Upholding the Haryana government’s decision to fix minimum educational qualifications for Panchayat poll contestants, the Supreme Court, on 10 December, also upheld that to gain eligibility to contest polls, the aspirants should have toilets at home.
The court rejected the petition challenging the validity of a law authorising certain eligibility criteria for aspirants to contest Panchayat polls—Class 10 pass for men, Class 8 pass for women and Class 5 pass for Dalits. The woman who filed the plea said that it was tool to to keep away a majority of people from taking part in polls.
There will be far-reaching implications to the SC verdict as half of Haryana’s population will be made ineligible to contest polls under the new law, it was felt.
The SC’s verdict will also make way for holding Panchayat polls in Haryana, which has 72,000 posts in panchayat samitis and zila parishads. Earlier, the polls, which were to be held on October 4, 11 and 18, were stayed by the court.
Moreover, with the country giving importance to agriculture sector, anyone found defaulting in paying power bills and agricultural loans will be instantly disqualified.
The petitioners said the provision disqualifying those who don’t repay farm loans was to keep out a large number of farmers. “How can there be a nexus? The default could arise for many reasons that in no way can damage a candidate’s ability to discharge his/her duties.”
Similarly, questioning the disqualification on account of non-payment of power bills, they said, “59% of rural households and 80% of SC households earn Rs 5,000 per month. Disqualifying those not paying the bills amounts to penalising the rural population.”
Women from Fatehabad, Hissar and Jhajhar had moved the SC challenging Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015. They said 83.06% of rural women above 20 years would become ineligible to contest Panchayat polls under the new law.