3 April 2023 7:15 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has directed the Principal Secretary to Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj to explore the possibility of making available hybrid hearings through video conferencing, at all quasi judicial authorities. A single judge bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj said “In this age when courts have also installed hybrid hearings through video conferencing, the...
The Karnataka High Court has directed the Principal Secretary to Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj to explore the possibility of making available hybrid hearings through video conferencing, at all quasi judicial authorities.
A single judge bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj said “In this age when courts have also installed hybrid hearings through video conferencing, the Prl. Secretary to explore the possibility of making available similar facilities at all quasi judicial authorities, so as to enable easy access to justice to the citizens of the country.”
The court also directed the Chief Secretary to explore the possibility of appointing a separate set of persons to deal with quasi judicial functions who are not required to discharge administrative functions, so that long pending matters can be completed at the earliest.
Further the bench has directed the Department of Panchayat Raj, Rural Development to institute appropriate system and a methodology to web host all case proceedings including the daily orders and judgments on the relevant website of that particular authority in a similar manner as done by this Court as also the District Courts.
The bench observed “Administrative authorities are also discharging quasi judicial functions. It is required that the administrative authorities give equal, if not more prominence to quasi judicial functions where the rights of the citizens are affected.”
The court issued the following directions:
1: All details of the proceedings including the date on which the matter is posted, the daily orders which have been passed, evidence which has been recorded, directions which have been issued, as also the final Judgment which has been passed would be required to be uploaded on the relevant website.
2: Necessary arrangements to be made to inform the litigants, as also advocates by SMS and/or e-mail, wherever e-mail id is provided about the orders passed like that done by this Court.
3: Whenever there is any adjournment which is made by quasi judicial authority, detailed reasoning to be given as to why the matter is being adjourned rather than a laconic statement that the Presiding Officer is otherwise busy in administrative function.
4: A suitable monitoring system to be established by the Prl. Secretary, Department of Rural development and Panchayat Raj to monitor the progress of all quasi judicial proceedings before the Authorities coming under his jurisdiction.
The above directions were given while allowing a petition filed by Manje Gowda and quashed the order dated 16.1.2014 passed by the Zilla Panchayat and the order dated 7.03.2002 passed by the President, Taluka Panchayat under Section 237 of the Panchayat Raj Act, 1993, cancelling the katha (property certificate) issued by Nagamangala taluka panchayat in favour of his father who had already deceased prior to the order being passed.
It was contended by the petitioner that the delay which has been caused in challenging the said order is on account of no particular information being made available to the petitioner about the next date the matter would be taken inasmuch as on several occasions there was no sitting of respondent No.2 and the petitioner did not even know the next date, furthermore the order passed by respondent No.2 was not even communicated to the petitioner.
The bench noted that Section 267 of the Act, indicates that powers vested are only for the purpose of suspension of any particular action pending enquiry relating thereto and does not confer any power to cancel the khatha.
Thus it held “Neither respondent No.2 nor respondent No.3 could have passed the impugned order. As such, the said order would have to be set-aside.”
The court has directed the government advocate to bring it to the notice of the Prl. Secretary, about the seriousness of the matter, more so, in this particular matter where proceedings were pending from 2002 to 2014, where more than hundred adjournments were granted on account of the Presiding Officer being otherwise busy in administrative functions.
Finally, it called for a comprehensive report, detailed project plan, and a detailed action taken report on the directions issued by the court and posted the matter for filing compliance report and hearing on April 17.
Case Title: Manje Gowda And State of Karnataka & Others
Case No: WRIT PETITION NO. 50646 OF 2016
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 135
Date of Order: 27-02-2023
Appearance: G S Venkat Subbarao
Advocate B J Somayaji FOR R1 TO R4.
Advocate Narendra D V Gowda FOR R5
Click Here To Read/Download Order