Thursday, February 22, 2024

Gauhati High Court directs petitioners to approach Assam government over irregularity in Sanitation Committee management

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The Gauhati High Court has directed the petitioners to approach the Assam Government with all materials regarding alleged irregularity in the management of Sanitation Committee.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Rashmin Manharbhai Chhaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia closed a PIL filed by the residents of village Ambikapur Part-10 in the district of Cachar, who prayed for the following reliefs: 

“In the aforesaid facts and circumstances it is humbly prayed that this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to admit this petition, call for records, issue rule calling upon the respondents to show causes, as to why, 

(i) a writ in the nature of mandamus shall not be issued directing the respondent authority to dissolve the Panchguri Water Supply and Sanitation Committee with immediate effect which has been running without registration in violation of guidelines formulated by Bye laws of PHE Department, Assam and direct the authorities to take appropriate steps for formation of a new committee as per rules and regulation framed by the Public Health Engineering Department, Cachar, Silchar, and; 

(ii) pass an order to initiate an enquiry through an independent body regarding all the misappropriation and anomalies which are going through under Public Health Engineering Department, Cachar, Sub-Division-II including the Panchguri Water Supply and Sanitation Committee in the name of providing pure and safe drinking water to the poor villagers and on perusal of records may be pleased to make the Rule absolute by passing such other order or orders as your Lordships may deem fit and proper and/or may be pleased to pass any order/orders as this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper.”
M. Bhattacharjee, Additional Senior Government Advocate, Assam has brought on record a Notification dated 4th March, 2020 by which the Government has formulated guidelines for constitution of Gram Panchayat Water & Sanitation Committee and Village Water & Sanitation Committee for implementation of Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Programme. 
It is also contended by the learned Additional Senior Government Advocate that the Users’ Committee is an independent committee and is responsible for managing its own affairs as far as implementation of the scheme is concerned. 

It is further clarified that after introduction of the Jal Jeevan Mission guideline, Implementation of Support Agency (ISA) are awarded the job of    constituting the Users’ Committee in consultation with Panchayat Raj Institution by organizing Gaon Sabha, which will be controlled and looked after by the Panchayat with active and technical and financial support. 

Thus, the Bench does not find that there is any lapse in the constitution of the Panchguri Water Supply and Sanitation Committee. As far as other prayers made in the PIL are concerned, those are based on self assessment of the petitioners which have been denied by the respondent authority. 

“We, however, deem it fit to permit the petitioners to approach the Government with all materials on the allegation which are leveled in the petition regarding alleged irregularity in the management of Sanitation Committee. If the petitioners approach the competent authority, the same shall be looked into by the authorities in accordance with law”, the order reads.

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