To contest panchayat elections in Haryana, a general category candidate has to pass at least Class X and a Scheduled Caste candidate at least Class VIII. All candidates should have functional toilets at their residences, face no criminal charges framed in the court and should not be defaulters of any cooperative bank. These were among the amendments passed by the Haryana Cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar Tuesday.
After the Cabinet meeting, Khattar told reporters the minimum educational qualification was needed to improve the quality of leadership. “It was done to improve the quality of leadership and governance in panchayati raj institutions. This amendment will enable elected representatives to be more accountable, as they would no longer be able to cite illiteracy as an excuse,” the chief minister said.
“Another reason for prescribing minimum educational qualification is that even after the introduction of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment, illiteracy is a common excuse by the elected representatives for poor functioning of the gram panchayats, panchayat samitis and zila parishads. Most of the elected members of panchayati raj institutions are dependent on government functionaries or their relatives or friends, who often take advantage of them,” Khattar said.
The second amendment provides that persons against whom charges have been framed by the competent court for grave criminal offences punishable by not less than 10 years of imprisonment will not be allowed to contest the elections till they are acquitted by the court.
Currently, there is a provision that disqualifies those convicted by courts from contesting elections, but there are many instances where persons have been let off because of shortcomings in the investigation process and for non-fulfillment of technical qualifications such as absence of sanction of prosecution or lack of strong prosecution by the public prosecutor.
As per the third amendment, defaulters of cooperative loans will be debarred from contesting the elections to panchayati raj institutions.
“Another amendment provides that only those persons who have cleared their outstanding dues of rural domestic electricity connections will be able to contest elections to panchayati raj institutions. Also, any candidate who wants to contest elections for any part of a panchayati raj institution will have to file a self-certified statement that there is a functional toilet in his/her residence,” Khattar said.
Govt unveils industrial policy
With special focus on manufacturing and services enterprises, especially balanced regional growth of MSMEs, the Haryana government Tuesday announced its new industrial policy. The government said the “Enterprises Promotion Policy 2015” envisages ease of doing business and enhancing competitiveness of the industry. “It aims at attracting investment of over Rs 1 lakh crore, will create four lakh jobs and accelerate economic growth to more than eight per cent,” Khattar said.