Staff Reporter

MADURAI: A District Collector is not empowered to suspend a panchayat servant.

He/she could only direct the panchayat president concerned to pass the suspension order within a specific period, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled.

Justice K. Chandru passed the ruling while disposing of a writ petition filed by an assistant with the Kombaipatti panchayat under the Batlagundu panchayat union in Dindigul district.

However, considering the grave charge of misappropriation levelled against the petitioner, the Judge refused to quash the suspension order passed by the Collector.

Alternatively, the Judge said that the impugned order, dated April 7, 2004, shall be construed as a direction issued by the Collector to the panchayat president to pass the suspension order under Section 204 (1) of the Tamil Nadu Village Panchayats Act, 1994.

In turn, the Kombaipatti panchayat president was ordered to complete the exercise within three weeks.

Mr. Justice Chandru further said that the Collector had directly passed the suspension order only because the former panchayat president, who was a silent spectator to the irregularities, had refused to take action.