The supervisory power given to the District Collector in his capacity as the Inspector of Panchayats should be exercised with utmost care and caution, the Madras High Court has observed.

Disposing of a writ petition challenging a show-cause notice against a panchayat president, Justice V. Dhanapalan, in a recent order, stated that there were several laws aimed at achieving transparency in the democratic functioning of the Panchayat Raj system. Section 205 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act gave a supervisory jurisdiction to the District Collector over the democratically elected village president and vice-president. The statute permitted the Inspector of Panchayats to act on his own or at the instance of two-thirds of panchayat members against the president. “Therefore, such an absolute power should be exercised with utmost care and caution and not in a routine or casual manner.”

Soma Thamilarvan said that he won the election to the post of president of the Rishiyur panchayat in Tiruvarur district in 2006 with AIADMK support. Recently, he joined the DMK.

From the date of his joining the DMK, the district administration started troubling him in various ways. On June 28 this year, the Collector issued a show cause notice calling upon him to offer explanation on 14 “flimsy” charges against him.

In the counter, the Collector stated that the petitioner's allegation that the charges were framed at the instance of the ruling party was false. On a perusal of records by the Assistant Director of Panchayats, many defects were found and action was taken. Mr. Justice Dhanapalan said that in the present case, the procedure was followed by the authorities.

He said the Collector could take a decision after giving Mr. Thamilarvan an opportunity of hearing and perusal of entire records, and pass appropriate orders.