1. This Letters Patent Appeal arises out of an order upholding Section 3(1) of Punjab Municipal Corporation Law (Extension of Chandigarh) Act, 1994 (hereinafter referred as '1994 Corporation Act'), Section 1(2) of Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as 'Capital Act') and the Notification dated 27.7.1994, specifying the territorial area of Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh, as well as extension of Capital Act to Union Territory of Chandigarh, where the existence of gram sabhas and gram panchayats ceased and thereby further vesting gram sabhas properties in the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh.
2. Broadly-speaking, same Notifications were challenged in civil writ petition No. 4701 of 1995 by the residents of Notified Area Committee, Mani Majra on the similar grounds. The principal questions of law raised in the civil writ petition and in the Letters Patent Appeal and other civil writ petitions Nos. 3218 of 1989, 754 of 1993 & 17778, 4423 and 4666 of 1994 can fairly be regarded as common. This Letters Patent Appeal, CWP No. 4710/1994 and other writ petitions are disposed of by this Judgment. Facts stated in the impugned Judgment in the Letters Patent Appeal, emerge as thus:-
3. Punjab Gram Panchayat Act, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as 1952 Punjab Act') was extended to Union Territory of Chandigarh on 10.1.1993. Elections to the gram panchayats were held for the term to expire some time in 1998. In conformity with the object of Seventy-third Constitutional Amendment for taking democracy to the grassroots, 1952 Punjab Act was repealed by Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 (hereinafter referred to as '1994 Panchayati Raj Act'). Notified Area Committee of Mani Majra was constituted as far back as in April, 1972 under the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911 (hereinafter referred to as '1911 Municipal Act') which was applicable to Union Territory of Chandigarh. In the year 1976, Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976 (hereinafter referred to as '1976 Municipal Corporation Act') was enacted, which was extended to Union Territory of Chandigarh as well. Later, by enacting 1994 Corporation Act, 1976 Corporation Act was extended to Chandigarh. Municipal Corporation for the Union Territory of Chandigarh was constituted. Gram Panchayats of Badheri, Buterala and part of Notified Area Committee, Mani Majra ceased to exist. The constitution of the Corporation, ceasure of the gram panchayats as well as part of Notified Area Committee of Mani Majra were challenged by way of civil writ petitions, inter alia on the grounds: (1) By constitution of the Corporation, the five-year term of the petitioners to gram panchayat had been curtailed in violation of principles of natural justice i.e. petitioners' civil rights were adversely affected without granting an opportunity of hearing to them. Thus, the constitution of the Corporation is void. (2) Effecting ceasure of gram panchayats amounts to dissolution thereof and thus is violative of Section 15(2) and 211 of 1994 of Panchayati Raj Act, read with Article 243(N) of the Constitution of India. Dissolution of gram panchayats can only be effected by a resolution of Legislature. There could not be a curtailment of term of gram Panchayats or that of its members. (3) The Panchayats cannot be deprived of their properties without compensation and without framing rules for disposal thereof. The same could not have been vested in the Corporation as it amounts to violation of Article 31(A) of the Constitution of India. (4) Section 3(1) of the 1994 Corporation Act and Section 1(2) of the Capital Act are ultra vires the Constitution of India because of conferring and exercise of unbridled and excessive legislative power by way of delegated legislative power without providing any policy or guidelines for its exercise.
