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GURBHAG SINGH. versus JAGROOP SINGH & ORS.

High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh

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Gurbhag Singh. v. Jagroop Singh & Ors. - FAO-4865-2006 [2006] RD-P&H 12562 (14 December 2006)

F.A.O. No.4865 of 2006.

In the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh.

F.A.O.No.4865 of 2006.

Date of decision:22.12.2006.

Gurbhag Singh.

...Appellant.

Versus

Jagroop Singh and others.

...Respondents.

...

Coram: Hon'ble Mr. Justice S. N. Aggarwal.

...

Present: Mrs.Anju Arora Advocate for the appellant.

Mr.S.C.Pathela, Advocate for the respondents.

...

Judgment.

S. N. Aggarwal, J.

Elections for the office of Sarpanch of Gram Panchayat of village Lakhiwal,Tehsil Budhlada, District Mansa were to take place on 29.6.2003 for which nomination papers were filed by Gurbhag Singh appellant, Jagroop Singh, respondent No.1 and Gurbachan Kaur,respondent No.2. The nomination papers of Jagroop Singh,respondent No.1 were rejected. However, the elections had taken place on 29.6.2003 as already scheduled in which Gurbhag F.A.O. No.4865 of 2006.

Singh,appellant and Gurbachan Kaur,respondent No.2 had participated.

After the votes polled were counted, it was found that Gurbhag Singh appellant had secured more votes than Gurbachan Kaur,respondent No.2. Accordingly, Gurbhag Singh,appellant was declared elected.

Jagroop Singh, respondent No.1 filed an Election Petition challenging the rejection of his nomination papers. It was contested by Gurbhag Singh,appellant who took the plea that Jagroop Singh, respondent was in an unauthorised possession of the land owned by the panchayat and,therefore, he was ineligible from contesting the elections of Sarpanch of Gram Panchayat of the village under Section 208(1)(k) of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act,1994 (in short PPR Act).

Issues were framed.

The parties led the evidence.

After analysing the evidence,the Election Tribunal held that Jagroop Singh was not in illegal possession of any property owned by the Gram Panchayat of village Lakhiwal and,therefore, the Election Petition was accepted and the election of Gurbhag Singh, appellant as Sarpanch of Gram Panchayat of village Lakhiwal was set aside.

Hence, the present appeal by Gurbhag Singh,appellant.

Before we deal with the evidence lead by the parties, reference may be made to Section 208(1)(k) of PPR Act. It reads as under:-

"208. Disqualification from Membership.- (1) A person F.A.O. No.4865 of 2006.

shall be disqualified for being chosen as and for being a member of a Panchayat, if,-

(a) to (j) .. ... ... ...

(k) is in unauthorised occupation of property belonging to any local authority;or

(l) to (o) .. ... ... .."

As per this provision, therefore, if it is found that any person was in an unauthorised occupation of the property belonging to the local authority i.e. Gram Panchayat, in this case, then he would be dis-qualified from contesting the elections as Sarpanch or Panch of the Gram Panchayat of that village.

Jamabandi for the year 2000-2001 (Annexure P1) produced on the file clearly shows that Khewat No.171, Khatauni No.377, Khasra Nos.47//15(4-8) was owned by the Gram Panchayat but in the column of cultivation it is shown to be under the cultivation of Jagroop Singh,respondent No.1 son of Joginder Singh, Gair Marusi Makbooja Malkan and in column No.9 of the Jamabandi, it was mentioned Jumgi Gair Marusi Bawaja Tabadla.

The submission of learned counsel for Jagroop Singh respondent was that this land had come to respondent No.1 in exchange for the land measuring 4 Kanals 8 Marlas comprised in Khatauni Nos.377,378, Khewat No.110, Khasra Nos.50//1/1 (2-0) and 3/2(2-8) which was given by him to the Panchayat for the purpose of water F.A.O. No.4865 of 2006.

works and the same was in possession of the village panchayat. A plea was also taken that this exchange of land had taken place in the year

1977. The Girdawari of the same was done under the order dated 30.3.1999 passed by the Revenue Officer. Therefore, at the time of election on 29.6.2003, Jagroop Singh was not in illegal possession of the panchayat land.

