AP High Court suspends GO on empowering Village Revenue Officers

Andhra Pradesh High Court
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Andhra Pradesh High Court

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The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday issued interim orders suspending GO No 2 of the State Government transferring powers of panchayat sarpanches and secretaries to Village Revenue Officers.

Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday issued interim orders suspending GO No 2 of the State Government transferring powers of panchayat sarpanches and secretaries to Village Revenue Officers.

The petition challenging the GO was filed by Tokalavanipalem Sarpanch Krishna Mohan of Guntur district. The High Court questioned the State Government over introducing village secretariats while the panchayats and sarpanches were existing.

The GO No 2 issued on March 25 had brought 15,004 village secretariats, its 1.34 lakh staff and 2.66 lakh volunteers under the fold of the Revenue department.

The salaries and grant of leave of absence, was to be handled by the Village Revenue Officers (VROs). As a result, the sarpanches would remain nominal without any control over the secretariats. In June, the High Court reserved its order on a petition that opposed GO Ms No2 (dated March 25, 2021) through which certain powers of the village administration were sought to be transferred to the VROs.

Krishna Mohan argued that the GO was issued in violation of the Constitution and the spirit of Article 73 of the Constitution Amendment Act.

His contention was that academic qualification of panchayat secretaries was graduation while for the VROs it was just SSC and hence panchayat secretaries were more competent to provide effective administration.

Besides, the VROs are under the supervision of Tahsildars who oversee the revenue administration hierarchy while the panchayat secretaries are accountable to the Mandal Parishad Development Officers (MPDOs), District Panchayat Officers and Secretary (Panchayat Raj & Rural Development) at the district and State levels respectively.

The advocate on behalf of the State Government argued that the new system was introduced to implement the welfare schemes efficiently and make them reach beneficiaries. He said it was meant for administration convenience and not to create any parallel power centres.

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