4. Before culling out the basic issues argued in civil writ petitions, there being pari materia, it would be expedient to notice the broad relevant facts as have emerged from various writ petitions, which are as follows. Gram Sabha areas were declared and notified under 1952 Punjab Act. Elections to the gram panchayats were announced in January, 1993. Thereafter on or before January 12,1993, various gram sabha areas, as referred to in the writ petitions, were declared to be Notified Areas under the Municipal Act, 1911. Resultantly, the gram sabhas and thereby, gram panchayats ceased to exist qua the Notified Area so constituted. Notifications constituting the Notified Areas were impugned inter alia on the ground:
(1) The Notifications constituting Notified Areas are violative of principles of natural justice, as neither any opportunity of hearing was provided nor any objections were invited from the residents. (2) There was no publication made in the locality or in the area, as envisaged in the Municipal Act, 1911. (3) No rules for disposal of panchayat lands or vesting of the same in the Notified Areas were enacted.(4) The village common land, which either vested in the gram panchayats or in the proprietors in view of the various provisions of the Gram Panchayat Act, 1952, Village Common Land Act and East Punjab Consolidation of Holdings Act, vested in the Notified Areas. Thus, gram panchayats were deprived of their land in violationor Article 31 of the Constitution of India, particularly the panchayal shops could not be vested in the Notified Areas in the absence of any provisions vesting the land or other properties in the Notified Areas. (4) Declaration of the Notified Areas is arbitrary, without application of mind and is in violation of Municipal Act as it was neither found nor the authorities came to the conclusions as to how the impugned arrangement had become necessary. Declaration is against the Act and on ex-traneous considerations. The respondents did not take note of the fact that Notified Areas were being constituted of small villages which were mostly dependent on agriculture. (5) The respondents also did not spell out the matters either in Notified Areas or otherwise, on which funds of Municipality could be spent prior to its declaration as Notified Area. (6) In 1978 too, the Area was declared as Notified Area Committee and after the Committee's failure to function, the old system was reverted to. (7) Declaration of Notified Area is in violation of the principle and the object of taking democracy to the grassroots. It is only for the extraneous considerations of suitability or desirability for Congress MLAs who did not enjoy and hold over the affairs of the locality, the methodology of declaration of Notified Area was resorted to, in order to deprive the gram panchayats of their democratic rights. (8) No cancellation of said areas was made before the declaration of the Notified Area. (9) Constitution of the Notified Area is violative of Section 241 of the Municipal Act, which envisages villages to the agricultural villages and there is no such declaration in the Notifications.
5. The basic rather the very first and principal question raised in the Letters Patent Appeal and civil writ petitions, which can conveniently be termed as common question, in view of the facts stated above, is, whether the constitution of Municipal Corporation or specifying the territorial jurisdiction or area in which Corpora' on is to function or the declaration or constitution of Notified Area is a legislative power or function and its delegation is unbridled, excessive and without guidelines or policy, which is quite essential for delegation of legislative function.
6. At this stage, it would be expedient to notice the provisions of Section 3 of the Corporation Act which runs thus:-
"3. Declaration of area to be municipal area.
(1) For the purposes of this Act, the Administration shall, by Notification, specify such territorial area of the Union Territory of Chandigarh to be the municipal area of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh.
(2) The Administration may, from time to time, after consultation with the Corporation, by notification, alter the limit specified under Sub-section (1) so as to include therein or to exclude therefrom such area as may be specified in the notification. The Corporation shall send its views to the Administrator within a period of three months of the date on which it is first consulted.
(3) The power to issue notification under Sub-section (2) shall be subject to the condition of previous publication.
(4) When the limits specified under Sub-section (1) are altered so as to include therein any area, this Act and, except as the Administrator direct, all rules, notifications, bye-laws, orders, directions and powers made, issued or conferred and all taxes and fees imposed under this Act and in force throughout the area specified under Sub-section (2) shall apply to such included area."
Punjab Panchayati Raj Act provides for establishment and constitution of gram sabha, gram sabha area and gram panchayat under the said scheme of the Act. The relevant provisions coming for consideration for answering the questions raised run thus:-
"2(Y)" Gram Sabha" means a body consisting of persons registered as voters inthe electoral rolls of the area of Gram Panchayats, constituted Under Section 3 of the Act;
(z) Gram Sabha area" means territorial area of the Gram Sabha;
(za) "Gram Panchayat area" means an institution of self-government for a gram sabha area constituted Under Section 9."
"3. Establishment of Gram Sabha areas-
(1) The State Government may, by notification, declare any village or group of contiguous villages with a population of not less than two hundred to constitute a Gram Sabha area:"
(2) That the State Government may, by notification, include any area or exclude any area from gram sabha area.
