Bengaluru: 53 gram panchayat members across Karnataka were disqualified for various reasons such as corruption and absenteeism among others. MK Kempe Gowda, the director of the panchayat raj said that it is a routine exercise that they have carried out. The exercise was based on complaints and investigations of individual cases.

According to the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act 1993, a gram panchayat member sentenced by a criminal court for a jail term exceeding three months is subject to disqualification. Also, if a panchayat member does not appear for four consecutive general meetings, he is also liable for disqualification.

In April alone, around 23 members were disqualified from the gram panchayat. The district level officials received complaints against some members. They then visited the concerned members of the gram panchayat to conduct an investigation. Within two and a half months, all 53 members were disqualified.

The principal secretary of rural development and panchayat raj said that they had received reports from the investigating officer and their actions were based on that.

Few cases against the gram panchayat members who were disqualified were that of panchayat members not appearing at the general meetings and not informing the presiding officer that they would be unable to attend the meeting. Apart from those there were several cases of corruption and misuse of funds that were meant for Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Few gram panchayat members upset about their disqualification have questioned the court, claiming that their disqualification was based on a political motive.

Panchayat officials said that by-polls will be held with due procedure to fill the vacancies left after the disqualification of the members.