VILLAGE COMMUNITIES ORDINANCE

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title.

PART I

VILLAGE AREAS

2. Application of Ordinance to divisional revenue officers' divisions.

3. Subdivision of divisions into village areas.

4. Application of Ordinance to Urban and Town Council areas.

5. Alteration of boundaries and extent of village areas.

6. Orders to be laid before Senate and the House of Representatives.

PART II

ELECTION OF VILLAGE COMMITTEES

7. Village Committee to be constituted for each village area.

8. Wards and representation.

9. First general election of members.

10. Commencement of term of office of Village Committee and date of constitution of such Committee.

11. Term of office of the members elected at the first and each subsequent general election.

12. Subsequent general elections.

13. Vacation of office by operation of law.

14. Refusal or resignation of office.

15. Filling of casual vacancies.

16. Election for more than one ward.

17. First meeting of a Committee and meetings for the election of the Chairman.

18. Quorum for election of Chairman.

19. Mode of election of Chairman.

20. Procedure for election of Vice-Chairman.

21. Power to nominate Chairman or Vice-Chairman when not elected by Village Committee.

22. Term of office and powers and duties of Chairman.

23. Term of office, powers and duties of Vice-Chairman.

24. A member to preside at meetings in the absence of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

25. Meetings of Committee.

26. Quorum.

27. Language in which business is to be conducted.

PART III

STATUS, POWERS, AND DUTIES OF VILLAGE COMMITTEES

28. Village Committees to be corporations.

29. Decisions and acts of Village Committees.

30. Minutes.

31. Property deemed to be vested in Village Committees.

32. Further property vested in Village Committees.

33. Transfer to Village Committees of the rights and liabilities of Local Boards or Sanitary Boards.

34. Special provisions as to elections.

35. Use of property and revenue.

36. Powers of Village Committees.

37. Authority to levy land tax.

38. Licence duties.

39. Tax on vehicles and animals.

40. Water-rates and conservancy rates.

41. Communal fund.

42. Power to make by-laws.

43. Power to raise loans.

44. Village Committee to be proper authority under Cemeteries and Burials Ordinance.

45. Definition of "village works”.

PART IV

SUPERVISION AND CONTROL OF VILLAGE COMMITTEES

46. Limitation of powers of Village Committees.

47. Application of section 46.

48. Rules as to administration of fund and property.

49. Deposit and use of communal fund.

50. Interest on loans raised by Village Committee.

PART V

SUPPLEMENTAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO VILLAGE COMMITTEES

51. Payment of costs awarded against Village Committees.

52. Rules as to meetings, land tax and finance.

53. Publication of by-laws and translation in village area.

54. Removal of Chairman and dissolution of Committee.

55. Consequences of order for removal of Chairman or dissolution of Committee.

56. Breach of by-laws to be an offence.

57. Annual report of Commissioner of Local Government on affairs of each Village Committee.

PART VI

GENERAL

58. Interpretation.

FIRST SCHEDULE

SECOND SCHEDULE

THIRD SCHEDULE

1924,

60 of 1938,

11 of 1940,

24 of 1940,

31 of 1940,

50 of 1941,

54 of 1942,

58 of 1943,

44 of 1944,

12 of 1945,

53 of 1946,

17 of 1947,

39 of 1951,

8 of 1952,

38 of 1953,

12 of 1956.

AN ORDINANCE to amend and consolidate the law relating to village communities.

[Date of Commencement: 1st November, 1924]

1. Short title.

This Ordinance may be cited as the Village Communities Ordinance.

PART I

VILLAGE AREAS

2. Application of Ordinance to divisional revenue officers' divisions.

(1) It shall be lawful for the Minister by Order published in the Gazette, to declare that any divisional revenue officer's division or any part thereof shall, from a date to be named therein, be brought within the operation of this Ordinance.

(2) On such Order being published as aforesaid, such division or part thereof shall, from the said date, be within the operation of this Ordinance.

[S 2 am by s 4 of Act 60 of 1938.]

