V. N. Khare, J. -
(1.)There is a village called Wazidpur in Block Ghal Khurd in the district of Firozepur, Punjab. For the said village and certain other adjoining areas, Gram Sabha, Wazidpur was constituted and established under S. 4 of the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as the '1952 Act'). The areas included in the said Gram Sabha were villages Khanpur and Harijan Colony. After 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 came into force Punjab Legislature enacted the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) in conformity with the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution. After the Act came into force, it appears that the residents of village Khanpur represented to the Government for having an independent Gram Sabha for village Khanpur by including certain portions of area of Gram Sabha, Wazidpur. The Government after making inquiry issued notifications dated 24-10-1997 under Ss. 3, 4 and 10 of the Act respectively. By the said notification, the Government under S. 3 of the Act declared the territorial area of Gram Sabha, Khanpur comprising of abadi portions of village Wazidpur and villages Khanpur and Harijan Colony. By another notification of the same date, the Government declared the establishment of Gram Sabha, Khanpur under S. 4 of the Act. The Government also constituted Gram Panchayat for the Gram Sabha, Khanpur. It was at this stage, respondent No. 1, who was Sarpanch of Gram Sabha, Wazidpur and respondent No. 2, who was the member of the Gram Panchayat, Wazidpur filed a writ petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution challenging the validity of the notifications dated 24-10-1997. The contentions raised by the writ petitioners before the High Court, inter alia, were that no opportunity of hearing having been afforded before declaring the territorial area of village Khanpur inasmuch as before establishing Gram Sabha, Khanpur, the notifications were invalid; that, the locality Harijan Colony not being contiguous to village Khanpur, the said locality could not have been included in Gram Sabha, Khanpur and, that, the notifications under Ss. 3 and 4 of the Act could not have been issued simultaneously and, therefore, the notifications are invalid. The aforesaid contentions advanced by the writ petitioners found favour with the High Court. Consequently, the writ petition was allowed and the impugned notifications dated 24-10-1997 to the extent it related to the Gram Sabha, Khanpur were set aside. It is against the said judgment of the High Court, the State of Punjab has preferred this appeal by way of special leave petition.
(2.)Learned counsel appearing for the appellant assailed the reasoning given by the High Court and argued that none of the reasons given by the High Court while allowing the writ petition is tenable in law and, therefore, the judgment under challenge deserves to be set aside. None has appeared for the respondents writ petitioners.
(3.)After hearing learned counsel for the appellant, we are of the view that following questions arise for our consideration in this appeal.
(1) whether the State Government was required to give an opportunity of hearing to the residents of the area excluded from Gram Sabha, Wazidpur and now included in the Gram Sabha, Khanpur before issuing notifications under Ss. 3 and 4 of the Act, respectively declaring territorial area of Gram Sabha, Khanpur and establishing Gram Sabha, Khanpur;
(2) whether the notifications under Ss. 3 and 4 of the Act could be issued simultaneously; and
(3) whether the Harijan colony being not contiguous to the village Khanpur it could not have been included in Gram Sabha, Khanpur under S. 3(ii) of the Act.