Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), led by actor Kamal Haasan, has filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the State government to order conduct of Grama Sabha meetings in all village panchayats across the State as per the Tamil Nadu Grama Sabha (Quorum and Procedure for Convening and Conducting of Meetings) Rules of 1998.
The party, represented by its general secretary- organisation (North and East) A.G. Mourya, stated that it had sent a representation to the Rural Development Secretary as well as Director on October 7 for conducting Grama Sabha meetings. However, it was not considered by the officials concerned and hence it had no other option but to approach the court.
In its affidavit, the party pointed out that the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act of 1994 highlights significant role to be played by Grama Sabha, a body consisting of local residents, in the decision-making process of panchayats. The law requires Grama Sabha to meet at least twice a year and makes it mandatory for its suggestions to be given due consideration by panchayats.
“People use the forum to discuss local governance and development and make need-based plans for the village. Panchayats implement development programmes under the overarching mandate, supervision and monitoring of the Grama Sabha. It is submitted that all decisions of the Panchayat are taken through the Grama Sabha,” the party said.
Since such was the importance of those bodies, the Director of Rural Development had ordered for meeting of Grama Sabha across the State on October 2. Due to the pandemic COVID-19, the Director had also issued elaborate guidelines on September 26 listing out the procedures to be followed while convening those meetings.
However, without any rhyme or reason, the individual District Collectors called off the Grama Sabha meetings on October 1, the petitioner party said and claimed that such cancellation was against the 1994 Act as well as 1998 Rules.