3. Subdivision of divisions into village areas.

Every divisional revenue officer's division or part thereof brought within the operation of this Ordinance shall be subdivided into village areas consisting of one or more villages or groups of villages in such manner as the Minister may, by Order published in the Gazette, appoint:

Provided that, where, in the opinion of the Minister, it is unnecessary that any such division or part thereof should be subdivided in manner aforesaid, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, by Order published in the Gazette, declare that such division or part thereof shall not be subdivided, and in such case such division or part thereof shall be deemed to be a village area within the meaning of this Ordinance.

[S 3 am by s 4 of Act 60 of 1938.]

4. Application of Ordinance to Urban and Town Council areas.

For the purpose of giving to a Rural Court jurisdiction over an urban area within the administrative limits of an Urban Council or Town Council, any such urban area may, subject to the requirements of section 2 of the Rural Courts Ordinance, by Order under the provisions of this Part of this Ordinance, be brought within the operation of this Ordinance and be included in any village area:

[S 4 am by s 4 of Act 60 of 1938.]

Provided that—

(a) no inhabitant of any such urban area shall be qualified to vote at any election of a member of the Village Committee of that village area, or to be elected or to sit or to vote as a member of such Committee;

[Proviso (a) am by s 90 of Act 53 of 1946.]

(b) no inhabitant of such urban area shall be liable to pay—

(i) any rate or tax imposed and levied by the Village Committee under section 37, section 39, or section 40; or

(ii) any licence duty imposed and levied by the Village Committee under section 38;

[Proviso (b) am by s 2 of Act 54 of 1942; s 52 of Act 17 of 1947.]

(c) no by-law made or deemed by virtue of any written law to have been made under this Ordinance shall have any operation in any such urban area; and

(d) section 31 shall not apply to any property belonging to the Urban Council or Town Council.

5. Alteration of boundaries and extent of village areas.

(1) For the purposes of this Ordinance the Minister may, from time to time, by Order published in the Gazette

(i) alter and redefine the limits of any village area;

(ii) divide any village area into two or more village areas;

(iii) amalgamate two or more village areas or portions thereof;

(iv) constitute new village areas.

(2) Anything in this Ordinance to the contrary notwithstanding, the Minister may, by Order published in the Gazette, provide from time to time for all matters which he may deem to be necessary to give effect to any alteration, definition, division, amalgamation or constitution made under subsection (1), including—

(a) the dissolution of any Village Committee existing in any village area concerned and the election of such fresh Committee or Committees as may be necessary;

(b) the continuance or the application of the by-laws in force in any village area concerned or any part thereof at the time of the Order under subsection (1);

(c) the transfer, apportionment and adjustment or the property, rights, debts, liabilities and obligations of the Village Committee of any of the village areas concerned;

(d) the extension, curtailment or redefinition of the territorial jurisdiction of any Rural Court established in the divisional revenue officer's division or part thereof in which any of the village areas concerned is situated;

(e) the collection and levy of rates, taxes, tolls, penalties, fines and other sums of money which may be or become due to the Village Committee of any of the village areas concerned;

[S 5(2)(e) am by s 3 of Act 54 of 1942.]

(f) pending contracts and legal proceedings to which the Village Committee of any of the areas concerned may be a party.

[S 5 am by s 4 of Act 60 of 1938.]

6. Orders to be laid before Senate and the House of Representatives.

Every Order, made under the provisions of this Part of this Ordinance shall be laid before the Senate and the House of Representatives as soon as conveniently may be, and may, at any time within forty days of its being so laid before the Senate or House of Representatives,or at any of the three meetings of the Senate or House of Representatives, next succeeding such date, by resolution of the Senate or House of Representatives, be disallowed, but without prejudice to anything that may have been done thereunder.

[S 6 am by s 4 of Act 60 of 1938.]

PART II

ELECTION OF VILLAGE COMMITTEES

7. Village Committee to be constituted for each village area.

A Village Committee in accordance with the provisions of this Ordinance shall be constituted for each village area.

[S 7 am by s 90 of Act 53 of 1946.]

8. Wards and representation.

(1) For the purposes of the election of the Village Committee every village headman's division in a village area shall be deemed to be a ward of that area:

Provided, however, that no village headman's division or part thereof which is within the limits of any area to which section 4 applies shall be deemed to be a ward or part of a ward for the purposes of this section; and

[S 8(1) am by s 4 of Act 60 of 1938.]

