Vavilala Fishermen Co-Operative … vs Vavilala Gram Panchayat And Ors. on 1 August, 1989

Andhra High Court
Vavilala Fishermen Co-Operative … vs Vavilala Gram Panchayat And Ors. on 1 August, 1989
Equivalent citations: 1992 (2) ALT 569
Author: M Rao
Bench: M Rao


M.N. Rao, J.

1. The petitioner – Vavilala Fishermen Co-operative Society Limited is seeking a writ order or direction declaring the action of the Gram Panchayat in conducting open auction on 1-9-1988 relating to the fishing rights of 4 tanks of Vavilala Village as illegal and consequential direction to the Gram Panchayat to allot the fishing rights to the petitioner-Society. There are 5 minor irrigation tanks in Vavilala village, Tiruvuru Mandalam, Krishna Dist. The area of operation of the petitioner-Society is confined to the limits of Vavilala village. On 22-2-1988 the petitioner-Society was provisionally registered and the final registration was on 7-6-1988 on 8-6-1988 the Assistant Director granted lease in respect of one tank – Krishna Sagaram – for a period of three years in favour of the petitioner-Society. As regards the other 4 tanks the petitioner-Society made a request for similar grant of lease. The Commissioner of Fisheries issued a telegram to the Assistant Director of Fisheries on 22-6-1988,15 days after the final registration was effected staying the registration of the petitioner-Society. The telegram reads thus;

” Registration of FCS at vavilala village is stayed. If already registered, lease rights granted on the said Society on any water bodies stayed.”

Basing upon the telegram the Gram Panchayat requested the Divisional Panchayat Officer to fix upset price in respect of the remaining 4 tanks for purpose of leasing them. The upset price was fixed on 28-88 by the Divisional Panchayat Officer. On 30-8-88 an announcement was made by the Gram Panchayat by beat of ‘Tom-Tom” that auction would be conducted on 1-9-88. Respondents 3 and 4 are the successful auction purchasers. The auction was ratified by the Gram Panchayat on 3-9-88. On 8-9-88 respondents 3 and 4 deposited the money. In the meantime, on 1-9-88 the petitioner-Society filed the present writ petition by obtaining special permission by way of lunch motion. My learned brother Upendralal Waghray, J. in W.P.M.P. 16819/88 directed the Vavilala Gram Panchayat and the Divisional Panchayat Officer, Nuzvid “not to confirm the auction conducted by the respondent on 1-9-88 relating to the fishing rights of four tanks of Vavilala village and that the lease shall not be finalised in favour of the third party, pending further orders”. On 9-9-88 the Divisional Panchayat Officer informed the Gram Panchayat by telegram not to ratify the auction in favour of the succesful auction purchasers.

2. The petitioner-society in questioning the auction held by the Gram Panchayat on 1-9-88 and ratification of the lease in favour of respondents 3 and 4 on the ground that the same is contrary to the Rules issued in G.O.Ms. No. 343 Panchayat Raj dated 10-4-78. It is the contention of Sri T. Jagdish, learned counsel for the petitioner, that in respect of the minor irrigation tanks, the rights are vested in the Gram Panchayat. The fishing rights shall be leased out “without public auction to the Fisherman Co-operative Society of the local area under Rule 2(a) (i). The learned Government Pleader contends that the auction was conducted by the Gram Panchayat basing upon the telegram issued by the Commissioner of Fisheries on 22-6-88 and therefore the action of the Gram Panchayat cannot be found fault with. The learned counsel appearing for the Gram Panchayat argued supporting that contention. The learned counsel appearing for respondents 3 and 4 the auction purchasers, reported no instructions.

3. As already noticed, under Rule 3(a) (i) of the Rules relating to leasing of fishery rights in minor irrigation tanks and other sources vested in the Gram Panchayat, under the Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayat Act 1964 the petitioner-Society is entitled to the lease of fishing rights in respect of the tanks in the village which undoubtedly are minor irrigation tanks vested in the Gram Panchayat. The Telegram issued by the Commissioner of Fisheries on 22-6-88 could not be the basis for conducting the public auction by the Gram Panchayat on 1-9-88. Even 15 days prior to the date of telegram, the Society was already registered. As by the date of auction, that is, 1-9-1988 the petitioner society was already registered (the final registration was on 7-6-88) the auction conducted by the Gram Panchayat is clearly in violation of Rule 3(a)(i) of the Rules issued in G.O.Ms.No. 343 Panchayat Raj dated 18-4-76.

4. The plea of the Gram Panchayat that the order of this Court was not communicated to it is, on the face of it, unbelievable. The interim order passed from Hyderabad to the Gram Panchayat, Vavilala was not received by it for 9 days. The endorsement placedbefore me by the learned counsel for the petitioner shows that the Tiruvuru Post Office received the telegram on 2-9-88. in the circumstances, the only conclusion that must be drawn is that deliberately the Gram Panchayat refused to receive the telegram with a view to circumvent the orders passed by this Court.

5. As the auction was confirmed in favour of respondents 3 and 4, the petitioner-Society filed W.P.M.P.6417/89 before this Court for a direction to respondents 3 and 4 not to catch the fish in the 4 tanks. The direction was given on 13-4-1989. It appears, on a writ appeal filed against that order, a Division Bench of this Court vacated the direction and ordered that the writ itself should be posted for final hearing on 7-6-89. The result is that respondents 3 and 4 in whose favour the auction was confirmed illegally were able to catch the fish and derive the benefit.

6. The auction held on 1-9-88 is dearly in breach of the statutory rules issued in G.O.Ms.No. 343 and therefore the same is set aside. The 4 tanks in Vavilala village shall be leased out without public auction in favour of the petitioner Society in accordance with the Rules retained in G.O.Ms.No. 343 Panchayat Raj dated 104-78.

7. The writ petitioner is accordingly allowed. No costs. Advocate’s fee Rs. 250/-

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