Newly-formed Panchayats Get HC Axe

In a major set back to the state government, the Kerala High Court on Monday quashed the notifications creating new panchayats by carving out parts of existing villages without notification by the Governor. The order is likely to impact constitution of 69 new panchayats. The High Court last week had quashed formation of four new municipalities.

Justice A V Ramakrishna Pillai passed the order while disposing of 47 petitions challenging two notifications. The petitions questioned forming of new panchayats without notifying those portions as new village as envisaged under Article 243 (g) of the Constitution of India. The petitioners pointed out that a village has to come into existence by a notification by the Governor as envisaged by Constitution. This is mandatory before a panchayat is constituted.

The state government submitted that the new panchayats were formed on account of long standing public demand. Based on the report submitted by a special committee, the government proposed to constitute 70 new grama panchayats. The state also submitted that the suggestions and objections were called for and the parties were heard.

“Without a prior notification conferring the status of village over the area in respect of which the panchayat has to be formed, no panchayat can be constituted. It is also crucial to note that Article 243 B of the constitution states that forming of new panchayats does not envisage the constitution of panchayats for a part of village,” the court held.

“If portions of a village come under different panchayats, the same may cause inconvenience to the residents of the village,” the court said. When the hearing in the case was in progress, the government produced the government order specifying villages under Article 243 (g) which was issued on July 10.  The court observed that as the entire exercise has to be started afresh by the state on the basis of the new notification, it can be made use of only for the elections to the local bodies to be held in the year 2020. “It cannot cure the defects in the notification in question,” the court held.

Source: IE

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