Provided further that the Minister, may, by Notification published in the Gazette, subdivide any such village headman's division or the combined area of two or more such divisions into two or more wards, or amalgamate two or more village headmen's divisions or any portions thereof into one single ward, with such limits as may be specified in the Notification, and thereupon each such subdivision or amalgamated division shall be deemed to be a ward within the meaning of this section.

[Proviso am by s 2 of Act 58 of 1943.]

(2) Each of the wards of a village area within the meaning of this section shall be entitled to return one member to the Village Committee for that area.

9. First general election of members.

Where a Village Committee is to be constituted for any village area under this Ordinance, a general election in accordance with the provisions of written law for the time being applicable in that behalf shall be held for the purpose of electing the first members of the Committee.

[S 9 am by s 90 of Act 53 of 1946.]

10. Commencement of term of office of Village Committee and date of constitution of such Committee.

The term of office of a Village Committee to be constituted for any village area under this Ordinance shall commence on such date as the Minister1 may appoint by Order published in the Gazette. Such date shall be deemed to be the date of the constitution of the Committee for all the purposes of this Ordinance, and the Committee shall be deemed to be duly constituted on that date notwithstanding that a member has not been elected for any ward of that area.

[S 10 am by s 90 of Act 53 of 1946.]

11. Term of office of the members elected at the first and each subsequent general election.

(1) The term of office of each member of a Village Committee elected at a general election shall commence—

(a) in the case of the first general election, on the date specified by the Minister by Order under section 10; and

(b) in the case of any general election subsequent to the first general election, on the first day of July next succeeding the date of the election or on such other date as the Minister may appoint by Order published in the Gazette.

[S 11(1) am by s 90 of Act 53 of 1946.]

(2) The term of office of each member of a Village Committee elected at the first or any subsequent general election shall expire on the last day of June of the third year after such election or on such other date as may be appointed by the Minister under subsection (3).

[S 11(2) am by s 2 of Act 38 of 1953.]

(3) The Minister may by Order published in the Gazette

(a) curtail the term of office referred to in subsection (2) by appointing, in substitution for the last day of June of the year specified in that subsection, the last day of any month in that year or in the year immediately preceding that year; and

(b) extend such term by appointing, in substitution for the last day of June of the year specified in subsection (2) or the day appointed under paragraph (a) of this subsection, the last day of any month in any year subsequent to the year so specified or appointed, and thereafter from time to time extend such term by appointing, in substitution for the date of expiry of such term specified in the last Order, the last day of any month in any year subsequent to the year specified in that Order:

Provided, however, that the period by which such term is extended or the aggregate of the periods by which such term is from time to time extended shall not exceed twenty-four months.

[S 11(3) am by s 2 of Act 38 of 1953.]

12. Subsequent general elections.

Where the term of office of the members elected at the first or any subsequent general election is due to expire under section 11, a general election in accordance with the provisions of written law for the time being applicable in that behalf shall be held for the purpose of electing new members in place of such members.

[S 12 am by s 90 of Act 53 of 1946.]

13. Vacation of office by operation of law.

Any member of a Village Committee who is absent without leave of the Committee from more than three consecutive meetings of the Committee shall ipso facto vacate his office.

[S 13 am by s 90 of Act 53 of 1946.]

14. Refusal or resignation of office.

Where any person who is elected as a member of a Village Committee decides for any reason not to serve as a member thereof, he may relinquish the office—

(a) by a written communication of his refusal of office to the elections officer of the district in which the village area for which the Committee is constituted is situated, at any time before the date fixed for the first meeting of the Committee to be held after his election; or

(b) by a written communication of his resignation of office to such elections officer, either direct or through the Chairman, at any time after such first meeting.

[S 14 am by s 90 of Act 53 of 1946.]

15. Filling of casual vacancies.

In the event of any member of a Village Committee dying, or vacating his office by virtue of the provisions of section 13, or refusing or resigning office under section 14, a by-election in accordance with the provisions of written law for the time being applicable in that behalf shall, unless the Minister by Order published in the Gazette otherwise directs, be held for the purpose of filling up such vacancy; and the person so elected shall hold office until the next succeeding general election of members of that Committee.

[S 15 am by s 4 of Act 60 of 1938; s 90 of Act 53 of 1946.]

