Himachal Pradesh high court quashes notification on new sub-division at Mandi

Quashing notifications regarding creation of a sub-division at Janjehli and sub-tehsil at Chhatri in Mandi district, the Himachal Pradeshhigh court has observed that public action has to be exercised in good faith.
The court said, “Public action cannot be based on extraneous factors and considerations. Arbitrariness cannot be allowed to prevail. It should not be dependent on whims and caprice of an individual.”

During the previous Congress regime, the state government had issued a notification on June 27, 2016, whereby a new sub-division (civil), known as ‘Janjehli’, was created by reorganizing certain areas of Thunag and Bali Chowki tehsils. Earlier, a notification dated April 21, 2016, had paved the way for creation of a sub-tehsil at Chhatri.

The gram panchayat, Thunag, through its pradhan and duly authorized representative, had filed a petition requesting the court to get the record of decisions taken by the government.

The petitioners also prayed to the court to direct respondents to consider the representation of the various panchayats and the resolution of the zila parishad.

Disposing of the petition, a division bench of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma observed that certain facts are not in dispute. It said that Thunag tehsil comprises 19 patwar circles, having a population of approximately 30,000 people. Janjehli is located just at a distance of 14 kms from Thunag.

“In fact, all the panchayats, falling within Thunag tehsil, had been passing resolutions since 2016, asking the government not to go ahead with the proposal, if any,” it added.

The court pointed out that breaking up of Thunag as a gram panchayat and creating a separate sub-division at Janjehli has in fact aggravated the problem and agony of the residents of the area.

The division bench observed this court is not oblivious of the fact that decision to create a sub-division and place headquarters at a particular place is the sole prerogative of the state, but then such actions have to be based on sound principles of law.

“There has to be rationality and logic in the same. Also such decision ought to be based on some objective material,” the court added.

The court said resolutions of the gram panchayats have not been considered, much less responded to. There is no application of mind and the decision, it appears has been taken in haste, only to achieve certain oblique ends, as alleged by the petitioner, the court added.
 The court said the sub-division at Janjehli, with its headquarters at the same place, comprises 14 patwar circles of Thunag tehsil. What is the justification for doing the same, and that too when Janjehli is just at a distance of 14 kms from Thunag, it said.
The court said geographically, Thunag is well connected and it is best suited even climatically. During winters, Janjehli is often covered by snow, making things difficult from the viewpoint of administration, the court added.
As carried in TOI

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