The Supreme Court Bench of Justice K.M. Joesph and Justice B.V. Nagarathna, on Friday, issued notice on an SLP filed against the order passed by the Allahabad High Court dismissing a PIL which sought specific directions for the compliance with the U.P. Panchayat Rules in the Panchayat Raj department.

The SLP filed by Advocate Imtiaz Husain assailed the order of the High Court, by which the PIL was held to be not maintainable. The High Court, in the impugned order, observed that whenever any law or rule is framed, everyone is supposed to comply with same and there cannot be any general direction for compliance.

Appearing for the Petitioner, AOR Farrukh Rasheed apprised the Bench of alleged rampant corruption in the Panchayat Raj department, Moradabad and the non-disclosure of immovable and movable properties by the employees despite the mandate of law to disclose the same. The Counsel clarified that the prayers in the SLP are concerned with Panchayat Raj offices, in response to a query by the Bench about the state officers making the declaration annually.

The SLP states that "it is mandatory to disclose full details of immovable and movable for an employee who falls within the purview of the rules U.P. Panchayat Raj rules, 1947, Schedule-II (Gram Panchayat and Nyaya Panchayat Servant Conduct rules), Rule 7 sub-rule (3) (holding or acquiring immovable property) as well as Rule 24(3) of the U.P. Public Servant (Conduct) Rules, 1956 including the Government Order dated 18.12.2018" and that "a writ of mandamus seeking enforcement of the aforesaid rules ought to have been granted by the Hon'ble High Court instead of holding the writ to be non-maintainable as the rule is in public interest and mandatory and non-compliance of the same is impermissible under any circumstances."

The PIL filed before the High Court stated that there was a serious infringement of the rules and non-disclosure of immovable and movable properties at the time of initial appointment as well as after completion of each five years of their services. It is stated, "that the documents annexed in the PIL are sufficient to show there are serious charges of corru[option amongst the Panchayat Officers which have been noticed by the state government but despite that, no actions have been taken against the errant officers."

The SLP poses questions of law whether it is mandatory for employees to disclose their assets in compliance with their service rules and whether the rules mandating disclosure of assets is an exercise in transparency and further public interest and others. The petitioner has raised a ground that the PIL filed was seeking enforcement of the rules which make it incumbent for employees to follow and that there is also reporting of corruption in the District Panchayat Officer in several newspapers highlighting the issue.

Case Title: Imtiaz Husain v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Others. SLP Diary No. 5372 of 2023

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