No Confidence Motion =.It is well settled in law that a mandatory provision of law requires strict compliance but there are situations where even if a provision is mandatory, non-compliance would not result in nullification of the act. There are certain exceptions. One such exception is, if a certain requirement or condition is provided in a statute for the benefit or interest of a particular person, the same can be waived by him if no public interest is involved. The ultimate result would be valid even if the requirement or condition is not performed. = had the respondent no. 6 not participated in the meeting, the matter would have been absolutely different. Having participated, it has to be held that the respondent no. 6 had waived the condition precedent = In view of the aforesaid premises, the appeal is allowed and the orders passed by the learned single Judge as well as the Division Bench are set aside. The resolution passed against the respondent no. 6 is treated as valid. The competent authority is directed to carry out the consequences of the resolution.

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4677 OF 2018
(Arising out of S.L.P. (Civil) No. 33637 of 2017)
Padmini Singha …Appellant(s)
Versus
The State of Assam & Others …Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
Dipak Misra, CJI
On 30.01.2014, the appellant along with seven members of
Masughat Gaon Panchayat submitted a No Confidence Motion
against the President, respondent no. 6 herein, and for
requisition of a special meeting to prove the majority of Gaon
Panchayat President as per Section 15(1) of the Assam Panchayat
Act, 1994 (for brevity, „the Act‟). On 15.02.2014, the Secretary,
Masughat Gaon Panchayat forwarded the said requisition to the
President, Borkhola Anchalik Panchayat stating therein that the
matter had already been put up before the President, Masughat
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Gaon Panchayat on 07.02.2014 for taking necessary action but
she asked to wait due to some legal complications. Since the
stipulated period of calling a special meeting was over, the
petition was being referred for taking necessary action as per
provisions of the Act. By virtue of letter dated 26.02.2014, the
Block Development Officer (BDO), Borkhola Development Block
referred the matter to the Deputy Commissioner, Cachar, Silchar
stating that he had already put the matter before the President of
the concerned Panchayat on 20.02.2014; that she stated to wait
and that since the stipulated period for calling a special meeting
was over, the matter was being referred to him for taking
necessary action as per the Act.
2. On 17.03.2014, the Additional Deputy Commissioner,
Cachar, Silchar sent a communication to the BDO, Borkhola
Development Block which is as follows:-
“No. CDO.1/2014/11 Dated, Silchar,
the 17th March, 2014
To,
The Block Development Officer,
Borkhola Development Block.
Sub. Special Meeting of No Confidence
Motion against the President Masughat GP.
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Ref.BDE/E-11/92-98/Pt.II/AP
Establishment, Dated
26-02-2014
I am to return herewith the proposal
submitted by you for convening a special
meeting of No Confidence Motion against
the G.P. President Masughat G.P. and
request you to take necessary action as per
provision laid down in the Assam Panchayat
Raj Act, 1994 Sec. 15(1).
The extract copy of relevant portion of
the said Act Sec. 15(1) is enclosed herewith
for favour of your kind necessary action.
Encl: As stated above A.R. Sheikh, ACS
Addl. Deputy Commissioner (Dev.)
Chchar, Silchar”
3. In compliance of the above communication, on 21.03.2014,
the BDO wrote to the President, Masughat Gaon Panchayat
informing her to attend the special meeting of No Confidence to
be convened on 31.03.2014 at 12:30 p.m. in the office of the
BDO. On 31.03.2014, the meeting was presided over by BDO. In
the meeting, nine members cast their votes in favour of the No
Confidence Motion and one member cast vote against the No
Confidence Motion. Thus, the President, respondent no. 6
herein, lost her Presidentship and the Vice President, appellant
herein, was directed to function as incharge President of the
concerned Panchayat for the time being.
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4. Being aggrieved by the passing of the No Confidence Motion
against her, the respondent no. 6 herein filed a writ petition,
being Writ Petition (Civil) No. 2051 of 2014, before the Gauhati
High Court. In the writ petition, she challenged the legal
acceptability and validity of the resolution expressing want of
confidence against her in a special meeting held on 31.03.2014.
