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Uttarakhand High Court dismisses PIL assailing part of notification which includes village Saliyer in proposed Nagar Panchayat

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The Uttarakhand High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed assailing the part of the Notification dated 01.09.2021, by which Village Saliyer Salhapur, Tehsil Roorkee, District Haridwar, was included in the proposed Nagar Panchayat.

The PIL was filed by one Monika who said that the

Article 243Q of the Constitution of India stipulates as under:

“243Q. Constitution of Municipalities. –

(1) there shall be constituted in every State, –

(a) a Nagar Panchayat (by whatever name called) for a transitional area, that is to say,an area in transition from a rural area to an urban area;

(b) a Municipal Council for a smaller urban area;and

(c) a Municipal Corporation for a larger urban area,

in accordance with the provisions of this Part:

Provided that a Municipality under this clause may not be constituted in such urban area or part thereof as the Governor may, having regard to the size of the area and the municipal services being provided or proposed to be provided by an industrial establishment in that area and such other factors as he may deem fit, by public notification, specify to be an industrial township.

(2) In this article, “a transitional area”, “asmaller urban area” or “a larger urban area” means such area as the Governor may, having regard to the population of the area, the density of the population therein, the revenue generated for local administration,the percentage of employment in non-agricultural activities, the economic importance or such other factors as he may deem fit, specify by public notification for the purposes of this Part.”

In terms of the aforesaid Article, the impugnedNotification has been issued including Village Saliyer Salhapur in the Nagar Panchayat area. The petitioner is aggrieved by inclusion of the aforesaid village in theNagar Panchayat area.

The case of the petitioner is that the petitioner had objected to the proposed inclusion of the aforesaid village in the Nagar Panchayat area, in the light ofGovernment Order dated 10.09.1986, on the premise that 60% of its population is engaged in agriculture. The Objection of the petitioner was examined by aCommittee of officers, which was chaired by the DistrictMagistrate, Haridwar. The said Committee found favour with the objections raised by the petitioner, and recommended exclusion of the aforesaid village from the proposed Nagar Panchayat area. In Spite of said recommendation, the impugned Notification dated01.09.2021, included village Saliyer Salhapur as a part of Nagar Panchayat area by which petitioner is aggrieved.

Upon issuance of show cause notice, the respondent-State has filed its counter-affidavit in which ii is stated :

“8. That the contents of paragraph no. 6 of the said petition are admitted insofar as they are matter of record. It is imperative to state that all the objections received in furtherance of interim notification dated26.02.2021, were duly disposed of by the Committee Under the Chairmanship of District Magistrate,Haridwar, which was duly forwarded to the StateGovernment. While disposing of the said objections theCommittee was of the opinion that as per the standards laid down in the G.O. dated 10.09.1986, the population of the proposed area was as per the standards but 40%of the residents of Village Saliyer Salhapur were engaged in jobs and business and remaining 60% of the residents were still dependent on agriculture, henceforth the said reason the standards laid down in the above G.O. could not be fulfilled. Therefore, the committee submitted its opinion that the objections are liable to be admitted. However, the matter was placed before the Hon’ble Cabinet, wherein due relaxation of the standards laid down in G.O. dated 10.09.1986 wasduly granted and ultimately impugned notification dated01.09.2021 was issued by the State Government for creating the Nagar Panchayat, Rampur. The petitioner cannot be granted benefit of judgment dated23.07.2019, passed by the Hon’ble High Court because the operation of the said judgment and order has been stayed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court vide order dated23.09.2019, passed in SLP No. 22176/2019,22348/2019 and 22227/2019. Copy of order dated23.09.2019, passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court inSLP No. 22176/2019, 22348/2019 and 22227/2019 is being marked and filed as Annexure No. A-2 to thisaffidavit.”

The submission of Siddhartha Singh, counsel for the petitioner, is that the petitioner’s objection has not been considered and the only ground taken by the respondents in their counter-affidavit is that the Cabinet Has considered the matter, and in pursuance of theCabinet decision, the impugned Notification dated01.09.2021 has been issued for creation of the NagarPanchayat, Rampur.

The counsel for the petitioner has also placed reliance on Section 4(2) of the UttarakhandMunicipalities Act, 1916, which provides for inviting objection or suggestion in writing to the draft proposed,before notifying any area, inter alia, as a NagarPanchayat.

The submission of the petitioner is that the purpose of Section 4(2) is to enable objections to beinvited and it is, therefore, necessary that the objections are also considered. However, in the present case,according to the petitioner, the petitioner’s objection has not been considered.

While considering the PIL , the Division Bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari did not find any merit in the Petition.

On perusal of the counter-affidavit the Bench noted that thepetitioner’s objections, which were examined by theCommittee, were considered by the Cabinet, which decided to include the petitioner’s village in the NagarPanchayat, Rampur. There is nothing to suggest that the petitioner’s objection, or even the recommendation made by the Committee, chaired by the DistrictMagistrate, Haridwar, were bound to be accepted by theGovernment. The decision has been taken at the highest level, i.e., in a Cabinet meeting, and it is the prerogative of the State Government to create, interalia, another Panchayat, while including a particular village.

The High Court was therefore not inclined to interfere with the impugned Notification.

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