Bombay High Court: A single judge bench comprising of MS Sonak, J. reversed an order of the Additional Commissioner, thereby restoring the order of the Additional Collector which had disqualified the respondent from continuing as a member of the village panchayat of Karkamb by relying on Section 14 (1) (j-3) of Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act of 1958, that is, encroachment on government land or public property.
The respondents contended that the term for which respondent had been elected as member of the Panchayat had ended in October, 2017, and therefore, the petition had become in fructuous. However, the petitioner pointed it out that if the order was not set aside, then the respondent would be free to continue as a member of the Panchayat if he is elected again which would be against the letter and spirit of the aforementioned statute, since it clearly provides for disqualification from appointment as member of a Panchayat as long as the encroachment on government land or public property continues.
In the present case, the encroachment had occurred in 1996 and continued not just till 2012 when he was elected as member, but even thereafter. Therefore, the order of disqualification by the Additional Collector was restored. [Satish N. Deshmukh v. Additional Commissioner, Pune division, 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 9433, order dated 14-12-2017]