Collector directed to exercise discretion under Section 14B of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act

Bombay High Court: A writ petition filed against the decision of the Collector was allowed holding that the Collector ought to have exercised power of discretion before mechanically disqualifying the petitioner from contesting elections.

The petitioner was elected from Ward No. 3 for the Gram Panchayat at Aurad. She also contested from Ward No. 4 from where she lost the elections. The petitioner was not able to file statement of election expenses pertaining to Ward No. 4 in term of Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act, 1958. The petitioner made an application before the Collector for extension of 5 days time for filing such statement. However, the Collector, without responding to the said application, passed an order disqualifying the petitioner for 5 years from contesting the elections. Appeal preferred by the petitioner against that order was also dismissed by the Divisional Commissioner. Thus, the instant petition.

The Court, after hearing the parties and considering the facts and circumstances of the case, held that the Collector was not right in passing the order disqualifying the petitioner without first considering the application of the petitioner. Section 14B of the Act provides that the Election Commission may remove the disqualifications as provided under sub-section (1) after recording of reasons. The Court held that the Collector ought to have first considered the application of the petitioner and in view of the Court, the extension of 5 days time for filing of expenses statement should have been provided to the petitioner. Therefore, the order of the Collector was set aside and he was directed to first consider the application of the petitioner and appropriately exercise discretion as granted to him under Section 14B. [Tamjodevi Madarsha Bhandari v. Tahsildar, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 936, order dated 04-05-2018]

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