22 Jan 2121

The no-confidence motion was “lost” contrary to the meaning of section 15(i) of the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994 - Gauhati High Court

Case : Luthfa Begum Laskar v. The State of Assam And 16 Ors. WA/200/2020

Court : Gauhati High Court

Bench : Justice Kalyan Rai Surana and Justice Mir Alfaz Ali

Decided on : 22 Jan 2121

The Relevant Statutes

Section 15 of the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1. The appellant was the elected President of 9 No. Sonabarighat Gaon Panchayat. The respondent, who are the members of the said Gaon Panchayat had moved a motion of no confidence against the appellant on 21st august 2020 by a resolution.

2. The aggrieved appellant moved this Court on the ground that it is vitiated by irregularities and was in violation of the requirements of section 15 of the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994 by projecting that under section 15(i) of the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994 the President was entitled to at least 15 (fifteen) days to approve a meeting of no confidence against her, but even before the expiry of the said period, the Secretary of the 9 No. Sonabarighat Gaon Panchayat had moved the President of Sonai Anchalik Panchayat under the second paragraph of section 15(i) of the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994

3. The learned counsel for the respondent had made a statement that there is a possibility that the procedural requirement of section 15(i) Assam Panchayat Act, 1994 may not have been followed and upon instructions and had a prayer to allow him to withdraw the resolution dated 21st august 2020 by which the appellant had been removed from the post of 9 No. Sonabarighat Gaon Panchayat.

4. The Guwahati High court didn’t object and allowed it by the impugned order dated 08th September 2020, declaring the resolution dated 21st august 2020 to be null and void. It was also provided that the resolution has not been defeated, but it is a case where it has not been pressed upon by the respondents, resulting in its withdrawal.

5. It was expressed by the learned Judge of Guwahati High Court that the respondents are entitled to proceed in any manner as they may be advised under the law.

6. After the appellant filed a review petition the Guwahati High court on 15th October 2020 said that “When the motion was lost, the consequence of the other relevant provisions of law including that there cannot be a further no-confidence motion again within a period of 6 (six) months would also be applicable .”

7. The aforesaid order dated 08th September 2020 was challenged by the respondents by filing an intra-Court appeal and the coordinate Division Bench of Guwahati High Court by judgment and order dated 24th November 2020, allowed the said writ appeal and set aside the order dated 15th October 2020 by clarifying that since the resolution dated 21st august 2020 passed the no-confidence motion cannot be said to have been “lost” within the meaning of section 15(i) Assam Panchayat Act, 1994, the bar in bringing a no-confidence motion against the President within six months thereof will not apply.

8. The appellant has now filed this intra-Court appeal against the order dated 08th September 2020, thereby allowing the respondents to withdraw the resolution dated 21st august 2020 by which the appellant was ousted from the office of the President of 9 No. Sonabarighat Gaon Panchayat.

The Issue(s) of the Case

Whether the no-confidence motion cannot be said to have been “lost” within the meaning of Section 15(i) of the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994, the bar in bringing a no-confidence motion against the President within six months thereof will not apply?

The observation of the Court

1. The Honourable Guwahati High Court is of the opinion that the review order dated 15th October 2020 in the Review petition had got merged with the judgment and order dated 08th September 2020.

2. On the order of review being set aside by judgment and order dated 24th November 2020, passed by the co-ordinate Division Bench of Guwahati High Court, the appeal against the judgment and order dated 08th September 2020 is held to be not maintainable on facts and in law. 

3. This legal position can be examined in another manner. Assuming that the appeal against the order dated 08th September 2020 is entertained and decided in favour of the appellants by holding that the no-confidence motion was “lost”, in that even it would operate contrary to the ratio laid down by the coordinate Division Bench of Guwahati High Court in another appeal wherein it was held that since the resolution dated 21st august 2020 passed the no-confidence motion cannot be said to have been “lost” within the meaning of section 15(i) of Assam Panchayat Act, 1994 the bar in bringing a no-confidence motion against the President within six months thereof will not apply.

The Decision held by the Court

1. The decision was laid in favour of appellants by holding that the no-confidence motion was “lost”.

2. The Honorable Guwahati High Court dismissed the appeal as not maintainable.

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