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M. Pentiah and Ors. v. Muddala Veeramallappa and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (07 Nov 1960)

How long does a “caretaker” committee function



The Supreme Court of India in 1960 was required to answer whether a municipal committee could continue exercise of its authority after the Act by which it was constituted was repealed by another.

The committee in the instant case had been constituted under the Hyderabad Municipal and Town Committees Act 1951 to manage land for the development of Hyderabad. Even after the act under which it was formed was repealed, members of the committee continued to sell land held by it. The Petitioners objected that the committee had been superseded and acts of its members were ultra vires.

The Court adjudged first if the members of the committee under the were appointed for an indefinite durtion. Noting that their terms required election every three years, it found that at the time of sale the members were lawfully part of the committee. Justice Subba Rao reiterated the principle: “in every case it is for a corporation of this kind to show that it has affirmatively an authority to do particular acts; but that in applying that principle, the rule is not to be applied too narrowly, and the corporation is entitled to do not only that which is expressly authorised but that which is reasonably incidental to or consequential upon that which is in terms authorized.”

Though Justice Sarkar acquiesced with the judgment of the court, he offered a differing opinion. Terming a committee under repealed law a “caretaker committee”, he disagreed that members in the instant case would conclude the entirety of their terms. Instead, their tenure would expire when the new committee under the repealing act was formed.

The court held the committee’s actions to be valid and within the remit accorded to it.


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