High Court restores powers of village headman in U.P.

A village headman in Etawah district whose administrative and financial powers were ceased by the administration over allegations of misappropriation of funds in building toilets and rural homes has got his powers restored by the Allahabad High Court.

The pradhan alleged that he was targeted by the administration and BJP leaders as he was affiliated with the Samajwadi Party.

The administrative and financial powers of Sunil Kumar Yadav, pradhan of the Asafpur gram panchayat, were ceased by an order of the District Magistrate under Section 95 (1) (g) of the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1947, on August 20. Charges against Mr. Yadav were proved in the preliminary enquiry, recorded the DM’s order.

The pradhan challenged the order, arguing that the procedure laid down in the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Raj (Removal of Pradhans, Up-Pradhans and Members) Enquiry Rules, 1997, was not followed. Mr. Yadav also contended that he was neither issued any show-cause notice nor did the DM record satisfaction justifying invocation of power under Section 95 (1) (g) of the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1947.

While putting a stay on the DM’s order till the next hearing, a Bench of Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra allowed the pradhan to continue in his post and exercise his administrative and financial powers.

A perusal of the DM’s order does not reveal that any show-cause notice was issued to the petitioner nor his version was considered, said the court.

‘Political vendetta’

Mr. Yadav alleged that the administration took action against him at the behest of BJP leaders as part of a “political vendetta”. He said the administration ceased his powers after recommendations for conducting an inquiry were made by BJP MP Ram Shankar Katheria, BJP MLA from Barthana Savitri Katheria and BJP district president Ajay Pratap Singh Dhakre.

The court granted the State four weeks to file a counter-affidavit.

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