10 June 2024


Supreme Court

Sangeeta Vs. The State of Maharashtra and Ors.




In the absence of any other method prescribed under the Rules concerned, change of leader has to be in the same democratic process of induction

The Appellant has approached present Court being aggrieved by the judgment and order passed by the High Court, thereby dismissing the writ petition challenging the order passed by the District Collector, whereby the District Collector has granted approval to the selection of Respondent No. 3-Dr. Vandana Dnyaneshwar Murkute as Gatneta (Group Leader) of the Indian National Congress, Shrirampur Panchayat Samiti Party ('INCPS Party').

The very appointment of the Appellant as Gatneta (Party Leader) is on the basis of the resolution of the meeting chaired by the President of the Ahmednagar District INC Party. The decision to remove the Appellant from the post of Gatneta/Party Leader of the INCPS Party and to appoint Respondent No. 3 as Gatneta/Party Leader is also taken in a meeting which was presided over by the President of Ahmednagar District INC Party.

It is pertinent to note that, in the meeting dated 1st March, 2017 itself, the authority to take steps with regard to change of leader was given to the President of the District INC Party. The Appellant therefore cannot be heard to make grievance with regard to the procedure which was followed while removing her as the entry of the Appellant as Gatneta/Party Leader is by following the very same procedure.

The so-called reference to Rules and Regulations under Rule 3(1)(b) of the Maharashtra Local Authorities Members Disqualification Rules, 1987 cannot be stretched to be on par with the Rules and Regulations framed on the basis of any statutory power. The said Rules are not happily worded. It appears from the record that, the Appellant has been the sole draftsman of the so-called Rules and Regulations referable to Rule 3(1)(b) of the said Rules. The Appellant conveniently framed the Rules giving effect to some part of the resolution while ignoring other part thereof.

Present Court has clearly held that, the leader of a municipal party has to be chosen by aghadi or front and not by any outsider. It has been held by this Court that, the change of leader has to be in the same democratic process of induction, in the absence of any other method prescribed under the Rules concerned. It has further been held that, once the birth of a leader in a group is by way of election by the group, the Group Leader thus, elected cannot be replaced otherwise than through the very same process of the election in the group, in the absence of any Rules to the contra. It has been clearly held that, imposition of a Group Leader otherwise than by the democratic process cuts at the roots of the democracy and certainly, it is in violation of the Rules.

This Court upheld the provisions of Section 28 of Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961 which ensured that an elected representative can only stay in power so long as such person enjoys the support of the majority of the elected members of the Zila Panchayat. As soon as such a person loses the confidence of the majority, he becomes unwanted. In a democratic set up, the will of the majority has to prevail.

The Appellant was elected as Gatneta when she enjoyed the support of all the members of INCPS Party. However, after she decided to walk on a different path, she lost the support of majority of the INCPS Party and as such, could not have thrust her leadership on the majority. No doubt, that the said Act and the said Rules are in tune with the provisions contained in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India, so as to prevent horse-trading and maintain purity in the political system but, at the same time, the provisions cannot be interpreted in a manner that one person in minority will thrust himself/herself upon the other members who are in absolute majority. There is no reason to interfere with the view taken by the High Court. Appeal dismissed.

Tags : Appointment Procedure Legality

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