Article 243Q: Statutory Requirements Limit The Governor’s Ability To Define A Municipality’s Transitional: Allahabad High Court

In the case of Sujit & Ors. v. State & Ors(WRIT – C No. – 26793 of 2022), according to the Allahabad High Court, statutory requirements set limits on the Governor’s ability to designate a Nagar Panchayat’s transitional territory under Article 243Q of the Constitution. According to a division bench of Justices Manoj Kumar Gupta and Rajendra Kumar-IV, “The Governor while exercising power to include or exclude any area in a transitional area, or a smaller urban area, under clause (2) of Article 243 of the Constitution read with Section 3 of the U.P. Municipalities Act, 1916, must follow the procedure prescribed under Section 4, which requires that before issuance of notification under Section 3, a draught proposal be submitted to the state legislature for approval.

Facts: According to Article 243Q of the Constitution, the Governor has the authority to create a Nagar Panchayat, a Municipal Council, or a Municipal Corporation as well as to include or omit any territory. The UP Municipalities Act of 1916 mandates that before adding or omitting any region in a transitional area or a smaller urban area, the proposal must be informed pursuant to Section 4, inviting comments and objections, after which a final notification must be made pursuant to Section 3. Several elected Pradhans who filed the petition felt wronged by a notification that the governor allegedly issued in violation of Section 4 of the 1916 Act. In their case, a draught plan that was initially disseminated for the inclusion of ten villages in the transitional region of Nagar Panchayat, Badahalganj, Gorakhpur, was in accordance with Section 4. A second notification, which included seven additional communities that were not included in the draught notification, was later released. According to the petitioners, this action made Section 4 of the Act unnecessary. It was argued that the area cannot be expanded while issuing the final notification if it was already specified in the draught plan. On the other side, the State maintained that seven villages were added to the final notification based on suggestions and complaints that were made in response to the preliminary notification. The High Court pointed out that Section 3 plainly and unambiguously stipulates that the notification must be provided following the prior publication required by Section 4, whose goal is to give the general public the chance to submit objections to the proposal.

Judgement: The area that was initially intended to be included in the transitional region cannot be extended in a way that alters the overall complexion and character of the preliminary notification, the court said. The population of the area, the density of the population there, the revenue generated for local administration, the percentage of employment in non-agricultural activities, the economic importance, or any other factor the Governor deems appropriate are all factors that the Governor takes into consideration when exercising his authority under Article 2430. Aside from inclusion or exclusion, any of the aforementioned factors could be the subject of the objection. This is a priceless privilege granted to the general public with the express purpose of giving them more power in all areas of local self-government. The right to raise an objection has been made illusory due to these communities not being included in the proposal that was informed pursuant to Section 4, rendering Section 4 of the Act unnecessary. The Court determined that the Governor’s decision to notify seven communities in the transitional region without first publishing them as required by Section 4 amounted to a mere usurpation of authority. Considering the foregoing, the Court ruled that the contested notification was illegal and nullified it.

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