Appoint govt. servants as gram panchayat administrator: HC

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday passed an interim order directing that a government servant or officer of the local authority be appointed as an administrator for nearly 15,000 gram panchayats where the terms of these officers have ended or would be ending.

A Division Bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Abhay Ahuja was hearing two petitions — one filed by Vilas D. Kunjir and others; the other by Pradeep Shivaram Hulawale and others — concerning the Maharashtra Village Panchayat (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, and the government resolutions (GRs) dated July 13 and 14 issued by the State Rural Development Department respectively. The GRs and ordinance were challenged on various grounds and relate to the appointment of private individuals as administrators of gram panchayats.

Senior advocates Milind Sathe and Pralhad Paranjpe appearing for Mr. Hulawale and others, pleaded that no administrator, at least no private person, be appointed. Mr. Sathe argued that the appointments of private administrators is not warranted in law and such mass appointments will have a lasting adverse impact on the local governance. He said there are enough officers from different departments of the State and local authorities to be appointed as administrators, and this excuse is only to achieve certain political ends. He said it has always been a practice to appoint officers as administrators.

Advocate-General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni however, opposed any interim order and stated that administration of panchayats would be hampered if an administrator is not appointed. He said there are a large number of gram panchayats in the State and the government servants are overburdened so they will not be appointed as administrators.

The court held, “because of the pandemic, elections are not being held and if administrator is not appointed, the working of the gram panchayat will be affected.”

The court said, “We see no reason why government servants or officers from the local authorities should not be the first choice for the State for appointment as an administrator. As an interim measure, the administrator to be appointed under the ordinance and resolutions, should be a government servant or an officer from the local authority. If not available and the appointment of a private individual is to be made, then each such order shall record the reasons in writing setting out the circumstances in which such officer was not available to function as an administrator for the gram panchayat.”

The matter has been posted for further hearing on July 27.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 4:50:04 PM |

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