On 05.06.2020, in Sambaru Vani v. The State of Telangana and Others, the Telangana High Court allowed the writ petition. It granted a period of 15 days to the petitioner to submit his explanation. The explanation is regarding the misuse of the Gram Panchayat funds. Moreover, the Court suspended the power of the petitioner to sign the cheques of Gram Panchayat funds. It will continue until the respondent authority adjudicates the matter. Further, it must pass an order afresh as directed by the Court.
Brief of the Facts
The petitioner is a Sarpanch of Gram Panchayat of Nizamabad District. He deals with the funds of the Gram Panchayat. He has the power to sign the cheques of the Gram Panchayat fund. The allegation is that the petitioner has misused his power and the funds of Gram Panchayat. The respondent passed an order to suspend the petitioner of his post as Sarpanch. This was for a period of six months. The respondent called upon the petitioner to submit his explanation within twenty-four hours.
The petitioner requested a 15 days period to submit a detailed explanation and bills. The respondent did not consider his request and issued the notice. This was done without looking into the lockdown period of two months. The respondent disregarded the mandate of Section 37(5) of the Telangana Panchayat Raj Act, 2018.
The Contention of the Petitioner
The petitioner has already given a preliminary explanation. The petitioner requested for further time of fifteen days for the explanation. Along with the explanation, he will also submit documents in support of his submission. The respondent called upon the petitioner to submit his explanation on 13.05.2020. The respondent passed the impugned order on 15.05.2020. Earlier, the order was of suspending the petitioner from the post of Sarpanch for a period of six months. The respondent authority issued notice without considering this request of the petitioner. The impugned order violates the principles of natural justice.
The Contention of the Respondent
The Government pleader submitted that it would be risky to provide time to the petitioner. The petitioner is the Sarpanch of the Panchayat. Hence, the petitioner could tamper with the records of the Panchayat. Considering the reasonable apprehension, the respondent authority did not accept the request. As a result, the need to grant extra time to the petitioner does not arise. Thus, the impugned order passed by the respondent justifies the action taken.
Observation of the Court
The Court observed that the said time afforded to the petitioner is not a reasonable time. Further, the petitioner sought for grant of another 15 days. However, the respondent authority rejected it. The Court noted that the respondent passed the impugned order without considering the request of the petitioner. Hence, this action violates the principles of natural justice.
Order of the Court
The Court directed the petitioner to submit his explanation to the respondent authority. It also ordered the submission to be on or before 15.06.2020. Moreover, the Court directed that the petitioner would submit relied upon documents as well. The respondent authority would consider the same. Above all, it will pass order afresh after affording an opportunity of hearing the petitioner.
The Court ordered that the petitioner would not deal with the funds of the Gram Panchayat. The Court suspended the power of the petitioner to sign the cheques of the Gram Panchayat fund. This will continue until the respondent authority adjudicates the matter. This will be after passing the order afresh as directed by the Court.
The Court permitted the petitioner to inspect records of Gram Panchayat. This will help him in submitting his explanation. Furthermore, the presence of the District Panchayat Officer will be mandatory during the inspection.
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