Sub-Section (3) of Section 3 of the Panchayati Raj Act dealing with the properties of the gram panchayats provides that the area of a gram sabha "may either included in any other gram sabha area..." Sub-section (4) of Section 3 provides that in the eventuality "of the gram sabha area is included in an urban estate to which the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911 or the Punjab, Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, are applicable or in a city, municipality, cantonment, or Notified Area under any Law for the time being in force, the gram sabha and the gram panchayat for that area shall cease to exist and the assets and liabilities of the gram panchayat shall be disposed of in the prescribed manner.
Section 4 provides for the constitution of gram sabhas which runs thus:-
"Constitution of Gram Sabhas.
(1) The State Government may, by notification establish a Gram Sabha by name for every area declared as Gram Sabha area Under Section 3."It further provides that every voter registered in the gram sabha area shall be member of the gram sabha. After taking care of the functions of the gram sabha, Section 10 provides the constitution of gram panchayat for every gram sabha and authorises it to acquire, hold, administer and transfer property, movable or immovable, subject to restrictions under any law. In the scheme of the Act, the term of office of the gram panchayat has been provided by Section 15 which runs thus:-
"(1) Every Gram Panchayat unless dissolved earlier under this Act, shallcontinue for a term of five years from the date of its first meeting.
(2) No amendment of any law for the time being in force shall have the effect of causing dissolution of a Gram Panchayat which is functioning immediately before such amendment, till the expiration of its duration specified in Sub-section (1).
(3) An election to constitute a Gram Panchayat shall be completed."
(a) before the expiration of term of duration specified in Sub-section (1);
(b) before the expiry of period of six months from the date of its dissolution: Provided that where the remainder of the period for which the dissolved Gram panchayat would have continued is less than six months, it shall not be necessary to hold any election under this clause for constituting the Gram Panchayat for such period.
(4) A Gram Panchayat constituted upon the dissolution of a Gram Panchayat before the expiration of its duration, shall continue only for remainder of the period for which the dissolved Gram Panchayat would have continued under Sub-section (1) had it not been so dissolved.
Since 1994 Panchayati Raj Act was enacted and came into force in 1994, the legislation in order to protect the freedom of the panchayats functioning under the 1952 Gram Panchayat Act, provides by Section 211 of the 1994 Panchayati Raj Act the continuation of the existing panchayats. Provision in verbatim runs as thus:-
"211. Continuation of existing panchayats. All the panchayats existing immediately before the commencement of this Act shall continue till expiration of their duration specified under the existing laws unless sooner dissolved by a resolution passed to that effect by the Legislative Assembly of the State of Punjab."
In order to take democracy to the grassroots in conformity with the Directive Principles of State Policy, Article 243(E) provides that every panchayat unless sooner dissolved under any law for the time being in force, shall continue for five years. Section 211 of the Panchayati Raj Act is pari materia with Article 243(E) of the Constitution of India vide which provision has been made prohibiting the amendment of any law in force, effecting or causing dissolution of panchayats functioning before such an amendment till the expiration of its duration. Articles 243(N) protected the laws relating to the Panchayats as they existed subject to enactment of the Acts relating to Panchayats. It further protected the Panchayats from dissolution except by a resolution of the Legislative Assembly.
7. The Hon'ble Judge came to the conclusion that the constitution of the Corporation is a legislative Act. Ceasure of the gram sabha and the gram panchayat is a distinct concept than the dissolution envisaged under Section 211 of the Panchayati Raj Act and Article 243 (E) and (N) of the Constitution. It was further found that the principles of audi alterm partem i.e. the principle of natural justice cannot be invoked with respect to legislation. Non-framing of the rules for the disposal of the gram panchayats' properties is of no consequence as gram sabha area having merged into the municipal' area of the Corporation or the Notified Area, all its assets and liabilities would deem to have vested in the Corporation in terms of Section 525 of the Corporation Act.
