L.K. Koolwal v. State of Rajasthan and Ors

AIR 1988 Raj 2; 1987 (1) WLN 134
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LK Koolwal, the Petitioner, sought to enforce the Rajasthan Municipalities Act, 1959 (the Act) in the city of Jaipur. Under the Act, the Municipality has a duty to clean public places of all filth. The Petitioner contended that several areas in Jaipur were frought with sanitation problems and the Municipality was not performing its duties under the Act.

The writ petition was filed under Articles 51A and 226 of the Constitution of India seeking directive orders against the Municipality to remedy the sanitation issues that plagued several localities in the city of Jaipur.

On the issue of sanitation, the Court held that a citizen has the right to know the functioning of State machinery, especially in matters of sanitation.

As to the performance of duties of the Municipality, the Court held that a citizen has the right to move the courts if a State instrumentality or agency fails to perform its duties. It also held that that lack of funds is no excuse for not implementing the law. The Court emphasized the obligation of State instrumentalities in performing their duties under Article 51A of the Constitution of India and the right of any citizen to move the courts to enforce such duties. The Court recognized that insanitation could adversely affect the life of a citizen and lead to an early death. Therefore it was essential that the Municipality take immediate steps to rectify the situation.

The Court therefore directed the Municipality to clean the affected areas within six months and submit periodic reports before the Court on its progress.

“Insanitation leads to slow poisoning and adversely affects the life of the citizen and invites death at an earlier date than natural death.” Para. 1.

“Cleaning public streets, places and sewers, and all spaces, not being private property, which are open to the enjoyment of the public, whether such spaces are vested in the Board or not, removing noxious vegetation and all public nuisances are the primary duties of the Municipality. Furthermore, it provides that it is the primary duty of the Municipal Council to remove filth, rubbish, night-soil, odour or any other noxious or offensive matter. The primary duties will have to be performed by the Municipal Board and there cannot be any plea whether the funds are available or not; whether the staff is available or not. It is for the Municipality to see how to perform the primary duties and how to raise resources for the performance of that duty. In the performance of primary duty no excuse can be taken and can be directed also as it is a primary, mandatory and obligatory duty to perform the same.” Para. 6.