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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Punjab and Haryana HC sets aside suspension of panches in conflict with builders

The bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal said, “...continuance of the order of suspension dated January 28, would not be in the interest of the residents of the village and, therefore, it is set aside...”

By: Express News Service | Mohali |
June 9, 2021 2:50:08 am
The justice said that the suspension of the office bearers cannot be kept pending and it is only an interim stage in order to safeguard the interest of the Gram Panchayat, before a final decision.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court set aside the suspension order of the elected office bearers of Gram Panchayat Saini Majra.

The bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal said, “…continuance of the order of suspension dated January 28, would not be in the interest of the residents of the village and, therefore, it is set aside…”

The petitioners, Labh Singh and others, elected representatives of the Gram Panchayat, Sainimajra, were suspended by the Director-cum-Secretary, department of Village Development and Panchayat, Punjab, from the respective offices of Sarpanch and Panches in exercise of powers under Section 20 of Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994.

The petitioners through counsel, Advocate Sanjiv Patiyal pleaded that two colonisers, namely ‘Altus Space Builders’ as well as ‘Omax’, purchased land in patches interspersed with villagers’ agriculture farm land for construction of residential colonies but thereafter started barricading the common passages, which resulted in a conflict as the villagers faced difficulty in reaching their farm land. The villagers thus filed a civil suit against the colonisers in which the trial court granted injunction.

Thereafter, on the influence of builders, the Gram Panchayat passed a resolution on November 1, 2017, requesting the government for grant of compensation of land under passages which has come in the mega project being developed by developers. Another resolution, offering to acquire land through GMADA, was passed. Subsequently, the new office bearer namely the petitioners came to be elected and the body changed its decision. However, in order to facilitate the sale of land belonging to the Gram Panchayat, an Administrator was appointed for a period and two sale deeds of the land were executed. Thereafter, the officials have been making efforts to even usurp the amount of sale consideration.

The justice said that the suspension of the office bearers cannot be kept pending and it is only an interim stage in order to safeguard the interest of the Gram Panchayat, before a final decision. He said, on reading Section 20, it is apparent that before passing the order of suspension, the Director must be satisfied that such officials appears to be guilty of misconduct or whose continuance in the office is undesirable in public interest and in the facts of the case, the state has failed to draw attention of the Bench to any such action on part of the office bearers.

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