The learned single Judge of the High Court, vide judgment and
order dated 09.08.2016, allowed the writ petition on the ground
that vide letter dated 17.03.2014, the Deputy Commissioner,
instead of taking action in the matter, merely wrote back to the
BDO to take steps in accordance with Section 15 of the Act and
there was no delegation of authority to the BDO to preside over
the meeting. No document had been produced showing
delegation of authority. It was the Deputy Commissioner who
ought to have taken steps in terms of the provisions of the Act by
convening a meeting. A meeting convened and presided over by
an authority alien to the mandate postulated in Section 15 of the
Act could not sanctify the proceeding of a meeting. On this
foundation, the resolution adopted expressing no confidence
against the President was set aside and declared null and void.
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5. Being grieved by the judgment and order of the learned
single Judge, the appellant filed Writ Appeal (Civil) No. 310 of
2016 before the Division Bench of the High Court which, by the
impugned judgment and order dated 24.11.2017, dismissed the
Writ Appeal. The Division Bench held that it is only the Deputy
Commissioner who can convene the meeting within seven days
from the date of receipt of the information and Section 15 does
not authorize the Deputy Commissioner to delegate his power of
convening the meeting to the BDO. The BDO can preside over the
meeting being a Gazetted officer only when the Deputy
Commissioner is unable to preside over the meeting and it is so
conveyed by him. The appellate Bench opined that as per
Section 15 of the Act, the meeting was to be convened by the
Deputy Commissioner and no one else and when law provides to
do a certain thing in a certain way, the thing must be done in
that way or not at all. Being of this view, it concurred with the
opinion expressed by the learned single Judge and dismissed the
intra court appeal.
6. In the present appeal by special leave, the appellant has
assailed the correctness of the impugned judgment.
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7. Despite service of notice, there has been no appearance. We
have heard Mr. Pijush Kanti Roy, learned counsel for the
appellant.
8. The relevant part of Section 15 reads as follows:-
“Section 15 – No confidence motion
against the President and Vice
President:–
(1) Every President or Vice-President shall
be deemed to have vacated his office
forthwith when resolution expressing want
of confidence in him is passed by a majority
of two third of the total number of members
of the Gaon Panchayat.
Such a meeting shall be specially
convened by the Secretary of the Gaon
Panchayat with approval of the President of
the Gaon Panchayat. Such meeting shall be
presided over by the President if the motion
is against the Vice- President, and by the
Vice-President, if the motion is against the
President. In case such a meeting is not
convened within a period of fifteen days
from the date of receipt of notice, the
Secretary of the Gaon Panchayat shall
within three days, refer the matter to the
President of the concerned Anchalik
Panchayat, who shall convene the meeting
within seven days from the date of receipt of
the information from the Secretary of the
Gaon Panchayat and preside over such
meeting.
In case the President of the Anchalik
Panchayat does not take action as above,
within the specified seven days time, the
concerned Gaon Panchayat Secretary shall
inform the matter to the Deputy
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Commissioner/Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil)
as the case may be within three days after
the expiry of the stipulated seven days time
and the concerned Deputy
Commissioner/Sub-Divisional Officer (C)
shall convene the meeting within seven days
from the date of the receipt of the
information with intimation to the Zilla
Parishad and the Anchalik Panchayat and
preside over the meeting so convened :
Provided that the concerned Deputy
Commissioner/Sub-Divisional Officer (C) as
the case may be, in case of his inability to
preside over the meeting, may depute one
Gazetted Officer under him not below the
rank of Class-I Gazetted Officer to preside
over such meeting:
Provided further that when a nonconfidence
motion is lost, no such motion
shall be allowed in the next six months.”
9. On a plain reading of the said provision, it is crystal clear
that the meeting has to be convened by the Deputy
Commissioner within a stipulated time and the said authority
has also been conferred the power to depute one Gazetted Officer
under him not below the rank of Class I Gazetted Officer to
preside over the meeting. The said situation comes into existence
after the Deputy Commissioner is informed to convene the
meeting. The Division Bench has observed, placing reliance on
the communication of the Deputy Commissioner that he has not
really convened the meeting and that apart, he has not delegated
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the power or authority to the BDO to preside over the meeting. It
has been further held that the BDO at the most could have
presided over the meeting when the Deputy Commissioner was
unable to preside over the meeting so convened by him. But as
the meeting was not convened, the whole thing was illegal.