8. It is well-established that legislative function in laying the policy or the act of enacting a law is primarily an act of Parliament or a Legislative Assembly through the process of which different types of laws are made for the public to conduct their affairs in conformity with the Constitution. Legislation is quite essential for the rule of law to prevail in the society. The legislative functions involve enactment of laws determining the structure, powers and the public authorities regulating the conduct of a person or persons. The Constitution of India vests the power of legislation in Parliament or Legislative Assembly.
9. With the complexity of modern life, the rule of law permeating every sphere of human life, the requirements of administrative functioning, non-availability of expertise or time, it has become hard for the legislatures to cope up with all eventualities and thus, delegation of legislative functioning has come to stand as a necessary con-commitant in discharge of legislative functions.
10. As consistently and precedently accepted in innumerable judicial pronouncements leaving to the administration or the executive the question as to when and under which conditions the law shall apply, which undoubtedly is a legislative act, i gives rise to what is known as 'Conditional Legislation', which is being equated with the concept of delegated legislation. While dealing with the question whether the principle of natural justice would apply to such a conditional or delegated legislation, it was observed that establishment of a Corporation under the Act is a legislative process indeed and thus is not subject to the principle of natural justice. The Court could only examine whether the statutory provisions have been complied with and would not say any more. It was observed that it is not the format which is important but the nature, which is in fact, plainly legislative.
11. In R.K. Porwal v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1981 SC 1127, while considering the legislation delegating the power to the Market Committee to establish and re-establish market yard under the Maharashtra Agricultural Produce (Marketing and Regulation) Act, the Hon'ble Supreme Court observed that changing of plots of market yard or declaration by notification of the Government that certain plots would be market yard for a market area, consequent to which certain statutory provisions spring into action and certain statutorily prescribed consequences follow forthwith is a legislative process and is a legislative function. We may hasten to add that Section 5 of the Maharashtra Agricultural Produce (Marketing and Regulation) Act is pari materia with the present provisions under consideration.
12. In The Tulsipur Sugar Co. Ltd. v. The Notified Area Committee, Tulsipur, A.I.R. 1980 SC 882, the Hon'ble Supreme Court observed that declaration of geographical area into town area is a legislative act in nature because the application of the rest of the provisions are dependent on such a declaration.
13. In The Registrar of Co-operative Societies and another v. K. Kunjabmu and others, A.I.R. 1980 SC 350, the Hon'ble Supreme Court took notice of the necessity of the activity of delegated or subordinate or conditional legislation and observed that since the Parliament and the State Legislature are not expert bodies and specialists who are skilled in the area of discovering the aspirations and expectations and knowing the limits to the patience and the acquiescence and the articulation of the views of the people whom they represent, they function best when they concern themselves with general principles, broad objectives and fundamental issues instead of technical and situational intricacies which are better left to better equipped full time expert executive bodies and specialist public servants. Parliament and the State Legislatures have neither the time nor the expertise to be involved in details and circumstances. Nor can parliament and the State Legislatures visualise and provide for new, unforeseen and unpredictable situations arising from the complexity of modern life and the ingenuity of modern man. Innumerable instances can be added where the delegated functions like providing for the exemption from the applicability of law, fixation of freight or applicability of specific provisions in a specific area in the course of legislative functioning, are legislative.
14. In our considered view, the provisions of Section 3 of the Corporation Act reproduced in the earlier part of the judgment are pari materia with the provisions of U.P. Town Area Act whereby the State was authorised to declare any town, village, suburb, bazaar to be a town area and to define its limits, to include or exclude an area, and have been held to be legislative functions in character. The observations made in verbatim run thus :-
"The power of the Stale Government to make declaration Under Section 3 of the Act is legislative in character because the application of the rest of the provisions to the geographical area which it declares as town area is dependent upon such declaration. Section 3 is in the nature of conditional legislation."
