PANAJI: The Bombay High Court at Goa on Tuesday disqualified Arambol panchayat ward II member Deepika Vaigankar for voting in favour of a resolution where she had a peculiar interest in regularising an illegal construction of her ancestral house.
The writ petition was filed by Uday B Vaigankar, who argued that under provisions of Section 12 (1) (d) of the Goa Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 (said Act) which provides that if a member of a panchayat votes or takes part in discussion in contravention of the provisions of sub-section (4) of section 55, his seat shall be deemed to be or to have become, as the case may be vacant.
He said that Section 55 (4) of the said Act provides that no member of a panchayat shall vote on, or take part in the discussion of, any question coming up for consideration at a meeting of a panchayat, if the question is one in which, apart from its general application to the public, he has any pecuniary interest, and if the person presiding has such an interest, he shall not preside over the meeting when such question comes up for consideration.
The petitioner referred to the resolution passed in the meeting of the panchayat held on June 28, 2017, regarding seeking regularisation of house number 299 in the property bearing survey number 176/9 and 176/10 of the Arambol panchayat. After discussion the meeting unanimously resolved to regularise the said illegal structure within two months and submit the file along with relevant documents of regularisation of construction. The said structure was the ancestral house of Deepika Vaigankar, which stands recorded in the name of her father-in-law Krishna Hari Vaigankar.
The application for regularisation of the illegal construction in house number 299 was, in fact, made by Sudan Krishna Vaigankar, brother-in-law of the respondent. He also contended that Deepika's husband Deelip was operating a shop from the ground floor of house number 299.
Despite this, the panchayat member voted in favour of the resolution in which she had pecuniary interest and breached the provisions of Section 55 (4) of the said Act and consequently deemed to have vacated her seat as the panchayat member as provided under Section 12(1) (d) of the said Act.
Deepika Vaigankar in her affidavit pleaded that she along with her husband reside in house number 300 (2) and that she had no nexus with house number 299. She pleaded that she neither had any interest in house number 299 nor would she be affected in any manner if the order made by the Arambol village panchayat with regards to demolition of house number 299 was executed by the panchayat.
Deepika stated that she had absolutely no “pecuniary interest” in house number 299 and therefore her voting on the resolution to regularise illegal constructions in house number 299 does not attract the bar under Section 55 (4) of the said Act.
However, the division bench comprising Justice Mahesh Sonak and Justice Nutan Sardessai observed that Deepika Vaigankar attended the panchayat meeting held on June 28, 2017 and voted in favour of the aforesaid resolution, which was duly passed.
The court stated that there was enough material on record to establish that Deepika Vaigankar had “pecuniary interest” in the subject-matter of the said resolution and declared that she will no longer act as panchayat member.