Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A single judge’s order setting aside an order of the Collector-cum-Inspector of Panchayat, Villupuram, removing a person from the presidentship of a panchayat on the charge of misappropriation of funds meant for villagers, has been set aside by the Madras High Court.

Allowing a writ appeal filed by the Collector, the Assistant Director (Panchayat) and the Tahsildar, Gingee taluk, challenging the order, the First Bench of Chief Justice A.K. Ganguly and Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla said a public authority, entrusted with suo motu powers to act for public benefit, could act on the basis of a public complaint. It might be true that if the public authority was moved by an interested party and he acted on the basis of that information, that might not be an action on the basis of suo motu exercise of his power.

But in the instant case, nobody had moved the Inspector on the basis of statutory provision; only a complaint had been filed before him by the Rotary Community Corps, with some details. The Collector, having found the complaint to be of some substance, had acted suo motu. There was no error in his initiating the proceedings. Therefore, the Bench said, it was not accepting the finding of the single judge.

But, the Bench said it was giving liberty to S. Senthamizh Selvi, who was removed as president of the Mela Arungunam panchayat, to exhaust the remedy of approaching the government under the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act against the Collector’s order within a fortnight. The government might pass an appropriate order in six weeks.