Staff Reporter

He has withdrawn financial powers of three panchayat chiefs

They pinpointed certain deficiencies in scheme

Judge quashes orders passed by the Collector

MADURAI: The Madras High Court on Wednesday criticised the Sivaganga Collector Pankaj Kumar Bansal for revoking the financial powers of three panchayat presidents who pinpointed certain deficiencies in implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).

Allowing the writ petitions filed in the Madurai Bench by the presidents of Arasakulam, Rajagambeeram and Vellikurichi panchayats by a common order, Justice K. Chandru quashed the orders passed by the Collector on February 21.

The Judge pointed out that the three petitioners were office-bearers of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Presidents’ Federation which met on February 16 and discussed several deficiencies in implementing NREGS in Sivaganga.

A resolution was also passed to stop the scheme until the deficiencies were rectified.

There was also adverse publicity in the media about the resolution passed by the Federation. Irked over it, the Collector had invoked his powers under Section 203 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act and cancelled the petitioners’ financial powers within four days since the Federation met.

Mr. Justice Chandru observed that the resolutions could not be termed unnecessary or to have brought disrepute to NREGS.

“Instead of calling for a meeting on the basis of defects or deficiencies pointed out under the scheme, the respondents have blown the issue out of proportion,” he added.

The Judge went on to state that withdrawing the financial powers of the panchayat presidents would only bring a great dislocation to NREGS rather than ensuring its smooth implementation. “Before dislodging the powers of the petitioners, the first respondent (Collector) should have thought twice…He need not be hypersensitive about the resolution,” he said.

The Collector contented that the financial powers were withdrawn because the presidents were not properly implementing the scheme.

To this, the Judge pointed out that there were no materials to support the contention as there were only four days between the day on which the Federation met and the impugned orders passed by the Collector.