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Two-child norm for panchayat polls: Rajasthan govt plans to change law to exclude disabled kids

Responding to a petition filed at the Rajasthan High Court in Jodhpur, the government has assured that an amendment to the provision will be brought in, under which physically challenged children will not be counted.

jaipur Updated: Nov 27, 2017 20:41 IST
Sachin Saini/Dinesh Bothra
Rajasthan,Two-child norm,Panchayat law
Women stand in a queue to vote for Ajmer district panchayat elections in 2016. A man from Jalore district moved the Rajasthan High Court after he was disqualified from contesting panchayat elections because he has three children, including a disabled one.(PTI Photo)

The state government is considering amending a provision of the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, which prohibits a person with more than two children from contesting rural local body elections.

Responding to a petition filed at the Rajasthan High Court in Jodhpur, the government has assured that an amendment to the provision will be brought in, under which physically challenged children will not be counted. The high court has ordered the government in the second week of this month to submit a compliance report in four weeks.

Sources in the government claimed that the panchayati raj department has suggested that amendments should not be brought in as it would violate the Centre’s Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. Section 13(2) of the 2016 Act states: ‘The appropriate government shall ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life and have the right to equal recognition everywhere as any other person before the law.’

The law department has also opined that section 13(2) in the central Act is clear on the inviolability of the legal rights of persons with disabilities, the sources said.

But the state’s top law officer said relaxation has been given to parents of disabled persons in government services. “I have sent a positive opinion to the state government with regard to proposed amendment to the (panchayati raj) Act. The government will soon decide on the amendment,” said KL Thakur, additional advocate general.

Chief secretary Ashok Jain told HT, “The issue is under consideration of the government and the opinion of the advocate general has been taken.”

Petitioner Shrawan Singh Rao (43), a resident of Borly village in Jalore district, was disqualified from contesting panchayat elections because he has three children.

Singh challenged last year the validity of section 19(l) of the Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, which disqualifies a person having more than two children from contesting elections; while counting the number of children, no exception is provided to a person having a physically handicapped child.

The petitioner’s counsel, Hemant Ballani, said Singh Rao married Damini Shravan Singh in 1994 and in 1996, they got a boy child, Vivek Singh, who has been suffering from cerebral palsy, a very rare disease, since birth.

“The petitioner’s son suffering from cerebral palsy has irregular posture and spinal curvature, and mental impairment. Due to this physical and mental impairment, Vivek is suffering from more than 70% permanent disability, and is totally dependent on the petitioner and his wife,” Ballani said.

The counsel said the petitioner was disqualified from contesting panchayat elections as he has three children, including the disabled. “The state government has made amendments in service rules, under which physically handicapped children will not be counted. We challenged this discrepancy in the high court,” Ballani said.

“The court intervened and ordered for necessary amendments in the rules. Now the government has assured amendment in four weeks.”

DR Mehta, founder and chief patron of Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Samiti, said, “It (changing the panchayat Act) will be a violation of the 2016 central Act as it stands today.”

First Published: Nov 27, 2017 20:41 IST