The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a stay on the law that makes educational qualification compulsory for contesting panchayat elections in Haryana.
The three-phase elections to panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) in Haryana, which has nearly 72,000 posts in panchayat samitis and zila parishads, will be held on October 4, 11 and 18.
On September 7, the Haryana Assembly passed a bill under which candidates for panchayat elections in the state will have to ensure academic qualifications and fulfil other conditions.
Under the new bill, contesting candidates are required to have a minimum qualification of Class 10.
Scheduled Caste and women candidates are required to be Class 8 pass, and women candidates from the Scheduled Caste category will have to have passed Class 5 for being eligible to contest the polls.
The bill also made it mandatory for contesting candidates to ensure that they have a functional toilet at home.
Three days ago, the Punjab and Haryana high court refused to stay the bill, an amendment to the Panchayati Raj Act, saying it was not in the “interest of justice”.
“We can’t grant you something, which means allowing petition… (but) can we stay when it (election process) is underway… prima facie, it appears you have a case. But we are restraining ourselves,” the division bench of justice SK Mittal and justice MS Chauhan said while replying to queries from a battery of lawyers who questioned the government move.
'60% will be ineligible to contest'
The petitioner against the amendment bill had told the court that the government move will render 60% of the state’s population ineligible to contest the polls.
“The present regime does not have people to contest in villages. How can such a move be justified when Right to Education Act implemented in the state provides compulsory education up to Class 8 only?” the petitioner argued.
Oppn hails SC stay, Bishnoi says govt timing was wrong
In a swift reaction, INLD leader Dushyant Chautala tweeted: “It’s a victory of democracy. SC stays amendments. Govt should immediately reverse the orders and allow fair participation of all in the panchayat elections.
Haryana Congress legislature party leader Kiran Choudhry also took to Twitter shortly after to say, “We respect this decision in the interest of democracy.”
Reacting to the development, Haryana Janhit Congress leader Kuldeep Bishnoi tweeted, “I welcome the Supreme Court decision. The government's decision was right but timing was wrong.”
Social activist Jagmati Sangwan shared on social media, “(It’s a) matter of great pleasure for all of us that SC has stayed the amendment made by Haryana Govt which was anti-constitutional.”