Published on: December 02, 2023 at 12:05 IST
The Kerala High Court recently ruled that the State Government lacks the authority to compel Municipalities to use their own funds for organizing ‘Nava Kerala Sadas’.
This program aims to address community issues in sectors like health, education, agriculture, and housing, with the involvement of local self-governments.
The Court’s decision came in response to a plea filed by the Chairperson of Paravur Municipality, contesting the State Government’s directive permitting local authorities to allocate funds for the said program.
In examining various statutes including the Kerala Municipality Act of 1994, the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act of 1994, and the Constitution (74th) Amendment Act, the Single Judge Bench, led by Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas, concluded that the State Government lacks the power to mandate a municipality to use its own funds for a purpose not directly linked to its functions.
The Court highlighted Section 283(6) of the Municipalities Act, asserting that it doesn’t empower the Government to dictate a municipality’s expenses for a non-municipal function.
The Court noted that the directive in question, asking for financial contributions to ‘Nava Kerala Sadas’, oversteps the Act’s boundaries by compelling such expenditure from municipal funds without the council’s decision.
The plea argued that the State’s order infringed upon local government autonomy by mandating financial contributions.
However, the State contended that the order merely granted permission for self-government institutions to spend on the program from their own funds, emphasizing the authority granted by Section 283(6) of the Kerala Municipality Act, 1994.
Dismissing this argument, the Court highlighted that the Act doesn’t confer authority on Secretaries to incur expenses without the council’s decision.
Consequently, the Court stayed the part of the order empowering Secretaries to spend municipal funds until further resolution of the case, clarifying that any contributions to ‘Nava Kerala Sadas’ must align with the Municipal Council’s decision in accordance with the law.