Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

Mumbai: Observing that in a democracy, a leader cannot be imposed, the Bombay High Court recently denied any relief to a woman, who challenged her removal from the post of Gatneta (Group leader) of the Indian National Congress in Shrirampur Panchayat Samiti. The HC noted that the other members of the elected Samiti had no confidence in the woman as she had indulged in "anti-party" activities.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Gangapurwalla and Shrikant Kulkarni said, "In a democracy, a leader is not imposed; a leader is elected."

"Once the birth of a leader in a group is by way of election by the group, the group leader thus elected cannot be replaced otherwise than through the very same process of the election in the group, in the absence of any rules to the contra," the judges held.

The bench was seized with a plea filed by a woman leader challenging the resolution passed by the Samiti removing her from the post of group leader of the Congress Party and appointing another member of her outfit to the said post.

The Samiti to justify its resolution argued that it removed her from the post as she was working against the party's interest. It also claimed that she was stripped from the post by following the due procedure and unanimously.

"The democratic way to change Gatneta or Group leader was by way of a majority decision by the same group, which has earlier selected its Gatneta," the judges noted.

The bench further noted that as per the initial resolution appointing the petitioner woman as the group leader, there was a clause that she could be removed after the district president of the Congress party convenes a meeting with the Samiti and passes a resolution to that effect with a majority of group members consenting to the same.

"It appears that in tune with the initial resolution the existing district president of the Indian National Congress Party called the meeting and all group members were intimated about it. But the petitioner seems to have remained absent for the said meeting while others attended the meeting and passed the impugned resolution removing her from the post," the bench said.

"The decision is taken in a democratic way. The group members have the right to change the Gatneta when the Gatneta has lost the confidence of the members," the judges held.

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