‘Those having over 2 kids before July 25 can fight panchayat poll’: Uttarakhand HC
The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday ruled that the two-child norm in panchayat elections will not be applicable to those candidates who have given birth to over two children before July 25 this year when the new law regarding this came into force.
On July 25, 2019, an amendment regarding the two-child norm in the Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2019 came into force.
The hill state will hold panchayat elections in 12 districts except Haridwar in three phases on October 5, October 11 and October 16.
A 43-page order was delivered by division bench of chief justice Ramesh Ranganathan and justice Alok Kumar Verma on Friday, while disposing of a bunch of seven petitions.
The order stated that “Section 8(1)(r) shall be read down as a disqualification, from contesting elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions, only to those who give birth to a third child or more after the 2019 Amendment to the (Utrarakhand Panchayati Raj) 2016 Act came into force on 25.07.2019”
Section 8(1)(r), as inserted by the 2019 amendment in Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj Act 2016, stipulates that a person “shall be disqualified for being appointed, and for being a Pradhan, Up-Pradhan and a member of the Gram Panchayat, if he has more than two living children…”
This has come as a huge relief to aspirants who wanted to contest the panchayat elections in over 7000 gram panchayats in the state but had more than two children. The court delivered a 43 page order on Thursday.
The state government in July this year had implemented the two-child policy and minimum educational qualification of class 10 criteria for aspiring candidates ahead of the panchayat elections in the state by making amendment in the Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj Act 2016.
Panchayat elections are scheduled in over 7000 gram panchayats in the in the state in three phases on October 5, 11 and 16 . Their term had ended in July. Polls will held for 12 districts together, except Haridwar, as the schedule for the district is two years behind the normal schedule.
The HC order stated that Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj Act 2016 was amended by the Utrarakhand Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2019 after the current five year term of the elected members of the panchayat raj Institutions in Uttarakhand, came to an end on July 15, 2019. The petitions had challenged the constitutional validity of Section 8(1)(r), Section 8(8)(1)(d) and Section 10-C of the Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2019 as notified on July 25, 2019.
The order pointed out that petitioners stated that as they already had more than three children prior to the enforcement of the Uttarakhand Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Act, 2019, it cannot be applied retrospectively.
The petitioners pointed out that amendments as notified on July 25, 2019, would “apply prospectively only to future elections and not to the ensuing Panchayat Raj elections which, but for the delay on the part of the State Government, ought to have been held before July 15, 2019; the right to contest elections is a constitutional right; and by giving the 2019 Act retrospective effect, persons, who were qualified to contest Panchayat Raj elections before 15.07.2019, are now illegally disqualified”.
According to the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill which resulted in the Uttarakhand Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Act 2019 being made, “It is inevitable to amend the Principal Act (Uttarakhand Panchayat Raj Act 2016)in this perspective to make provision ….to prohibit holding of two office simultaneously and to determine the educational qualification for election and to make ineligible the contestant, having more than two living children from Panchayat election for the purpose of promoting family planning and to make clear the procedure of election as well as to rectify certain errors of the principal Act.”