15. In Basant Kumar Sarkar and others, v. Eagle Rolling Mills Ltd. and others, AIR 1964 SC 1260 when the Hon'ble Supreme Court was dealing with the provision authorising the Central Government to bring into force the Act from the date it was notified is a case of conditional legislation, dealing with the question of excessive delegation, has observed that in the very nature of things, it would have been impossible for legislature to decide in what area and in respect of what factory Employees' State Insurance should be introduced. Introduction in phases was essential. It has to be left to the discretion of the appropriate Government. Thus, it was not held to be an excessive delegation.
16. Learned counsel for the appellant relied on Baldev Singh and others v. State of Himachal Pradesh and others, AIR 1987 SC 1239 to contend that declaration of a particular area as Notified Area under the Act is an administrative decision. Learned counsel for the appellant further relied on In Re.Article 143, Constitution of India, etc, AIR (38) 1951 SC 332, to support his submissions.
17. In view of the observations and the authoritative pronouncements referred to above and consistently and precedently accepted norms, we are of the considered view that providing for and authorising the administration for declaration of the area to be the Municipal Area, that too as a one-time act, by no stretch of reasoning or logic, can be said to be an administrative act. We are of the considered view that it is a legislative act, at the most, in legal phraseology, it can be termed a conditional legislation, which, with the passage of time, has come to be accepted as a delegated legislation. There is no dispute that legislature can constitute Corporation. Which in fact has been done in the facts and circumstances of the present case. Only function left to be delegated was to prescribe the territorial area of the Corporation which in our view, is a sequel or a natural corollary of the legislative act constituting a Corporation, which was delegated to the designated administrative agency to carry out the object of the Act.
18. Learned counsel for the appellant vehemently argued that the delegation to specify by notification the territorial area of the Union Territory of Chandigarh to be the Municipal area of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh is an excessive delegation inasmuch as the Act does not provide for any guidelines and confer unbridled excessive delegated legislative power. We find no force in the submissions made by learned counsel for the appellant inasmuch as the scheme of the Act by it- self provides for the guidelines. Otherwise too, it is a one-time act. Later, for expansion or to include the area therein or to exclude the areas therefrom, appropriate checks and balances have been provided Under Section 3(2), 3, 4 etc. of the Act. By i authorising the administration to specify the territorial area for the municipal area of the Municipal Corporation cannot be termed to be excessive delegation, especially in view of the observations by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Tulsipur Sugar Co. Ltd.'s case (supra) and AIR 1990 SC 261. We are unable to persuade ourselves, that in view of the observations made in Re.Article 143, Constitution of India etc. (supra) to draw an inference that the delegation was excessive or suffers from any vice of excessive, unbridled, unchannelised delegation, which amounts to abdication of legislative function in favour of the administration.
19. At this stage, we refer to the judgments cited above by learned counsel for the appellant, viz., M/s Vee Kay Oils Pvt. Ltd. v. The State of Punjab, (1994-2)107 P.L.R. 234 in order to contend that right of a hearing has to be granted to the respondents before such an area is included in the municipal limits whereby the administrative action of the Government or the Municipality, which is delegated, entails serve consequences for the parties that is to follow the principles of natural justice. No doubt that the observations made in the judgment support the contention of the appellant, but in view of the various judgments cited above in the earlier part of the judgment, wherein it was observed that such a function, that is expansion of the area-including or excluding any area from the municipal boundaries or declaring a particular area to be the area of Municipal Corporation, is a legislative function, we arc not able to hold that it is an administrative action, especially when in Baldev Singh's case (supra) the argument of violation of principles of natural justice was advanced on the assumption that it is an administrative action. The question whether such an action was administrative or legislative was neither addressed to nor it was determined. The observations made on an assumption cannot be termed to be laying down a binding law. The observations relied upon have been made in the text and context of that peculiar case and the peculiar arguments advanced, apart from the ' fact that the observations are contrary to the consistent law laid down precedently by the Hon'ble Supreme Court holding it to be a legislative function, as referred to above. We may hasten to add, in the judgment relied upon by