10. It may be noted that a ground has been taken in this appeal
before us that the beneficiary, namely, the respondent no. 6, had
attended the meeting. On a perusal of the judgment of the
learned single Judge, we do not notice that any such assertion
was made. The entire discussion, as we find, relates to what is
meant by the Deputy Commissioner by his communication dated
17.02.2014 and further, regarding the delegation of authority to
the BDO to preside over the meeting. The ultimate conclusion
that has been recorded by the learned single Judge is expressed
in para 22 of the judgment which reads thus:-
“22. In view of the above discussions, the
resolution adopted expressing no confidence
against the petitioner is set aside and
declared null and void. But the matter does
not rest here. This Court cannot remain
oblivious of the fact that a requisition for No
Confidence Motion was given against the
petitioner and expression of no confidence
was negatived for procedural irregularities
as mentioned above and, therefore, this
Court will be failing in its duty in exercising
power under Article 226 of the Constitution
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of India if this Court does not direct the
petitioner to hold a meeting to decide the No
Confidence Motion brought against her.”
11. Interpreting Section 15 of the Act, the Division Bench
opined that the Deputy Commissioner has not acted as provided
under Section 15. The resolution passed on 31.03.2014 which
has been brought on record as Annexure P-6 records that the
respondent no. 6 was present in the meeting and signed. In such
a situation, the issue that emerges for consideration is whether
the ultimate resolution of the meeting could have been discarded.
12. To appreciate the said aspect, it is appropriate to reproduce
the content of the resolution. It reads thus:-
“The meeting is presided over by Shri
Kishore Baruah, BDO, Borkhola
Development Block as per Assam Panchayat
Act, 1994. At the outset of the meeting BDO
asked the Members any opinion if they
have. They replied that they want voting
then by secret ballot voting is done. Ballot
box is open at 1.30 p.m. After opening the
Ballot Box as found 9 G.P. Members casted
their votes for No-Confidence motion and 1
G.P. Member caste vote against the NoConfidence
Motion. As per Assam
Panchayat Act 2/3rd (section 15) majority of
the total G.P. members should caste votes
either in support of No-Confidence motion
or against the No-Confidence motion. In this
connection 2/3rd i.e., 7 members out of 10
members required. But after opening Ballot
Box, it is found that 9 G.P. Members casted
vote in favour of No-Confidence Motion and
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1 G.P. Member casted vote against the NoConfidence
Motion. As a result of which Rita
Rani Dusad, President, Masughat G.P. lost
her Presidentship and as per Act, Vice
President Masughat G.P. will act and
perform and function as i/c, President,
Masughat G.P. for the time being.”
13. From the foregoing, it is quite vivid that the meeting was
held to discuss the Motion of No-Confidence. The respondent no.
6 who was a beneficiary attended the meeting and voting had
taken place. It is well settled in law that a mandatory provision
of law requires strict compliance but there are situations where
even if a provision is mandatory, non-compliance would not
result in nullification of the act. There are certain exceptions.
One such exception is, if a certain requirement or condition is
provided in a statute for the benefit or interest of a particular
person, the same can be waived by him if no public interest is
involved. The ultimate result would be valid even if the
requirement or condition is not performed. We are disposed to
think that in the obtaining fact situation, no public interest was
affected. The BDO presided over the meeting and every one knew
that the meeting was called for passing a resolution either in
favour of or against the No Confidence Motion. The respondent
no. 6 knowing fully well participated in the meeting and the
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resolution was passed against her. After losing in the voting
process, the assail was made to the procedure of calling the
meeting. We are inclined to think, had the respondent no. 6 not
participated in the meeting, the matter would have been
absolutely different. Having participated, it has to be held that
the respondent no. 6 had waived the condition precedent.
14. In view of the aforesaid premises, the appeal is allowed and
the orders passed by the learned single Judge as well as the
Division Bench are set aside. The resolution passed against the
respondent no. 6 is treated as valid. The competent authority is
directed to carry out the consequences of the resolution. In the
facts and circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to
costs.
.………………………….CJI.
(Dipak Misra)
.…………………………….J.
(A.M. Khanwilkar)

…………………….………..J.
(Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud)
New Delhi;
September 27, 2018