14 Jul 2121

Misconduct means an act which must be willful in character, unlawful behavior and a definite rule of action not a negligence or carelessness in the performance of the duty - Bombay High Court

Case : Ankush Achutrao Raut v. the State of Maharashtra ands Ors. Writ Petition No. 4920/2021

Court : Bombay High Court

Bench : Justice Sandeep K. Shinde

Decided on : 14 Jul 2121

Relevant Statutes

Sections 39 and 52 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959.

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1. The Petitioner No. 1 and 2 were the Sarpanch and UP- Sarpanch of the Group of Gram Panchayat, Karodi Sajapur. Petitioner No.1 was directly elected as a Sarpanch. Petitioner No 3 to 9 were elected as members of the Panchayat and Respondent no.6 was also elected as a member of the Panchayat. In a meeting on 30th January 2018, Petitioner no 1 and Respondent no 6 unanimously resolved to grant development permission to six persons to develop their respective plots.

2. Afterwards the Respondent no 6 complained to the Additional Divisional Commissioner that the resolution dated 30th January 2018 was in contravention of Section 52 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959 and also amounted to misconduct in the discharge of his duties. An application was preferred under Section 39- A of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959. Afterwards, the Additional divisional Commissioner directed the chief executive officer to hold an enquiry which chief executive Officer directed to  The Block Development Officer to held an enquiry which they hold and submitted its report to the chief executive Officer and further he issued a show-cause notice to the petitioner that why he should not be removed from the office of Panchayat under Section 39 (1) (i) of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959.

3. After hearing the Petitioners, the Chief Executive officer submitted its report to the Additional Divisional Commissioner. The Additional Chief Divisional Commissioner after hearing, held the petitioner guilty of misconduct for granting illegal development permissions and also removed him from the office of panchayat and disqualified Sarpamch and UP sarpanch for the remainder of the term, of the office of the panchayat by order dated 6th  February 2020.

4. The Petitioner filed an appeal against the order dated 6th February 2020 before the State which was further dismissed by Honourable State minister for Village Development by Order dated 10th h February 2021. In the Present Petition, The Petitioner challenged the orders dated 6th February 2020 and 10th February 2021 under Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959.

The Issue of the Case

Whether the Resolution of the Panchayat was in contravention of Section 52 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959 or the petitioner shall be held guilty of misconduct in the discharge of his duties under Section 39 (1) of Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959?

The Observations of the Court:

1. The Honourable Bombay High Court referred to one of the judgments i.e. State of Punjab v. Ram Singh  AIR 1992 SC 2188, It was held that Misconduct includes moral aptitude, unlawful behaviour, wrong behaviour not negligence in the performance of duty. The Honourable High Court observed that The Expression ``Illegal” means an act which is not authorized by law or as per Section 39 of Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959, the Misconduct means “An Act which must be willful in  character,  unlawful behaviour and a definite rule of action not a negligence or carelessness in the performance of the duty ”

2. The Honourable Bombay High Court observed that The Panchayat was not an Authority to grant development permission under Section 52 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959. The resolution dated 30th  January 2018 cannot be interpreted as a willful act in character or unlawful behaviour of the Petitioners to hold guilty of misconduct in the discharge of his duties and it could not be interpreted that the resolution passed by the panchayat was with wrongful intention.

3. The Honourable High Court observed that the Resolution was also rescinded by the Panchayat within the 8 months. The Petitioner is elected representative, and therefore the provisions of Section 39 (1) (i) and  (d) to be strictly interpreted. The Honourable High Court held that the authorities failed in making the distinction between Misconduct in the discharge of duties and Irregularities in the exercise of power and have erred in interpreting the provision of Section 39 1 (i) and 52 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959. 

4. The Honourable High also observed that the application seeking removal from the Panchayat was only against Petitioner No.1. The Petitioner no 2 to 9 were not Respondents in the Application filed in October 2018 and also they were not heard by the Block Development Officer.  The Honourable High Court held that the Petitioner 2 to 9 were removed from the Panchayat Without due process of law and also this order was not sustainable under Section 39(1)of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act 1959. 

The Decision Held by the Court

The Impugned order dated 6th February 2020 and another order dated 10th February 2021 are quashed and set aside. The Petition is allowed.

Click here to view/download the judgement >