The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday stayed the Haryana government’s notification issued on August 14 laying down minimum qualification criteria for the candidates to contest for the post of sarpanch, panch, member of block samiti and zila parishad.
The decision came from the division bench comprising Justices S K Mittal and Mahavir Singh Chauhan while issuing notice of motion to the Haryana government on a petition filed by Ved Wanti, a resident of village Muklan in Hisar district. The state government has been directed to file its response to the petition by August 28.
The division bench ordered, “In the meanwhile, operation of Clause (v) of Section 175 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, inserted vide the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, is stayed till the next date of hearing.”
Clause (v) of Section 175 disqualifies a candidate who, “has not passed matriculation examination or its equivalent examination from any recognised institution/board : provided that in case of a woman candidate or candidate belonging to Scheduled Caste, the minimum qualification shall be middle pass.”
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Manjeet Singh argued that the Haryana government’s decision was unconstitutional whereby minimum educational qualification of ‘middle pass’ has been prescribed for women candidates for contesting election for the posts of sarpanch and Panch of a Gram Panchayat and members of a Panchayat Samiti or Zila Parishad. The court was informed that the petitioner is aspiring to contest election for the post of Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat but she has been disqualified by virtue of the amendment in the Haryana Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, by way of the ordinance issued on August 14.
The counsel argued that neither under Part IX of the Constitution, which deals with the panchayats and its elections, nor under the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, there is any provision which prescribes the minimum educational qualification for candidate of Sarpanch, Panch, member of Block Samiti or Zila Parishad.
The court was also informed that before promulgating the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, for inserting Clause (v) in Section 175 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, no survey was conducted to ascertain as to what percentage of the population in Haryana is Matriculate or Middle pass.
The counsel further added that in absence of any such material, majority of the persons of the state, who are not Matriculate or Middle pass, have been deprived of their right to contest the elections of Sarpanch, Panch, member of Block Samiti and Zila Parishad, which violates their right of equal opportunity under Article 14 of the Constitution of India to contest the elections and denies political justice to them.