16. Election for more than one ward.

No person shall be entitled to be elected as a member for more than one ward of a village area, and in the event of any person being so elected, the elections officer of the district in which the area is situated shall forthwith, by notice in writing served upon such person, call upon him to declare, within seven days from the date of service, for which ward he desires to be a member, and in default of such declaration being made, the elections officer may himself determine for which ward he is to be a member; and upon such declaration or determination, as the case may be, being made, such person shall ipso facto vacate his seat as a member for any other ward, and the provisions of section 15 shall thereupon apply.

[S 16 am by s 90 of Act 53 of 1946.]

17. First meeting of a Committee and meetings for the election of the Chairman.

(1) The Assistant Commissioner shall, as soon as possible after the election of a Village Committee, convene the first meeting thereof by notice in writing addressed to and served upon each elected member of that Committee not less than five days before the date of the meeting. Where service of any such notice cannot for any reason be effected personally on any member, the notice shall be deemed to have been duly served if it is left at that member's last known place of abode.

[S 17(1) am by s 4 of Act 60 of 1938.]

(2) Every notice under subsection (1) shall specify the date, time and place of the meeting, and the date specified shall be within the period of one month next succeeding the date appointed for the commencement of the term of office of the Committee, or in the case of a Committee elected as successor to a Committee going out of office otherwise than by effluxion of time, within the period of one month next succeeding the date on which the election or nomination of the members of the new Committee is completed.

[S 17(2) am by s 2 of Act 31 of 1940.]

(3) Where for any reason the meeting is not held on the date specified in the notice under subsection (1), the Assistant Commissioner may, by such further notice or notices as may be necessary, convene the meeting for any other date, but so however that such other date is within the period of one month prescribed in subsection (2).

[S 17(3) am by s 2 of Act 31 of 1940.]

(4) At the meeting convened under subsection (1) or subsection (3), as the case may be, the members of the Committee shall elect one of their number to be the Chairman of the Committee.

[S 17(4) am by s 2 of Act 31 of 1940.]

(5) Whenever the office of Chairman of a Village Committee falls vacant during the term of office of the Committee the Assistant Commissioner shall, within two weeks of his receiving information of the vacancy, by notice or notices served in accordance with the provisions of subsection (1) or subsection (3), convene a meeting for the election of a new Chairman, and the date specified for the meeting in such notice or notices shall be such as to ensure that a new Chairman is elected within the period of six weeks next succeeding the occurrence of the vacancy.

[S 17(5) am by s 2 of Act 31 of 1940.]

(6) Every meeting under this section shall be held at the place and time and on the date specified in the notice convening that meeting, and shall, until the election of a Chairman, be presided over by the Assistant Commissioner or by an officer of Government, other than a divisional revenue officer, deputed by the Assistant Commissioner to act as presiding officer.

[S 17(6) am by s 2 of Act 31 of 1940.]

18. Quorum for election of Chairman.

No election of a Chairman shall be held at any meeting summoned under section 17, unless there is present a quorum consisting of not less than half the number of the members elected to the Committee.

[S 18 am by s 4 of Act 60 of 1938.]

19. Mode of election of Chairman.

(1) Any member of a Village Committee may with his consent be proposed and seconded for election as Chairman by any other member present, and the members present shall thereupon elect, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2), a Chairman from among the members proposed and seconded for election as Chairman.

(2) —

(a) Where only one candidate is proposed and seconded for election as Chairman, the person (hereinafter in this section referred to as the "presiding officer”) who presides at the meeting at which the election takes place shall, without question put, declare that candidate to be elected.

(b) Where two or more candidates are proposed and seconded for election as Chairman, the mode of election shall be by either open or secret voting, according as the members present may by resolution determine; and, if the number of votes cast on such resolution is equally divided, the determination of the mode of election shall be made by lot to be drawn in the presence of the presiding officer in such manner as he shall direct.

(c) Where it is determined under paragraph (b) that the election of a Chairman shall be by open voting, the presiding officer shall take the votes by calling the name of each member present and asking him how he desires to vote and recording the votes accordingly. A member may state that he declines to vote, and in such case the presiding officer shall record that such member declined to vote.

The presiding officer shall declare the result of the voting.

