(1.) THIS is a writ petition by Ganesh Ram under Article 226 of the Constitution praying for the issue of a writ, direction or order quashing the proceeding for recovery of a sum of Rs. 8, 997/30 paise which is being enforced against him under Section 256 of the Rajas-than Land Revenue Act (Act No. 151 of 1956 (hereinafter to be: referred as the "act"), and the cognate sections as amended and also for restraining the respondents from taking any further proceedings against him in that behalf under the said Act.
(2.) THE material facts are these: The petitioner Ganesh Ram was Sar Panch of gram Panchayat Ropsi. Tehsil Bhinmal district Jalore from 1961 to 1964. On the expiry of the term of the Panchayat he handed over charge of his office to the new sar Panch Tulsa Ram on or about the 8th February, 1965. According to him, a charge list was prepared of all the papers and cash which he handed over to the incoming Sar Panch and this included the sum of Rupees 5,807/63 paise, which stood as a cash balance in the Cash Book of the Panchayat on that day. A copy of the charge list has been brought on this record and is Ex-1. The petitioner's case is that in all 5 copies of this charge list were prepared at that time which consisted of 4 pages in all, and each of these pages was signed by him as well as the new Sar panch Tulsa Ram and one copy of such charge list was sent to the Collector Jalore, another to the Block Development Officer, Raniwara, yet another copy was kept in the office of the Panchayat itself and one copy each was retained by the outgoing and incoming Sar Panchas. It is common ground between the parties that the Collector and the Block development Officer received their respective copies of the charge list on the 13th february, 1965. It further appears that on the last mentioned date, that is, 13th of february, 1965, the new Sar Panch Tulsa Ram made a complaint to the Block development Officer, the Deputy District Development Officer and the Sub inspector of Police at Bhinmal that the petitioner had failed to pay him the aforesaid balance of Rs. 5,807/63 paise on demand, presumably on the 8th of february, 1965 and consequently he refused to sign the fourth page of the charge list which contained an entry as respects the delivery of this amount during the course of the charge to him, but the petitioner had somehow forged his signatures on that fourth page of each of the charge lists. It is also submitted that the particular entry relating to this item contained some over-writing. Thereafter on the 22nd March, 1965, the Tehsildar Bhinmal served a notice on the petitioner asking him to show cause why he should not be asked to deposit the sum of Rs. 5807/63 paise, which he had failed to make over to the new Sar Panch, as alleged by him. This notice is Ex. 2. In his reply to the notice, according to the petitioner, he stoutly repudiated the allegations made against him and relied in support of his submission on the charge lists which were allegedly signed by him as well as Tulsa Ram on all the pages thereof, The petitioner's grievance is that thereafter no inquiry whatsoever was made into this matter in his presence or after giving a notice to him, and that on the 12th October, 1965, the Tehsildar issued a warrant of attachment (Ex-3), against him calling upon him to pay a sum of Rs. 8,997/13 paise which included some more items (see Ex. A/9 for the details thereof), in addition to the aforesaid amount of Rs. 5,807/63 paise as having been found payable by him to the Panchayat, and certain properties belonging to the petitioner came to be attached in consequence. The petitioner then states to have moved an application Ex-4, before the Collector Jalore complaining against the action taken against him by the Tehsildar in ordering the attachment of his properties without any rhyme or reason. In this application he had also prayed that a proper inquiry be ordered to be made in his presence and he was prepared to face it. The petitioner's case, however, further is that the Collector did not accede to his request and allowed the recovery proceedings to continue and consequently he filed the present writ application in this Court on 19th April, 1960. The main contentions raised by the petitioner in his writ application may be summarised as follows: (1) It was entirely incorrect to say that any money of the Panchayat was at all outstanding against the petitioner and the fact was that he had handed over the sum of Rs. 5,807/63 paise to the new Sar Panch Tulsa ram along with the Cash Book of the Panchayat when he handed over charge to him which is clearly borne out by the signatures of the latter on all the four pages of the charge list, (2) that no inquiry was made into this matter in his presence or after notice to him and, therefore, any conclusions to which the Panchayat Assistant or the Deputy District development Officer came were ex parte and not at all binding and (3)in any case the method adopted for the recovery of the aforesaid amount from him under the Act was wholly illegal, and it was further contended in this connection, that even if any amount is considered to be realisable from the petitioner, the only method by which it would be lawfully recovered would be by means of a civil suit in a competent court where the points of dispute arising between the petitioner and the departmental authorities could be properly investigated and adjudicated upon.
(3.) THIS writ application has been opposed by the respondent State. The stand taken by the State is that the petitioner's version that he had made over the sum of Rs. 5,807/63 paise to the new Sar Panch Tulsa Ram at the time of the handing over the charge to him on or about the 8th February, 1965, was entirely false and that, although three of the four pages of the Charge list, which was prepared at the time of handing over charge had been admittedly signed by Tulsa Ram, the new Sar Panch, the fourth page which contained the relevant entry as to the delivery of the aforesaid cash amount to him was not at all signed by him and that the signatures of Tulsa Ram on that page were forged. It is further contended in this connection that there was a certain amount of over-writing in the relevant entry both in the charge list, and the cash book which was handed over by the petitioner to Tulsa Ram, the new Sar Panch and that there was no endorsement made in the cash book on the relevant date of the handing over of the cash to the latter. As for the inquiry, the position taken up by the State is that the first inquiry was conducted against him by the Panchayat Assistant ' on the 22nd April, 1965, and that although the petitioner had chosen to appear before that official, at the inception of the inquiry he made himself scarce when he was asked to give his statement which he did not want to give. A second inquiry was then made on the 13th June, 1965, by the Deputy District Development Officer after due notice to the petitioner through the Vikas Adhikari. The petitioner is alleged to have avoided his appearance before that officer and was eventually traced out at Bhinmal and then filed an application dated 19th June, 1965, making his submissions with respect to the various acts of irregularity or misconduct alleged against him and from this it is contended that it would clearly appear that the allegation of the petitioner that he had no notice of the inquiry or inquiries made against him was wholly without foundation. Lastly, it is contended that as the amount of Rs. 8997/13 paise has been rightly found due against the petitioner, it was recoverable from him under Section 256 of the Act as arrears of land revenue and consequently the Tehsildar was entitled to effect the recovery thereof.;