Panchayat:Repo18/Law Manual Page0221
83[170. Panchayats to maintain the roads properly.- (1) It shall be the duty of the Panchayat to maintain properly the roads vested in it and to prevent encroachment on it.
(2) The Village Panchayat shall keep all public roads and important public paths in its area free from garbage, sewage and other waste materials and shall protect such roads and public paths from encroachment.
(3) The Village Panchayat may, in such manner as it may deem fit, dispose of all garbage, sewage and other waste materials collected by it while cleaning public roads, public paths and drains.]
In Pullur Periya Panchayat v. Karthiyani, 1996 (2) KLJ 599, the plaintiff's husband had died of drowning by falling into the water when the bridge over which he was walking collapsed. This Court held that lack of proper care in the construction and maintenance was the proximate and immediate cause for the collapse of the bridge. In the present case, the callous and negligent manner in which the foot bridge was constructed by the Panchayat is evident from the way in which the accident occurred. A foot bridge is intended for the use of the pedestrian commuters to cross the thodu. Therefore, it is expected to be strong enough to at least hold the weight of a human being. If the same is constructed in a manner in which it would collapse at the whiff of a breath, they cease to be public amenities but become death traps for the citizen. The citizen who suffers injuries in such incidents is entitled to claim compensation for such injuries from the Panchayat or whoever was responsible for providing such public amenity. The Panchayat has got a solemn duty to construct and maintain roads, bridges, drains and other civic amenities. The Panchayat has also got a duty to ensure that such amenities are safe. Because, an unwary pedestrian who is lulled into security by the sight of a concrete bridge would never expect it to give way the moment he steps on it. Therefore, corruption, carelessness and negligence is writ large upon such incidents. Authorities charged with the responsibilities of expending public money have also ensure that the same is utilized properly. Otherwise public amenities would become public traps for the unwary citizen. Therefore, the finding of the Court below that the Panchayat was liable to pay damages to the plaintiff for the injuries suffered by her is correct and supported not only by the evidence on record, but also by the law on the point ( Paras 11 & 12) - Executive Officer, Thrikkakara Panchayat v. Santhini and Others – 2009 (3) KHC 737 : ILR 2009 (3) Ker. 918 : 2009 (4) KLT SN78. [Pullur Periya Panchayat v. Karthiyani, 1997 KHC 29. [1996 (2) KLJ 599 : 1997 (1) KLT 144 : ILR 1997 (1) Ker. (Para 11) Referred to].
Under Section 170 of the Act and also under the provisions of the Panchayat Raj (Removal of Encroachment and Imposition and Recovery of Penalty for Unauthorised Occupation) Rules, 1996 the Panchayat has the power and in fact a duty to take steps to restore the same for public use by protecting the same from encroachment. Section 272 also provides that all roads vested in or maintained by a Panchayat shall be open to the use and enjoyment of all persons irrespective of their caste and creed or any other considerations. - Lilly and Others v. The Secretary to Government and Others – 2007 (1) KHC 340 : 2007 (1) KLT 567. [1969 KHC 28: 1969 KLT 90: 1969 KLJ 126: 1969 KLR 151; (Para 4, 8), 2006 KHC 936 : 2006 (3) KLT 801 : 2006 (2) KLJ 729; (Para 9), AIR 1957 SC 344 : 1957 SCR 1; 9Para 4,8) - Referred to; 1969 KLT 90 - Relied on.]
Ver 171. Vesting of community property or income in Village Panchayats.— Any property or income which by custom belongs to or has been administered for the benefits of, the villagers in common, or the holders in common of village land generally or of lands of a particular description or of lands under a particular source of petty irrigation shall vest in the Village Panchayat to be administered by it for the benefit of the villagers or holders aforesaid.