The court’s verdict, which will have wider impact on the elections, held the amendment and the criteria were “neither irrational nor illegal.”

Observing that education is must for both men and women in a healthy society, the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Haryana government’s amendment to the Panchayati Raj Act mandating educational qualifications and other eligibility criteria for candidate aspire to contest the rural local body elections.The court’s verdict, which will have wider impact on the elections, held the amendment and the criteria were “neither irrational nor illegal.”The court also upheld the government’s amendment to the law setting other criteria that a person can’t contest election for Panchayats if charges have been framed against him for the criminal offence attracting imprisonment of not less than ten years, who fail to pay arrears of a cooperative society or a cooperative bank or that of electricity bill and don’t have a functional toilet at their residence.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”No one can dispute that education is must for both men and women as both together make a healthy and educated society. It is an essential tool for a bright future and plays an important role in the development and progress of the country,” a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said.Upholding the amended Panchayati Raj Act in Haryana, the court said that the “object sought to be achieved cannot be said to be irrational or illegal or unconnected with the scheme and purpose of empowering the rural people through local self-government.”The bench said it is only education which gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and therefore, prescription of an educational qualification is not irrelevant for better administration of the panchayats.Holding that it was the legislative wisdom to decide as to what should be the minimum qualifications, Justice Sapre in a concurring but separate judgment said, “No one can dispute that education is must for both men and women as both together make a healthy and educated society. It is an essential tool for a bright future and plays an important role in the development and progress of the country.”The court dismissed the plea challenging the validity of the amendment to Panchayati Raj law that has set some criterial for candidates.Initially an ordinance prescribing the eligibility criteria was issued on August 14, 2015. Haryana assembly passed the amendments on September 7, 2015 and very next day the State Election Commission announced the elections.Addressing the challenge to the validity of the provision of educational qualification as it would result in a disqualification of a large number of people (more than 50%) from contesting Panchayat election, the court said, “every person who is entitled to vote is not automatically entitled to contest for every office under the Constitution.” Criminal charges The court also upheld the government’s amendment to the law setting other criteria that a person can’t contest election for Panchayats if charges have been framed against him for the criminal offence attracting imprisonment of not less than ten years, who fail to pay arrears of a cooperative society or a cooperative bank or that of electricity bill and don’t have a functional toilet at their residence.

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Supreme Court upholds law fixing education qualification for Haryana panchayat poll