State BJP president authorized the District President of BJP, Shri Sankar Roy to issue the party whip to the elected members of Bokafa Panchayat Samiti to attend the meeting convened on 11.2.2020 and vote against the no confidence motion. But the petitioners voted for the no confidence motion and thereby violated the party whip. It was also contended by the respondents that the written party whip was served on the petitioners during the meeting and the said petitioners acknowledged the receipt of the party whip by putting their signatures. The proceedings of the said meeting was also videographed and the minutes of the meeting was signed by Smt. Anita Mog Respondent No.5 who conducted the meeting as Panchayat Officer, Respondent No.6, Sri Anish Debnath, Assistant Director of Panchayat who was appointed as observer of the proceedings of the meeting and Respondent No.7 Sri Avijit Mitra, Vice-Chairman of Bokafa Panchayat Samiti who presided over the meeting. Anish Debnath Respondent No-6 Assistant Director of Panchayat also submitted a report dated 17.02.2020 to the District Panchayat Officer and acting on the minutes of the proceedings and the report of Respondent No.6, the District Magistrate and Collector, after issuing show cause notice to the petitioners and considering their replies, declared that they earned disqualification under Section 76 (1)(b) of the Panchayats Act, 1993.;
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