Panchayat Samiti members have right to vote on the ‘No Confidence Motion’

Supreme Court: The Bench of AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi, JJ held that the provisions in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Panchayats) Regulation, 1994 under consideration in no way exclude the MP, muchless expressly, from participating in the special meeting and vote on the ‘No Confidence Motion’. As a matter of fact, the provision in the Regulation under consideration is an inclusive one and explicitly permits all (total) members to participate in the special meeting and vote on the ‘No Confidence Motion against the Pramukh or Up­Pramukh, as the case may be.

The bench was posed with the question relating to

  • the inclusion or exclusion of the Member of the House of Parliament (MP) representing the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, who is also an ex­officio member of the Panchayat Samiti, for reckoning the quorum of a special meeting regarding motion of no confidence against the Pramukh of the Little Andaman Panchayat Samiti, it noticed,
  • whether he/she can exercise his/her vote on the ‘No Confidence Motion’ within the meaning of the provisions of Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Panchayats) Regulation, 1994 and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Panchayats Administration Rules) 1997.

Stating that it is a well-established position that the right to elect, and including the right to be elected and continue on the elected post, is a statutory right, the bench said,

“neither Article 243C nor the Regulation made by the State Legislature or the Rules framed thereunder expressly exclude the other members of the Panchayat Samiti referred to in Section 107(3) of the Regulation from exercising their vote on a ‘Motion of No Confidence’.”

The Court said that the category of persons referred to in Section 107(3) of the Regulation are also, in one sense, elected representative (though not by direct election from territorial constituencies in the Panchayat area) and, therefore, their participation and voting on the ‘No Confidence Motion’ has   been expressly permitted by the Regulation and the Rules. That cannot be undermined on the basis of the common law principle, so long as the governing statutory provisions are in the field.

“if a person has been elected to an office through democratic process and when such person  loses the confidence of the representatives who elected him, then those representatives should   necessarily have a democratic right to remove such an office bearer in whom they do not have confidence,will not take the matter any further in the wake of express provisions contained in the Regulation of 1994 and the Rules of 1997.”

[Seema Sarkar v. Executive Officer, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 639, decided on 01.05.2019]

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