Chandigarh April 9, 2011. A division bench of the Punjab & Haryana High Court has set aside the order of the Punjab Government dated 3-6-2010 by which it had removed Sh. Ulfat Rai Sahota from the membership of Municipal Council Ferozepur.
Chief Justice Mr. Ranjan Gogoi and Mr. Justice K.S. Ahluwalia constituted the bench.
Mr. Satya Pal Jain, Senior Advocate with Mr. Dheeraj Jain and Mr. Davesh Moudgil counsel for the petitioner submitted that Mr. Sahota was elected as a member of the Municipal Council Ferozepur in the elections held in June 2008. In the first meeting of the Municipal Council Ferozepur, held on 22-7-2008 a dispute arose about the election of President & Vice-President. Though the petitioner was elected as Vice-President on that date but later on this election was set aside by the Pb. Govt. on the ground that since the members were not administered oath by the Convenor before the election, the election was invalid. However on that date the petitioner, on the asking of the EO of the Committee, signed 3 cheques, which of course were never encashed.
The Punjab Government on 3-6-2010 removed Mr. Sahota from the membership of the council on the ground that by signing these 3 cheques, he had “flagrantly abused his position as a Member of the council”.
Mr. Jain said that on the one hand the Pb. Govt. says that on 22-7-2008, Mr. Sahota had not taken oath, so he could not be elected as the Vice President and quite contrary to it, it has removed Mr. Sahota on the ground that he has “flagrantly abused his position as a member of the house”. He said that if Mr. Sahota was a member on that day, then his election as Vice-President is valid and if he was not, then he cannot be removed from the membership for anything done on that date.
Mr. J.S. Puri, AAG, Punjab and Mr. Naresh Jain, Counsels for the respondents submitted that due procedure was followed by the Pb. Govt before removing him from the membership. They also said that the act of signing three cheques, even before taking oath, amounts to “flagrantly abusing his position as a member of the Committee.”
The judges in their order, which was made available today said, “It is only after an elected member takes oath in the form prescribed by Section 24 that he can enter upon his duties as a member of a Municipal Committee. Admittedly, the said event did not happen in the present case. If that is so, it is difficult to see how Section 16 of the Act which deals with removal of members can have any application to the appellant/writ petitioner. Until and unless oath, as prescribed by Section 24 of the Act, had been administered, the appellant could not be understood to have entered upon his duties as a member of the Municipal Council. If that is so, his actions, however reprehensible and condemnable, cannot be in the capacity of a member of the Committee. What Section 16(1)(e) of the Act contemplates is flagrant abuse by a member of his position as a member of the Committee. It is difficult to see how the said provision can have any application to the present case when the appellant had not even entered the office as a member of the Committee. We, therefore, are of the opinion that the impugned order dated 03-06-2010 cannot be construed to be legally valid and tenable. Therefore we set aside this order ”.