Thursday, March 25, 2010

‘Violent’ persons cannot remain sarpanch: HC

Ahmedabad: Gujarat High Court has observed that people indulging in act of violence cannot hold post of sarpanch.

“It would be a travesty of ideals of local self government, if a person can continue to head the village panchayat while he remains in jail in connection with offences registered against him,” Justice DH Waghela observed in an order suspending sarpanch of Jagudan village in Mehsana district.

As per the case details, Babubhai Patel, sarpanch of Jagudan, was sent to judicial custody by court because he thrashed one Gopal Patel after summoning him to panchayat office last year. An FIR was lodged against the sarpanch, and he had to remain in jail for 35 days. Following this, the district development officer suspended Patel for his gesture terming it as ‘moral turpitude’. However, Patel was reinstated in the office by additional development commissioner.
The sarpanch’s reinstatement led the complainant to file a petition in the high court through advocate Shakeel Qureshi. Justice Waghela heard the case at length and quashed the additional development commissioner’s order by terming it “completely perverse”, which needs to be “deprecated”.
The judge upheld the DDO’s decision of suspending the sarpanch observing that in such cases, its imperative for authorities to suspend them immediately. Criticising the sarpanch’s act of indulging in violence and the authorities’ decision to retain him on the post, the high court reminded the officers and politicians of high values that are behind the institution of the panchayati raj.
“It must be remembered that panchayati raj institutions are accorded a place of pride in our Constitution as unit of local self-governance, and fundamental duties of every citizen include the following noble ideals that inspired the freedom struggle and abjuring violence,” the judge wrote in his order. The court also observed that the standard “has to be higher and not lower for public life”.

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