The Haryana Legislative Assembly, which is soon going to legislate on the amendment of Section 175 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act,1994, for fixing matriculation as the minimum qualification for contesting elections of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), itself has five MLAs below matric, including one “illiterate”.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s MLA from Pataudi, Bimla Chaudhary, has declared her educational qualification in his election affidavit as “illiterate”.
INLD MLA from Narwana, Prithi Singh and Independent MLA from Punahana, Rahish Khan are Class 8 pass. Congress MLA from Baroda, Sri Krishan has passed Class 9, while INLD MLA from Sirsa, Makhan Lal Singla has not passed Class 8.
There are eight MLAs who have passed only their matriculation examination.
The remaining members of the Haryana Assembly have attended college and university.
The proposal to fix minimum qualification as matric for contesting elections to the gram panchayats, panchayat samitis and zila parishads was approved by the council of ministers in the meeting held on August 11.
Since the Legislative Assembly was not in session, it was proposed to promulgate an ordinance that was finally approved by the Governor on August 14. Now the issue is going to come up in the monsoon session of the Assembly starting September 2.
The ordinance notification was challenged by Ved Wanti, a resident of village Muklan in Hisar district, in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The court on August 21 stayed the criteria by issuing notice to the Haryana government to file its reply by August 28.
The state government, in its reply to Ved Wanti’s petition, has said: “The minimum educational qualification is a matter of policy decision which is not open to
It has further submitted that one of the objects sought to be achieved by the legislation is to popularise the national policy on education and the fundamental right to education.
In the reply submitted by Chander Shekhar, director-and-special secretary, development and panchayats department, Haryana, it has been mentioned that the amendment to Section 175 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act is being incorporated to take care of the “ills facing the system of governance in PRIs”.
Shekhar adds there is a “practice of husband and other relatives of the elected representatives being active participants in the governance of PRIs by virtually sidelining the elected representatives owing to the latter’s illiteracy”.
He further mentions “illiteracy is a common excuse by the elected representatives for poor functioning of the gram panchayats, panchayat samitis and zila parishads”.
He adds that most of the elected members of the PRIs are dependent on the government functionaries or their relatives or friends, who many times take advantage of them.
However, addressing petitioner Ved Wanti’s submissions that since there is no minimum qualification for MPs and MLAs, the government cannot fix minimum qualification for Panchayati Raj Institution elections, the government has replied that the state legislature does not have powers to legislate on qualification of MPs and MLAs. It has been submitted that only Parliament could lay down law for disqualification for members of either house of Parliament or of Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of the state.
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