the Hon'ble Single Judge, in fact, the controversy was that the statutory provisions of law providing for the process of extension of the Municipal Act Under Section 256 of the Himachal Pradesh Municipal Act, were not complied with. There is no dispute with the proposition of law but it is not applicable to the facts of the present case. With due respect to the Hon'ble Single Judge, we are of the considered view that the expansion of municipal area termed to be an administrative action, cannot be accepted. Consequently, the observations to the extent holding that action to be an administrative action, is over-ruled. The statutory condition imbibed in the provisions of the Act have to be complied with and were complied with and. is not the case in hand. It is nobody's case that the statutory provisions made by enactment for the administration to grant an opportunity of hearing before exercising its legislative function. In-spite of this, as observed by the Hon'ble Single Judge, a hearing was given to the objectors though during the pendency of the writ petition. Thus, the petitioners suffer from no prejudice. We also find support from In re. Article 143, Constitution of India, etc. (Supra) wherein empowering the provincial Government to extend laws with modifications as things fit to its province was found to be a valid delegated legislation, remained as conditional legislation. As the provisions of law having been reproduced in the earlier part of the judgment are logisticaliy pari materia, rather on lower pedestral than the one found to be valid, it was observed that the legislature which is sovereign in itself, have unlimited power of delegation which necessarily include the power to delegate legislative functions, though with certain permissible limits, which are by now well-known, i.e., by delegation the delcgator does not deface or abdicate its legislative function in totality or lose total control over the delegated functions.
20. In view of the observations made above, we are of the considered view that the constitution of the Municipal Corporation specifying the territorial jurisdiction or area in which the Corporation is to function, or the declaration of the constitution of a Notified Area as a Corporation, is a legislative process. Even if it is assumed to be a delegated legislative power, it does not suffer from the vice of being unbridled excessive power without guidelines or policy which are said to be quite essential for delegation of legislative function.
21. Learned counsel for the appellant argued that the principles of natural justice are inherent though it may not be specifically indicated in Section 3 of the Corporation Act, especially when the civil rights of the citizens are being adversely affected because of their being residents of the Corporation. Certain liabilities are fixed on the citizens by solely coming into force of the Act. Thus, the basic question raised by the learned counsel is whether an opportunity of hearing should have been granted to the gram panchayats which have ceased and whose proprietory rights have been adversely affected, and also to the citizens living within the territorial jurisdiction of the Corporation as certain liabilities also fall on them under the Act, for example, loss of voice in gram panchayats, imposition of urban way of life, high incidence of tax etc. In order to support his submission, learned counsel for the appellant relied repeatedly on Baldev Singh's case (supra). Learned counsel for the respondents refuted the submissions made by learned counsel for the appellant and urged that in view of the function of constituting a Corporation being legislative process, the principles of natural justice cannot be applied. Learned counsel for the respondents relied on Tulsipur Sugar Co. Ltd.'s case (supra).
22. It is well-known that the principles of natural Justice cannot be extended to an extent whereby the legislative function would be rendered illusory. Making of a law is not an end in itself but means to an end which the Legislature desires to secure. In the legislative history and by tradition as well, the principles of natural justice cannot be imbided in the legislative functions unless the legislatures themselves, expressly or impliedly, provide for the same. One cannot set aside the State action of a particular character for not imbibing the principles of natural justice in it. The nature of individual's rights is one of the considerations. Applicability of principles of natural justice cannot be left at large. Its applicability is to be tested on the touchstone of public interest, convenience, necessity etc. We can say that incidentally legislatures are in fact, delegatories of the people. As observed earlier, Hon'ble Supreme Court in R.K. Porwal's case (supra), observed that in case of legislative activity or making a legislative instrument, declaration by Government notification that a certain place shall be principal market yard, upon which declaration certain statutory provisions spring into action and certain consequences prescribed by statute, follow forthwith, which implies the observance of the principles of natural justice is neither called for nor it is obligatory for the legislative function to discharge.
