In a stern warning to the states against introducing “party politics” in panchayats, the Supreme Court on Friday said any move to amend the Panchayati Raj Act aimed at promoting “groupism” based on the party lines in these institutions of grassroots democracy will not be permitted as it is fraught with the danger of striking at the basic structure of the Constitution.
The strong message to the states came from a bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and C.K. Prasad while lambasting the Badal government in Punjab for bringing an amendment in the Panchayati Raj Act, removing the two years’ embargo on bringing any “no-confidence” motion against panchayat pradhans by its members.
“It is a legislative perversion… It will lead to a dangerous situation. These are democratic institutions at the grassroots, their functioning must not be affected in this manner. This is basic the structure of the Constitution… We don’t know whose wisdom is this (to bring such an amendment),” the Supreme Court bench told Punjab’s additional advocate-general Rupinder Khosla, while sending a strong message to the other states not to contemplate any move to tamper with the panchayati raj laws in a bid to introduce party politics in these local bodies.
The Punjab government had promulgated an ordinance on December 10, 2010 deleting Section 19 of the state’s Panchayati Raj Act, which prohibited bringing a no-confidence motion against the pradhan of a panchayat within two years of his or her election. The two years’ bar was provided to enable the pradhans to function smoothly and protect them from being dislodged due to groupism or party politics.
On the top of it, the Badal government, which subsequently got the Punjab Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2011 passed by the Assembly deleting Section 19 from the act earlier this year, made the amended law applicable retrospectively from July 1, 2010.
The immediate effect of the amendment was that it virtually opened a Pandora’s box as “no-confidence” motions were brought against pradhans of 120 panchayats within six months and it was decried in strongest words by the top court.
However, the amendment was struck down by the Punjab and Haryana high court in a verdict on May 12, holding it as unconstitutional.
The Punjab government on Friday moved the top court against the high court order. Asian Age