Patna HC clears way for sacked mukhiya to contest panchayat election | Patna News

PATNA: The Patna high court on Thursday directed the state election commission and Kaimur district magistrate to allow sacked mukhiya Hirawati Devi to contest in the ongoing panchayat election.
The division bench of justice Vikash Jain and justice Anjani Kumar Sharan, while hearing her appeal, however ordered that the counting and results of the election for the post of mukhiya in the panchayat for which Hirawati will contest election, won’t be declared till further orders. The bench also directed authorities to allot her an election symbol.
Earlier, the division bench of justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah and justice Anjani Kumar Sharan had granted relief to Hirawati on October 1 by directing the Kaimur DM to accept her nomination papers for contesting the election for post of mukhiya from Lohdan.
Hirawati was the mukhiya of Lohdan panchayat in Chand block. She was sacked by the panchayati raj department’s principal secretary after an inquiry on October 28, 2019 on charges of misconduct in discharging duty and misappropriating funds.
She was later barred from contesting panchayat elections for five years as per Section 18 of the Bihar Panchayat Raj Act, 2006.
The action was taken after Hirawati defalcated Rs 33.97 lakh while serving as mukhiya.
The fund was meant for developmental projects under the state government’s seven resolution scheme.
However, she later repaid Rs 35.22 lakh, including simple interest against the defalcated fund.
The department had ordered for charging compound interest for the period during which she had the defalcated amount.
Appearing for the petitioner mukhiya, counsel Rajeev Kumar Singh submitted before the bench that the concerned district magistrate has power to give orders to conduct any inquiry against a mukhiya under his jurisdiction.
He also apprised the bench that as per Bihar Panchayat (Inspection of Offices and Inquiry into Affairs, Supervision and Guidelines) Rules, 2014, an SDO or higher authority could conduct the inquiry against a mukhiya but in Hirawati’s case it was conducted by a treasury officer who is below SDO rank.
Appearing for the state government, counsel Dhirendra Kumar argued that the inquiry was conducted properly by an appropriate government officer and as per the rules and regulations against the mukhiya only after which she was sacked from her post.
Senior counsel Arvind Srivastava, appearing for the state election commission, submitted that they will comply with court orders.
The bench prima facie remained satisfied with submissions made by the petitioner’s counsel following which it granted the relief by allowing her to contest the election.
The election of mukhiya for Lohdan panchayat is scheduled to take place on October 20.
The bench has fixed October 21 as next hearing date. The petitioner has moved court seeking relief that her sacking order be set aside along with permission to contest election.

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