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‘No-confidence can`t be vested in the bureaucracy’

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that "no-confidence motion" was an inherent and integral part of democracy which cannot be vested in the bureaucracy as it creates a "very dangerous situation" and is unconstitutional.



New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday ruled
that "no-confidence motion" was an inherent and integral part
of democracy which cannot be vested in the bureaucracy as it
creates a "very dangerous situation" and is unconstitutional.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad castigated
Punjab government for amending the Panchayati Raj Act to vest
the powers indirectly in the bureaucracy, thus depriving the
elected members to remove a sarpanch.
"He (official) can`t be a dictator. There are basic
tenets of democracy and Article 14 cannot be violated. It is
violative of the preamble of the Constitution.

"It is killing the spirit of democracy. It is a
legislative perversion. You have created a situation where a
sapranch can never be removed by a no-confidence motion. No
confidence motion is an integral an inherent right," the bench
said.

The apex court made the remarks while refusing to
entertain the state government`s appeal challenging Punjab and
Haryana High Court`s decision to quash the amendment as being
unconstitutional.

The high court had last month struck down the
implementation of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Amendment Act,
2011. It was sought to be put into retrospective effect from
July 1 last.

Under the controversial amendment which was introduced
by way of Section 1(2), sarpanches cannot be removed by a
no-confidence motion at least for two years. Their subsequent
removal was subject to an application made to the block
development officer or other senior officials who were
virtually given the power to scrutinise the motion and decide
on it.

The apex court rejected Additional Advocate General
Rupinder Singh Kaushal`s plea that the amendment was made to
prevent group ism in villages.

"It is violative of the basic structure of the
Constitution. It will lead to a very dangerous situation.
Tomorrow you will come out with a legislation by extending the
term of a sarpanches by 10, 15, or 20 years also. You will say
he can`t be removed," the bench said.

"It is for the people at the grass roots level to
decide. How can it be that the members cannot remove a
sapranch through no-confidence if he is involved in corrupt
practises?
"The centre of power is not at the panchayat but at
somewhere else," the apex court said.

Prior to the amendment under Section 19 of the
Panchayati Raj Act 2008, 2/3rd of the Panches of a Panchayat
can pass a no-confidence motion against a Sarpanch leading to
his/her removal from the office.

However, by the amendment Section 19 was deleted and
the following provisions were incorporated.

To move a "no confidence motion against Sarpanch (i)
an application regarding intention to move a motion of no-
confidence against a Sarpanch to be made to the Block
Development and Panchayat Officer by a two-thirds majority of
the total number of Panches of the Gram Sabha concerned.

"Provided that no such application shall be made
unless a period of two years has elapsed from the date on
which the Sarpanch assumed his office.

The Block Development and Panchayat Officer shall,
within a period of fifteen days of receipt of application
under sub section (i), convene a meeting of the Gram Sabha by
giving seven days in notice for discussing and taking a
decision on the no confidence motion.

If the no-confidence motion is carried in the meeting
convened under sub section 2 which shall be presided over by
the Block Development and Panchayat Officer or an Officer not
below the rank of Social Education and Panchayat Officer
authorised by the Block Development and Panchayat Officer in
this behalf, by a majority of the Gram Sabha present and
voting concerned, the Sarpanch shall be deemed to have been
removed from his office, and a new Sarpanch shall be elected
in his place.
"Provided that if the no-confidence motion is lost,
another such motion shall not be moved against that Sarpanch
before the expiry of two years from the date of its having
been lost," the amendment had said.

PTI

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