TULSI MALAKAR Vs. STATE OF TRIPURA
HIGH COURT TRIPURA
STATE OF TRIPURA
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AKIL KURESHI,J. -
(1.) Petitioners have challenged an order dated 17th December 2019 as Annexure - 4 which, if one goes simply by the operative portion, amounts to removal of the petitioner No.2 as an Upa-Pradhan of Santir Bazar Gram Panchayat. However, if one reads the entire order, the purport of the order is to remove the petitioners No.1 and 2 from the position of Pradhan and Upa- Pradhan respectively of the said Gram Panchayat. We do not find any separate order specifically removing the petitioner No.1 as a Pradhan of the Gram Panchayat. However, it is an admitted position that respondents No.7 and 8 have been inducted as Pradhan and Upa-Pradhan of the said Gram Panchayat on the seats vacated by the petitioners. We, therefore, proceed on the basis that the impugned order at Annexure - 4 dated 17th December, 2019 is one by which the petitioners No.1 and 2 were removed as Pradhan and Upa-Pradhan of the Gram Panchayat.
(2.) This challenge arises in following background :
Petitioners No.1 and 2 were elected as Pradhan and Upa-Pradhan of the Santir Bazar Gram Panchayat which consisted of 9 elected members. On 20th November 2019, District Panchayat Officer issued a memorandum appointing the Block Development Officer, Salema, as an Observer for the meeting which would be convened on 5th December, 2019 for removal of the Pradhan and Upa-Pradhan of the Panchayat. On 17th December 2019, District Panchayat Officer passed his impugned order which reads as under :
'A proceedings/Minutes of a meeting specially convened for removal of Pradhan and Upa-Pradhan of Santir Bazar Gram Panchayat is received from the Block Development Officer, Salema R. D. Block by vide No.F.3(13)/BDO/SLM/ESSTT/2019-20/2207 dated, 05/12/2019. In the proceedings it is seen that, out of total 09(Nine) Nos. directly elected members of Santir Bazar Gram Panchayat, 09(Nine) members attended in the meeting. From this 09(Nine) members only 05(Five) members participated in election and voted in favour of motion for removal of Pradhan and Upa-Pradhan. The remaining 04(Four) members abstain from the process of election. They neither cast their vote in favour of removal nor against of removal.
AND, now in exercise of the power conferred under the provision of Sub-Section (1) of Section (23) of the Tripura Panchayats Act, 1993 and Sub-rule (1) of Rule (5) of the Tripura Panchayats (Administration) Rules, 1994, I, the District Panchayat Officer, Dhalai District, Ambassa hereby REMOVED Smt. Bharati Rani Dey(Paul) from the office/post of the Upa-Pradhan of Santir Bazar Gram Panchayat under Salema R.D. Block from the date of issuing of this Memorandum.'
As per this order, a special meeting was conducted for removal of the Pradhan and Upa-Pradhan on 5th December, 2019. All 9 elected Members of the Gram Panchayat were present during such meeting. Only 5 members participated in the election. They all voted for the motion of removal. Remaining 4 members absented from voting. Minutes of the meeting were placed before the District Panchayat Officer who, as noted above, ordered removal of the Upa-Pradhan and we proceed to believe that not specifically removing the Pradhan was only a typographical oversight. One more thing to be noticed from this order is that the District Panchayat Officer was purportedly exercising powers under sub-section (1) of Section (23) of the Tripura Panchayats Act, 1993 ('the Panchayat Act' for short) and sub-rule (1) of Rule (5) of the Tripura Panchayats (Administration) Rules, 1994 ('the said Rules' for short).
(3.) This order the petitioners have challenged on various grounds. Principally, the contentions of the petitioners are that the District Panchayat Officer had no power to remove the petitioners under Section 23 of the Panchayat Act. Counsel submitted that the procedure laid down under the Rules for passing order under Section 23 was also not followed. Entire action was thus without authority of law.;
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