A day after the state assembly amended the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act to stipulate minimum educational qualification for those contesting the gram panchayat elections, the state election commission (SEC) on Tuesday issued the schedule for conducting the fifth panchayat elections in three phases from October 4.
The Haryana government is taking a cue from Rajasthan, where an identical legislation under challenge was not stayed by the Jaipur bench of the Rajasthan high court, primarily because the high court refused to interfere in view of the constitutional bar. Article 243-O (b) of the Constitution prohibits courts from interfering in the election process once it has started, ruled the Rajasthan high court.
The controversial Haryana amendment bill, which replaced an ordinance promulgated by the state government in August, lays down that contestants for elections to panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) should not be chargesheeted by a court for a grave criminal offence; should have cleared their electricity bills; should not figure on the cooperative loan defaulters’ list; and must have a functional toilet at their home. Parliamentary affairs minister Ram Bilas Sharma had told the House that the ordinance which was stayed by the Punjab and Haryana high court had been withdrawn by the state government.
State election commissioner Rajeev Sharma said the panchayat polls would be held in three phases: October 4, 11 and 18. The polls will elect panches, sarpanches of gram panchayats and members of panchayat samitis.
With the announcement of the elections, the model code of conduct has come into force in the area of panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) where the polls will be conducted.
Counting of votes for panches and sarpanches will begin immediately after the end of the polls while for members of panchayat samitis and zila parishads, it will be held on October 21.