Haryana scraps panchayat poll process over edu norms

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member

The Haryana Government today told the Supreme Court that it was scrapping the ongoing panchayat elections as it was not ready to do away with the education norms for candidates, as directed by the the apex court in an interim order on September 17.
A fresh schedule for the elections would be announced after the SC ruling on the validity of the recently enacted Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed a Bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and AM Sapre.
The state Election Commission (EC) also told the Bench that it was not in a position to go ahead with the elections scheduled to be held in three phases from October 4 as its notification had been rendered “meaningless” following SC’s interim order staying the implementation of the education norms for the candidates.
The EC had clearly stated in the notification that only the candidates meeting the educational and other qualifications stipulated in the amended Act would be eligible to contest the elections. In view of this, any change in the norms could be made only by giving up the ongoing process and issuing a fresh notification, Additional Solicitor General PS Patwalia pleaded with the Bench. At this, the Bench passed an order slating the case for final hearing on October 7 and asked the state government and the EC to file their response to the petition by three aspiring candidates affected by the new Act. It also allowed the People’s Union for Civil Liberties to assist the court in the case.
Before the court passed the order, Rohatgi made another attempt today to persuade the Bench to vacate the interim order thereby allowing the holding of panchayat elections under the amended Act.
Citing constitutional provisions, the AG pleaded the state government had the power to stipulate qualifications for the candidates. There was a clear distinction between the voters’ right to exercise their franchise and contest elections, he contended. Unconvinced, the Bench asked the AG to “throw some light on the disqualification of contestants”.
At this, the AG said if the Bench was not inclined to vacate the interim order, the state would prefer to argue the matter in detail. “Elections can’t go on” under the present situation, he pleaded.