Decided on February 24,1960


Cited Judgements :-



Modi, J. - (1.)THIS is an application for writ by Gokulchand, Sar Panch of village. Panchayat Gangani, Tehsil Osian, District Jodhpur, under Art. 226, of the Constitution and raises an interesting question as to the interpretation of sec. 19 of the Rajasthan Panchayat Act (No. XXI) of 1953 (hereinafter called the Act ). Learned counsel for both patties are agreed that the point is not covered by authority of this or any other Court.
(2.)IT is necessary to state a few facts in order to appreciate the point in controversy. IT is common ground between the parties that under Sec. 4 of the Act, this Panchayat consists of 10 members including the Sar Panch. The elections to this Panchayat were last held on the 17th December, 1959, as a result of which the petitioner was elected as Sar Panch and opposite parties Nos. 2 to 8 as Panchas. IT is also not in dispute that. village Sewki constituted a part of this Panchayat and two Panchas were to be returned by it but the inhabitants of this village refused to go to the polls, for reasons which are not material for our purposes, so that two out of the ten seats assigned to this Panchayat have remained vacant. IT then appears that the opposite parties Nos. 2 to 8 passed a vote of no-confidence against the petitioner on the 26th March, 1959. On the 28th March, 1959, the District Panchayat Officer informed the Sar Panch, vide annexure 2, that the resolution passed against him was invalid as it had not been passed by the requisite three-forths majority which apparently, according to this officer, should have consisted of 8 members out of the total strength of the Panchayat being 10. The Panchas then reported the matter to the Chief Panchayat Officer on the 20th April, 1959 (annexure 3 ). The Chief Panchayat Officer held that the vote of no-confidence passed by the opposite parties aforesaid against the petitioner was valid, and, therefore, he proceeded to direct him to vacate. his office. A fresh election of Sar Panch was also ordered. This led to the filing of the present writ petition by the petitioner in this Court on the 4th May, 1959. By an interim order of this court dated the 6th May, 1959, this fresh election was postponed. IT is in these circumstances that the question of the correct interpretation of sec. 19 of the Act which governs the matter has arisen.
The relevant portion of sec. 19 is as follows - (1) A motion of no-confidence may be moved by any Panch after giving such notice as may be prescribed against the Sarpanch and Upsarpanch. (2) If the motion against the Sarpanch is carried by a majority of not less than 3/4th of the total number of Panchas. . . . . . . . . the Sarpanch. . . . . . . . . . . shall within 3 days of the passing of the motion resign his office by submitting his resignation to the Chief Panchayat Officer and thereupon his office shall be deemed to be vacant. (3) If the Sarpanch. . . . . . . . . against whom the motion of no-confidence has been carried does not resign his office within the period prescribed in sub-sec. (2), he shall be removed from his office by the Chief Panchayat Officer. "

The question for determination, therefore, is what is the precise meaning of the phrase "by a majority of not less than 3/4th of the total number of Panchas" occurring in sub-sec. (2) of Sec. 19 set out above. In other words, whether the phrase "total number of Panchas" signifies the total strength of the Panchayat as fixed under sec. 4 of the Act or the total number of Panchas for the time being. The learned Deputy Government Advocate strenuously contends that the latter is and should be the correct interpretation of the phrase in question. If this is held to be correct, then there is no doubt that the total number of Panchas for the time being of this Panchayat was only 8, and a three-forths majority of it would comprise six members only, and on this interpretation, the no-confidence motion should be held to have been passed by the requisite statutory majority. If, on the other hand, the correct meaning of the expression "total number of Panchas" is the entire number of Panchas of the Panchayat irrespective of any vacancies therein, then the resolution in this case should have been passed by at least 8 members, and, therefore, the resolution passed by 7 members who constituted the Panchayat for the tune being must be held to be invalid.

On having given the matter my most careful and anxious consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the second interpretation is the correct one. The language used by the Legislature is to the effect that the majority should be of not less than 3/4th of the total number of Panchas. The expression "total number of Panchas'' is not qualified by any other restriction. As I look at the matter, therefore, the phrase "the total number of Panchas" properly means the total number of Panchas of the Panchayat concerned.

The next question is what is the total number of Panchas of a Panchayat. For an answer to this question, we cannot but turn to sec. 4 which says that a Panchayat shall consist of such number of Panchas. . . . . . . . . as the State, Government may think fit subject to certain limitations which are immaterial for our purpose. It is the common case of the parties that this number was fixed as 10 for the Panchayat with which we are concerned. Three-fourths of this number is 7| and, as a fraction must in this context count for a whole number, the requisite majority should consist of 8 members as the minimum.

