For failure to convene grama sabhas

All members of the 18-member council of Kuruvattur grama panchayat in Kozhikode district have been disqualified from holding his or her position for not convening the grama sabha within the time limit prescribed by the Panchayat Raj Act.

State Election Commissioner (SEC) K. Sasidharan Nair, on Saturday, also disqualified 21 of the 22 elected members of Varandarapilly grama panchayat in Thrissur district for the same reason.

An official press release said that action against these panchayat members was on the basis of mass petitions submitted before the State Election Commissioner by voters of the two grama panchayats.

Section 3 (3) of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act stipulates that a panchayat member should convene his or her grama sabha once in three months. The member concerned will be disqualified from holding the elected post if he or she had failed to convene two consecutive grama sabhas. Any voter can bring such a failure to the attention of the State Election Commission.

The press release said the members of the Varandarapilly grama panchayat had delayed convening their grama sabhas on the argument that it could wait till the district planning committee had approved its plan document. The members of the Kuruvattoor grama panchayat argued before the commission that the delay in their case was because of the Assembly elections that came during the period.

Mr. Sasidharan Nair, in his order disposing of the petitions, said the grama sabha was not conceived merely as a forum for selecting the beneficiaries of various schemes implemented by the panchayat.