23. Similarly, the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Tulsipur Sugar Co. Ltd.'s case (supra) observed that before declaring any area to be town, village or suburb, etc. for the purpose of U.P. Town Act, in the absence of provisions of considering objections, neither the provisions can be struck down nor the opportunity of hearing or considering of objections can be read into it. While dealing with the principles of natural justice, the Hon'ble Supreme Court observed that it is the nature of function of the State which are performed which is relevant in the legislative functioning. It is in the context of this that it was observed that the principles of natural justice have got a secondary role or a factor to be considered where action is directed against a person in the society as a whole. No provision for not providing hearing can be declared unconstitutional. Reference may be made to Union of India v. J.N. Shah, A.I.R. 1971 SC 40.
24. So far as the judgment cited by learned counsel for the appellant, i.e. Baldev Singh's case (supra) is concerned, as observed earlier, the questions were answered on the assumed premises that the declaration of the village, for which the gram panchayat was constituted under the relevant statute in the State of Himachal Pradesh, as Notified Area, subject to the condition provided by the statute, is an administrative act and hence, the administrative authority was required to be satisfied with respect to the conditions imposed by the statute, the act being administrative, the observance of principles of natural justice was held to be essential. There is no dispute with the preposition of law that in an administrative decision, the principle of natural justice is required to be observed, which is not the case in hand. These observations made in Baldev Singh's case (supra) with respect to the observance of the principle of natural justice cannot be read bereft of the facts and the questions raised therein. Even otherwise too, as referred to above, in the later judgments, it was held that observance of natural justice by granting an opportunity of hearing is of no consequence.
25. Thirdly, the question raised by learned counsel for the appellant is that the ceasure of the gram panchayat on constitution of the Municipal Corporation as well as the Municipal Committee is violative of the provisions of Sections 215, 211 of the Panchayati Raj Act read with Article 243(N) of the Constitution of India. It would be expedient to reproduce in verbatim Article 243(N) of the Constitution of India as relevant provisions of Section 215 and Section 211 have been reproduced in the earlier part of the judgment, which runs as thus :-
"243(N). Continuance of existing laws and Panchayats :- Notwithstanding anything in this part, any provision of any law relating to panchayats in force in a State immediately before the commencement of the Constitution (Seventy-second Amendment) Act, 1992, which is inconsistent with the provisions of this Part, shallcontinue to be in force until amended or repealed by a competent Legislature or other competent Legislature or other competent authority or until the expiration of one year from such commencement, whichever is earlier.
Provided that all the Panchayats existing immediately before such commencement shall continue till the expiration of their duration, unless sooner dissolved by a resolution passed to that effect by the Legislative Assembly of that State or, in the case of a State having a Legislative Council, by each house of the Legislature of the State."
26. Conspectus of law from reading of the above provisions emerges that gram sabha formed of a gram sabha area and gram panchayal is constituted in the exercise of the legislative power. Under the scheme of the Act, with an object to taking democracy to the grass root level, the concept of gram panchayat was given effect to, constitutionally as well as statutorily, the freedom of the office of gram panchayat has been protected. Similarly, the term of the members of the gram panchayat, as a necessary corollary to the freedom of gram panchayat, is provided and protected. Reference may be made to Section 10, 15 read with Section 211 of the Panchayati Raj Act.
27. Right to legislate vested in the Legislature is basic structure of the Constitution. It cannot be tinkered with or tempered with even by the Legislatures themselves. Acts can be enacted, repealed and new acts in place of them can be enacted.
28. One of the rules of interpretation is that the Legislatures know the freedom known to the law or interpreted from time to time, different words have been used to denote different situations. There can be no gainsaying that the concept of dissolution of gram panchayat and ceasure thereof to exist are different connotations and concepts. The dissolution of a gram panchayat cannot be raised to the pedestal of its ceasing to exist. Dissolution of the gram panchayat envisages the continuation of the corporate body while ceasure brings about and end to the corporate body it-self. Plain reading of the Section makes it obvious that it is the dissolution of the gram panchayat which has been protected and not the ceasure.
