“It could hardly be stated that there was any impropriety in the procedure which commenced 4 years ago”

The Madras High Court on Thursday upheld the merger of Tiruverumbur Town Panchayat with the Tiruchirappalli City Municipal Corporation.

In its judgment allowing an appeal by the State Government challenging a single judge's order, the First Bench comprising the Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, said the proposal for annexing Tiruverumbur with Tiruchi city emanated from the government by an order dated March 16, 2007. It could hardly be stated that there was any impropriety in the procedure which commenced four years ago.

Originally, the petitioner, P. Balachandar, had said the impugned orders had been issued without following Section 3 (1) of the Tiruchirappalli City Municipal Corporation (TCMC) Act which required prior consultation between the government and the corporation. The proposal, if any, should be published in newspapers so as to invite objections. Publication in the gazette would not amount to proper publication. The public's objections were not considered.

The single judge referred to the TCMC Act and the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) Act and held that paper publication of the notification was mandatory. In the absence of paper publication, the merger proceedings suffer.

Advocate-General A. Navaneethakrishnan said the merger proposal was initiated in 2007 during the previous rule.

The Collector conducted a public hearing which was communicated to the government. The government conducted a review meeting.

Only thereafter the resolution was passed by the Tiruchirappalli Corporation on August 27 last year.

The Bench referred to Section 459 of CCMC Act and said it was mandatory that every notification issued under the Act should be published in Tamil also.

However, if the government opined that the notification should be published either in Tamil or English alone or instead of a gazette publication if any other mode had to be adopted, the same may be directed to be done.

For such a purpose, a separate order invoking the proviso to Section 459 was required. Admittedly, no such order had been issued by the government.