HP HC | Creation or bifurcation of Gram Panchayat is essentially a policy matter, falling in the exclusive domain and jurisdiction of the State; Petition dismissed

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Sandeep Sharma, JJ., while dismissing the present petition upon lack of merits said, “A writ of Mandamus can be issued only when there is a legal right that the parties asking for the writ to compel the performance of statutory duties cast upon the authorities.”

 Background

The present petition was filed to seek a writ of mandamus, directing the respondents to consider the issue of creation of bifurcation and re-organization of new Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat, in order to facilitate the development work of villages and ensure necessary facilities to all. Prayer was also sought to grant the said writ on the ground that the population of villages as mentioned under the petition, exceeded 2700 and proper regulation/management is only permissible if the aforementioned residents are uniformly divided.

 Observation

The Court reproduced Section 3 of the Himachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, which reads as hereunder;

Section 3 Declaration of Sabha area -(1) The Government may, by notification, declare any village or group of contiguous villages with a population of not less than one thousand and not more than five thousand to constitute one or more Sabha areas for the purposes of this act and also specify its headquarter:

Provided that in a Scheduled area the Government may by order declare any village or group of contiguous villages with a population of less than one thousand to constitute a

Sabha area:

Provided further that the Government may, after having due regard of the geographical location, lack of means of transport and communication and administrative convenience, declare an area comprising a village or group of contiguous villages having a population either less than one thousand or more than five thousand to constitute a Sabha area.

(2) The Government may, at the request of the Gram Sabha concerned or otherwise, and after previous publication of a proposal by a notification, at any time –

(a) Increase any Sabha area by including within such Sabha area any village or group of villages

(b) Diminish any Sabha area by excluding from such Sabha area any village or group of villages

(c) Alter the headquarter of any Sabha area

(d) Alter the name of any Sabha area

(e) Declare that any area shall cease to be a Sabha area

2-A When on account of the reason that the Sabha area is, during the term of the Gram Panchayat, increased or diminished or ceased under sub-section (2), the increase or diminution or cessation of the Sabha area shall not affect the term of the office bearers of Gram Panchayat, till the expiration of the duration of the Gram Panchayat specified in sub-section (1) of section 120 or its dissolution under section 140 of this Act.

(3) If the whole of the Sabha area is included in a municipality, the Sabha area shall cease to exist and its assets and liabilities shall in the manner prescribed be disposed of.

Reliance was further placed on other recent judgments by this Court, in CWP No. 4602 of 2020 titled Ratti Ram v. State of H.P., CWP No. 4118 of 2020 titled Bihari Lal v. State of H.P. and CWP No. 3999 of 2020 titled Joginder Singh decided on 16-12-2020.

Decision

Dismissing the present petition, the Court said, “…the issue, as raised in this petition, is not justifiable as no mandamus can be sought for bifurcation of Gram Panchayat(s) under Article 226 of the Constitution at the instance of an individual.”[Dharam Pal v. State of HP, 2020 SCC OnLine HP 3094, decided on 18-12-2020]


Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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