29. 'Ceasure' as defined in the Webster Third New International Dictionary, means "bring to an end, discontinuing, put a stop to, to die out, become extinct" while the same dictionary describes 'dissolution' as "act or the process of dissolving or breaking out, separation into component parts, disintegration, the process of becoming or the state of being relaxed or loosening, becoming or being dissolute or dissolving tie or connection." In our considered view in the context and the text of the provisions of the Constitution as well as the statutory laws, the intent of legislature appears to be plainly that the legal identity created, i.e., the constitution of gram panchayat, should continue. It cannot be brought to an end though its components may be loosened for the time being on the happening of a particular eventuality. Since the panchayat is constituted, another reason for taking the dissolution as distinct from ceasure is that gram sabha and the gram sabha area are quite essential for the gram panchayat. In other words, there can be gram panchayat only when there is gram sabha and gram sabha area. Protection is provided to the dissolution of the panchayats. No protection has been provided, and it appears to be intentional, to the dissolution of the gram sabha and gram sabha area. Once the Gram Sabha and Gram Sabha area disappear, ceasure of the gram panchayat would be a natural corollary.
The above observations further find support from the fact that specific period of office has been provided for the gram panchayat. If gram panchayat is dissolved, constitution of the new gram panchayat can be effected only for the remaining terms and not beyond that, whereas for effecting efacement or abolition of gram sabha and gram sabha area, no such period is provided. Both can be brought to an end by acquisition or by enactment. Even the enactment has not been prohibited by the Constitutional amendment of introductory Article 243 of the Constitution of India.
30. For the reasons recorded above, we are of the considered view that the provisions of Article 243(N) of the Constitution of India or Sections 10 and 15 of the , Panchayati Raj Act are not violated in any manner by the constitution of the Municipal Corporation which automatically resulted in ceasure of gram sabha and gram sabha area, thereby resulting into ceasure of the gram panchayat as well.
31. Coming to the last, but not the least, contention raised that in terms of Sub-section (4) of Section 3 of the Panchayati Raj Act when the gram sabha or the gram sabha area cease to exist on account of their being included in the urban estate under the Municipal Act, 1911, the Corporation Act, 1976, the assets and liabilities of the gram panchayats would automatically deem to have vested in the respective institutions, as they can be loosely termed as successor to the gram panchayat. Even otherwise too, we fully agree with the Hon'ble Single Judge that non-framing of any rules for disposal of panchayat's properties on its ceasure would be of no consequence, as in terms of Section 427 of the Corporation Act, all assets and liabilities of the gram panchayat would automatically vest in the Municipal Corporation.
32. In our considered view, Notification constituting Notified Area, for the reasons recorded in the earlier part of the judgment with respect to constitution of the Corporation, and specifying territorial jurisdiction, is a legislative function. As observed in the earlier part of the judgment, the principles of natural justice cannot be invoked or imbibed while discharging legislative functions unless Legislatures themselves specifically, provide for the same.
33. In our considered view, non-framing of rules for the disposal of panchayat properties or their vesting in the Notified Area would not render the Notification constituting the Notified Area as nugatory or violative of any provision for which it can be declared to be ultra vires. If we may hasten to add, nothing substantial has been pointed out that the declaration of the Notified Area suffers from any arbitrariness, non-application of mind or is violative of any statutory provision. Constitution of a Notified Area of small villages being a legislative function, it is for the legislatures to consider it on all aspects. Ordinarily the Courts cannot substitute their opinion for the opinion of the legislatures. Mere on declaration of an area as Notified Area, later withdrawing and subsequently re-declaring, by itself would not render the declaration of the Notified Area as ultra vires or suffering from the vice of any illegality or irregularity. We may add that no cancellation of gram sabha areais specifically required for declaration of a Notified Area. Nothing substantial has been pointed out.
34. No other point has been urged or argued,
35. In view of the observations made above, we find no force in the arguments made by learned counsel for the appellant and the appeal is thus dismissed with no order as to costs