This submission has been considered. If the transfer had taken place in the year 1977, then Gram Panchayat would not have been shown to be the owner of the land comprised in Khasra Nos 47//15. Rather this land would have been shown under the ownership of Jagroop Singh but this land continues to be shown as owned by the Gram Panchayat which is shown to be in possession of Jagroop Singh.

This circumstance cannot be ignored.

The learned counsel for the appellant made reference to Rule 5 of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Rules,1964 which deals with the exchange of land by the village Gram Panchayat.

It reads as under:-

"5. Exchange of land.{Sections 5 and 15(2)(f)}-A Panchayat, if it is of opinion that it is necessary so to do for the benefit of the inhabitants of the village may with the prior approval of the Government,transfer any land in shamilat deh by exchange with the land of an equivalent value:

F.A.O. No.4865 of 2006.

(Provided that where the land is required, in connection with the Integrated Rural Development Programme sponsored by the Government the Panchayat may,with the approval of the Collector, transfer any land in shamilat deh by exchange with the land of an equivalent value.)"

Therefore, the exchange of land by village Gram Panchayat has to take place with the prior approval of the Government concerned, but, in the present case, no such step appears to have been taken.If any such procedure had been followed, then Gram Panchayat would not have been shown to be the owner of the land in the revenue record.

Then the ownership of this land would have been shown in the name of Jagroop Singh in the Jamabandi. It means,therefore, that the alleged arrangement had been made by the Gram Panchayat with Jagroop Singh,respondent No.2 without following procedure of law.

Therefore, this land was in illegal possession of Jagroop Singh.

Not only this, some evidence was also led by the appellant that the house of Jagroop Singh, respondent was also constructed on the land owned by the Gram Panchayat. No document was placed on the file to show if any exchange of land had taken place between Jagroop Singh,respondent and the Gram Panchayat in accordance with law. After all,why Jagroop Singh would construct his house in the land F.A.O. No.4865 of 2006.

owned by the Gram Panchayat and if he has given some land in exchange, whether that exchange was in the interest of the village community or of the Gram Panchayat, has also not been proved and whether it was in accordance with the procedure laid down under the Act and the Rules is also not proved. It also shows that the house of Jagroop Singh,respondent is also constructed unauthorisedly in the land owned by the Gram Panchayat.

Obviously, therefore, Jagroop Singh was disqualified from contesting panchayat elections.

Otherwise also, Gurbagh Singh had taken the plea in the written reply filed in the Election Petition before the Election Tribunal that Jagroop Singh, Election Petitioner was a covering candidate and in fact his wife Gurbachan Kaur was the real contestant against Gurbhag Singh, appellant. Obviously, therefore, Jagroop Singh and his wife Gurbachan Kaur both would not have contested the election.

Gurbachan Kaur contested elections against Gurbhag Singh appellant even after the rejection of nomination papers filed by her husband Jagroop Singh. Since Jagroop Singh was a covering candidate only,therefore, he was to withdraw his nomination after the nomination papers filed by his wife Gurbachan Kaur were held to be legal and valid and when she was permitted to contest elections against Gurbhag Singh,appellant In real sense, therefore, the rejection of nomination papers of Jagroop Singh has not caused any damage to F.A.O. No.4865 of 2006.

said Jagroop Singh as he was merely a covering candidate. These papers were filed by him only to ensure that if the nomination papers filed by his wife Gurbachan Kaur were rejected,then he will be available in the field to give a tough fight to the appellant. Therefore, the real contest was between Gurbachan Kaur respondent and Gurbhag Singh appellant.

Keeping in view the discussion held above, it is held that Jagroop Singh was disqualified from contesting elections as Sarpanch of Gram Panchayat of village Lakhiwal as he was in unauthorised possession of the land owned by the Gram Panchayat and secondly he being a covering candidate was to withdraw his nomination after the nomination papers filed by his wife Gurbachan Kaur were found to be legal and valid and after she was permitted to contest elections against Gurbhag Singh,appellant. In real sense,the rejection of nomination papers of Jagroop Singh has not caused any vacuum in the election process.

Accordingly, the impugned order dated 3.10.2006 passed by the Election Tribunal is set aside and the Election Petition filed by Jagroop Singh is dismissed. As a result, this appeal succeeds and the election of Gurbhag Singh appellant is upheld.

December 22,2006. ( S. N. Aggarwal )

Jaggi Judge

F.A.O. No.4865 of 2006.


Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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