The learned Deputy Government Advocate submits that if this interpretation is adopted, a vote of no confidence could not possibly be passed against an erring Sarpanch in the present case and that this could hardly have been the intention of the Legislature. In the second place, he relies on sec. 22 which lays down, inter alia; that no act of Panchayat shall be deemed invalid by reason of any vacancy in the number of Panchas prescribed for such Panchayat.

Taking up the second point first, it seems to me that sec. 22 has no real, relevance for the determination of the question before me. All it means is that an objection as to the invalidity of any act done by a Panchayat on the ground that there was a vacancy in the number of Panchas prescribed for such Panchayat or on any other ground mentioned in that section shall not be of any effect. Applying the section to the present case, what it really means is that although the total strength of the Panchayat in question is 10 members as prescribed by the Government under sec. 4 of the Act and only 8 Panchas were actually returned, two vacancies yet remaining to be filled, any act done by the remaining members of Panchas shall not be invalid on such a ground alone, that is, on the ground that there were two vacancies on the Panchayat, and, therefore, the Panchayat was not properly constituted. This section in my considered opinion does not and cannot govern sec. 19 which lays down the entire law so far as the motion of no-confidence is concerned and whether such a motion is validly passed or not must be decided by the requirements of this section and not Sec. 22.

As for the first argument, it certainly so turns out that in the case of a Panchayat like the present, a motion of no confidence cannot be passed so long as the total number of Panchas functioning in this Panchayat remains what it is, this number being less than eight. But this, in my opinion, does not constitute a sufficient ground for putting any other interpretation on the phrase "total number of Panchas" which it naturally bears. As I have already stated, the phrase in question stands unqualified and the total number of Panchas of a Panchayat can, in my opinion, only mean the number fixed for it under sec. 4 and no other. The interpretation suggested by the learned Deputy Government Advocate would mean introduction of some more words into the section, after the word "panchas" such as "for the time being"; but this the court can have no warrant to do so long as a rational meaning can be put on the words used. That such a meaning can be put without the introduction of any such words into the section admits of no doubt. If that is so, I see no compelling reasons to introduce any more words into the section such as the learned Deputy Government Advocate wishes me to do. I may also add that such a course would not be correct according to the accepted rules of interpretation of statutes. I, therefore, decline to do so.

(3.)AGAIN it seems to me that the emphasis is on the total number of Panchas, and as I look at the matter, the total number of Panchas of a Panchayat can only be a certain number, that number being fixed for it by the Government. In other words, this is the number not exclusive but inclusive of the vacancies on a certain Panchayat at a given time. Lex me illustrate this by a simple example. Suppose the strength of a Panchayat is 16, the maximum which can be prescribed under the Act. Suppose again that out of these 16 persons some may have been disqualified and some others may have resigned or had died so that the actual number of members functioning on this Panchayat may be 8. Let us further suppose that a motion of no confidence is passed by six out of these eight members who alone are functioning at the time. Now, on the interpretation sought to be put by the learned Deputy Government Advocate, such a resolution would be in perfect compliance with the requirements of sec. 19 (2 ). Speaking for myself, I can see no wholesome or beneficial purpose being served by such an interpretation for the very important reason that a Sarpanch who was elected to his office by a majority of all the voters of the entire Panchayat would stand to be deprived of his office by a handful of Panchas who do not represent the vast majority of voters who originally elected him to that office. Such a result does not commend itself to me and I am not prepared to hold that by the language of the legislature as used in this section it was ever its intention to do anything of the kind. I should also like to add that if that is what the legislature meant, it could have certainly used appropriate language to express that intention and which it should not have been difficult for it to choose. Thus, e. g. , the legislature in its wisdom might well have said that the motion of no-confidence to be successful must be carried by majority of not less than 3/4th of the number of Panchas present and voting, or of not less than 3/4ths of the number of Panchas functioning or capable of functioning as such for the time being. That is, however, not the language employed in sub-section (2) of sec. 19, and, therefore, on a balance of all the relevant considerations, the view that I feel persuaded to accept is that the phrase "3/4th of the total number of Panchas" means 3/4ths of the total number of Panchas prescribed under sec. 4 of the Act. I hold accordingly. I may add, however, that if the intention of the Legislature is any other than the one which the plain language of the section bears, then it is for the Legislature, to express its intention clearly by a suitable amendment of the section as it stands at present so as to carry out the desired intention.
If this interpretation of sec. 19 is correct, as I think it is, then it would inevitably follow that the motion of no-confidence passed in this case was not passed validly in accordance with the proportion of majority laid down in sec. 19 (2) of the Act, and it must, therefore, be struck down as illegal.

In this view of the matter it is unnecessary to express any opinion on the other points canvassed before this Court on behalf of the petitioner.

The result is that I allow this writ application and quash the motion of no confidence passed against the petitioner as illegal and the further proceedings consequen-rial to it but without any order as to costs. .


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