A single bench of the Gujarat High Court is likely to pronounce Friday the order on a set of petitions challenging the mandatory provision of having toilets for contesting local body elections.
The petitioners, including four women, have claimed their nominations for contesting the gram panchyat election in Dahod were rejected since they did not have functional toilets in their houses. This was perhaps the first case in Gujarat when people were barred from contesting elections for not having toilets in their houses.
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The petitioners, Chuniben C Nayak, Sukiben S Nayak, Sanabhai H Nayak, Budhiliben V Navika and Manoj Z Nayak, wanted to contest the elections for gram panchayat members. But their nominations were rejected after the election commission found out that they did not have functional toilets in their homes. They moved a petition in the High Court on May 8, challenging the provision through their lawyer MA Kharadi.
The Gujarat government has opposed the petition, saying the legislation for mandatory toilets was in public interest and “making elected representatives responsible to the people — not just by preaching, but as role models for cleanliness.”
Last year, the state government had amended the 1993 Gujarat Panchayat Act wherein it made toilets compulsory for contesting the local body elections. It also asked elected members to built toilet in their homes within six months from the implementation of the provision.
According to the case details, on May 4 — the last day of scrutiny of objections, a few villagers complained that some candidates did not have toilets and their nomination should be rejected.
The returning officer ordered an inquiry, which faced protests from the candidates and their supporters. The officers had to inspect the houses of the candidates in police protection.
“It was found that there were toilets which were not complete. Basically, they were not functional,” the election commission told the court.
Justice CL Soni on Thursday dictated some parts of the judgment which is likely to be completed on Friday.