(d) Where it is determined under paragraph (b) that the election of a Chairman shall be by secret voting, the election shall be by ballot.

(e) Where more than two candidates are proposed and seconded for election as Chairman and no candidate receives at the first voting more votes than the aggregate of the votes received by the remaining candidates, one candidate shall be excluded from the election as hereinafter provided and the voting shall proceed, one candidate being excluded from the election after each subsequent voting, until a candidate receives at a voting more votes than the aggregate of the votes received by the remaining candidates at that voting, or, as the case may be, until voting in respect of two candidates only is held and completed.

(f) Where there are three or more candidates at a voting, the determination as to which candidate is to be excluded from the election under paragraph (e) after that voting shall be made as follows—

(i) if the number of votes received by one candidate is lower than the number received by each remaining candidate, the candidate receiving the lowest number shall be excluded;

(ii) if each of all the candidates receives an equal number of votes, or if each of two or more candidates receives an equal number of votes which is less than the number received by the remaining candidate or each remaining candidate, one of the candidates receiving the equal number shall be excluded, the determination as to which candidate is to be excluded being made by lot to be drawn in the presence of the presiding officer in such manner as he shall direct.

(g) Where there are two candidates at any voting and the number of votes cast is equally divided and the addition of one vote would entitle one of the candidates to be elected as Chairman, the determination of the candidate to whom the additional vote shall be deemed to have been given shall be made by lot to be drawn in the presence of the presiding officer in such manner as he shall direct.

[S 19 am by s 8 of Act 39 of 1951.]

20. Procedure for election of Vice-Chairman.

(1) The first Vice-Chairman of a Village Committee shall be elected at the meeting held under section 17.

(2) Every vacancy in the office of Vice-Chairman of a Committee after the first election to that office shall be filled by election held at the ordinary meeting of the Committee next succeeding the date on which the office became vacant.

[S 20(2) am by s 4 of Act 60 of 1938.]

(3) The provisions of section 19 shall apply to the election of a Vice-Chairman in like manner as though every reference in that section to "Chairman” were a reference to "Vice-Chairman”.

[S 20(3) am by s 58 of Act 39 of 1951.]

21. Power to nominate Chairman or Vice-Chairman when not elected by Village Committee.

Where for any reason the members of a Village Committee fail to elect a Chairman in accordance with the provisions of section 17 or a Vice-Chairman in accordance with the provisions of section 20, it shall be lawful for the Minister1 to nominate one of the members of that Village Committee to be the Chairman or the Vice-Chairman, as the case may be, and the member so nominated shall be entitled to exercise the like powers, shall perform the like duties, and shall hold office for the like term, as a Chairman or a Vice-Chairman duly elected by that Village Committee.

[S 21 am by s 4 of Act 31 of 1940.]

22. Term of office and powers and duties of Chairman.

(1) The Chairman of a Village Committee shall hold office for the term of office of the Committee, unless he resigns the office earlier or ceases for any cause to be or to be qualified to be a member of the Committee.

(2) The Chairman shall preside over every meeting of the Committee held for the election of a Vice-Chairman and over every other meeting at which he is present, and shall be the chief executive officer of the Committee; and all executive acts and functions, which are by this Ordinance directed or empowered to be done or discharged by the Committee, may, unless the contrary intention appears from the context, be done or discharged by the Chairman:

Provided always that the Chairman, in the exercise of his powers under this section, shall, except in matters expressly committed to him, act in conformity with such resolutions as may from time to time be passed by the Committee.

(3) The Chairman may at any time, without vacating his office as a member, resign the office of Chairman by a written communication addressed to the Assistant Commissioner. The resignation by the Chairman of his office of Chairman or his office as a member shall have no effect until such resignation has been accepted by the Assistant Commissioner; and the Assistant Commissioner may refuse to accept such resignation if he has reason to believe that an Order removing the Chairman from office is to be made by the Minister under section 54.

(4) On vacating office whether by operation of law or by resignation, the Chairman of a Village Committee shall hand over charge of all minute books, accounts, records, furniture and other property of the Committee, either personally or by a duly authorized person—

(a) to the person duly elected to succeed him as Chairman, within forty-eight hours of the receipt of notice of the election of such successor; or

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