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Allahabad HC rules no-confidence motion can take place with Covid SOPs in place

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New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court has observed that in a democratic setup, where the right to govern depends on the will of the people, the person who has lost the majority cannot be permitted to hold office.

The division bench comprising Justices Shashi Kant Gupta and Piyush Agrawal specifically observed:

“If a representative no longer enjoys the confidence of the people, elected representatives have a right to remove him and he cannot be permitted to remain in power even for a second and has to be immediately replaced by a newly elected representative.”

The petitioner, Tripti Rani, is the Pramukh of the Kotwali Kshetra Panchayat, Bijnor. The petitioner assumed the charge of Pramukh on 29.07.2019. A no-confidence motion was moved against her in accordance with the procedure laid down in Uttar Pradesh Kshetra Panchayat and Zila Panchayat Act, 1961.

Hence, the District Magistrate, Bijnor issued a notice dated August 21, 2020, convening a meeting for consideration of the motion of no-confidence on September 15, 2020.

The petitioner challenged the notice dated August 21 on the ground that since there are about 185 members in the Kotwali Kshetra Panchayat, district Bijnor, they exceeded the number of persons permitted under the guidelines for phased re-opening (unlock-4) issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India on August 29, 2020.

It was contended by the Counsel for the Petitioner that since there are about 185 Members in the Kotwali Kshetra Panchayat, District – Bijnor, they exceed the number of persons permitted under the Guidelines for Phased Re-opening (Unlock-4) issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India on 29.08.2020.

It was further submitted that in view of the aforesaid Guidelines, the proposed meeting for consideration of a no-confidence motion cannot be convened on 15.09.2020 since it would be in violation of the provisions of the Disaster Management Act.

The Court took into account the fact that the Act of 1961 provides for local self-governance where the people of Gaon Sabhas have been given the right to manage their own affairs and perform governmental function through a democratic process, under which they have been given the right to elect a Pradhan and remove him by passing a motion of no confidence. Election and removal by the motion of no-confidence are two important aspects in a democratic set-up for which the Act of 1961 has made ample provisions.

In this context, the Court said: “Democracy is a system of government in which a country’s political leaders are chosen by the people in regular, free, and fair elections. In a democracy, people have a choice between different candidates and parties who want the power to govern. The people are sovereign. They are the highest authority and government is based on the will of the people. Elected representatives at the national and local levels must listen to the people and be responsive to their needs. Thus, the voters have the right to elect their representatives and also criticize and replace them if they do not perform well.

“In view of the above inherent political philosophy and principle, the provision for bringing a no-confidence motion for removing the representatives, has been introduced in the present Act of 1961. The Will of people is supreme. It cannot be lightly interfered with. Under no circumstance can the will of the people be permitted to be frustrated,” 

the court added.

In addition to it, the Court directed that the District Magistrate or his representative, who would be present on the spot, will be the best person to understand the ground reality for holding the proposed no-confidence motion in the best possible manner.

“We hope and trust that he would ensure that all the protocols, as prescribed under the guidelines and norms issued by the state and Central governments and the observations made in this judgment would be followed,”

the Court added.

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Lastly, the Court observed that at a time when the State is reeling from a monstrous pandemic, it is imperative that detailed modalities for holding statutory meetings of local bodies, including those for considering ‘No Confidence Motions’, are put in place and implemented.

In view of the aforesaid discussions, the writ Petition was dismissed.

Read the order here;

WRICA-13665-2020

-India Legal Bureau

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