Chandigarh, August 16, 2023: As per media reports, the decision of Punjab Government to dissolve all the gram panchayats in the state, has come under judicial scanner with the filing of a petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking its quashing. Among other things, it has been stated that the notification dated August 10 was “totally illegal, arbitrary and against the principle of natural justice.”
According to the news published in The Tribune, the e petition Is slated to be heard by the high court Bench of Justice Raj Mohan Singh and Justice Harpreet Singh Brar on Thursday. The petitioners –– elected representatives/sarpanches of gram panchayats –– submitted through counsel Manish Kumar Singla, Shikha Singla and Dinesh Kumar that the notification was also against the settled law. Elaborating, they contended all the gram panchayats in Punjab had wrongly and illegally been dissolved before the expiry of the tenure/term of the elected representatives.
It was added that the petitioners being elected sarpanches took charge only in January 2019. As such, their tenure was up to January 2024. But it was decided by the sgovernment to hold elections of gram panchayats by December 31.
The petitioners added that all gram panchayats were dissolved and Director, Rural Development and Panchayats –cum–Special Secretary, was authorized to appoint administrators to perform all the functions and exercise powers of the gram panchayat.
He added the power to announce election any time and to dissolve the panchayats could not mean that the tenure laid down by the Constitution could be curtailed at the whim and fancy of the authority concerned. The Constitution guaranteed a five-year term, beginning from the date of the first meeting. This provision was sacrosanct
“The elections to the gram panchayats can be announced at any time within six months preceding the date of the completion of the term. During this interval, if the authority finds that it is in public interest so to do, it can order the dissolution of the existing panchayat(s) and not otherwise and here in the present case no public interest is there rather the present regime wants to cash in on the prevailing mood,” he added.
The petition added that one of the questions for adjudication before the Bench was whether the government could dissolve all the panchayats and announce elections before the expiry of the prescribed five-year period, “especially when even under Article 243E of the Constitution of India and Section 15 of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, it is mentioned that the term/tenure of every panchayat shall be for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting”.