SC to hear Haryana on law on panchayat poll criteria

  • PTI, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 19, 2015 11:46 IST
Supreme Court of India, New Delhi. (HT Photo)

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on Monday the plea on which it had stayed the operation of recent changes in Haryana election laws that have made certain educational qualifications compulsory for contesting the panchayat polls.

In view of Thursday’s order, the Haryana government rushed to the court and sought an urgent hearing on the entire issue saying that the stay on the recent amendments in the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015, amounts to “virtually” staying the election process in the state.
Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the state, said such laws have been passed in Rajasthan also and the Supreme Court did not find it fit to stay them.

A bench, comprising justices J Chelameswar and AM Sapre, which had issued notice and sought the state’s reply within four weeks, has now fixed the matter for hearing on Monday.

The court stayed the provisions prescribing minimum educational qualifications for panchayat poll contestants after the petitioner alleged that the Act had discriminatory provisions that restrains persons from contesting elections on ground of educational qualifications.

The amended law fixes matriculation as an essential qualification for general candidates contesting the panchayat elections, while the qualification for women (general) and Scheduled Caste candidates has been fixed at Class 8.

However, in case of a woman candidate belonging to the SC category contesting the election for the post of panch, the minimum qualification would be Class 5, the law says.

The amended law was passed on the concluding day of the monsoon session of the Haryana Assembly this September.

The lawyer for the petitioner said that 83% of Dalit women and 71% of women in general and 56% men would be excluded from contesting the panchayat polls by this law, which affected the fundamental right of the candidates.

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