HC suspends G.O. on transfer of panchayat secretaries’ functions

‘Order is against the intent of the institution of self-government’

A single judge bench of the High Court comprising Justice B. Devanand issued an interim order placing G.O. Ms. No. 2 under suspension and posted the matter for next hearing after four weeks. Through the G.O. the government sought to transfer certain executive and administrative functions of the panchayat secretaries to village revenue officers (VROs).

Justice Devanand said the court was of the prima facie consideration that the impugned G.O. is against the intent of the ‘institution of self-government’ enshrined in Article 243 of the Constitution and that sarpanches would become puppets in the hands of the government as the G.O. leaves them with no powers.

The G.O. is also against the Directive Principles contained in Article 40, the judge observed, while insisting that the proposed transfer of powers to VROs amounts to government’s interference in the village administration, which is against the spirit of Gram Swaraj.

Advocate-General S. Sriram said the government was directed to file a counter affidavit after four weeks and pointed out that the main contention of the petitioner was that the government cannot delegate the cheque (drawing and disbursement) power from the panchayat secretaries to VROs.

The A-G has earlier argued that the G.O. in question was the policy space of the government and it should be allowed to learn and evolve based on its experiences without the court’s involvement.

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