SC stays Haryana law on mandatory education for poll candidates

The Supreme Court today stayed a law in Haryana that set mandatory educational qualifications for candidates contesting Panchayat elections in the state.

Acting on a petition filed by the All India Democratic Women's Association which said the law violated a candidate's right to contest elections, the court also issued a notice to the Haryana government seeking its response.

According to the law passed on 7 September by the state assembly, while general candidates must have passed class 10 examinations, women and Dalit candidates should have cleared class 8 to contest the Panchayat polls.

Candidates should also not have a criminal conviction, no pending electricity bills or loan payments and a working toilet, the law had said.

The bill also made it mandatory for contesting candidates to ensure that they have a functional toilet at home.

But the petition against the law said that it made most of the candidates in the state ineligible and is against the constitution.

Till the government responds to the top court's order, it cannot hold polls under the current law. It has the choice of postponing the polls or reversing the law, the bench ruled.

''We can't grant you something, which means allowing petition (but) can we stay when it (election process) is underway prima facie, it appears you have a case. But we are restraining ourselves,'' the division bench of Justices S K Mittal and M S Chauhan said while replying to queries from a battery of lawyers who questioned the government move.

The court's ruling was almost unanimously welcomed by opposition parties and social organisations on the social media.

The law had been passed in state assembly after a similar ordinance issued by the BJP government in state was stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court following a petition.

Panchayat elections in Haryana are scheduled to be held in three phases on October 4, 11 and 18 this year.  More than 1.10 crore voters are eligible to vote in the elections.

More than 72,000 posts of panchayat members, panchayat samitis and zila parishads will be up for vote, nominations for which opened on 15 September.

The State Election Commission has said that it will set up more than 21,000 polling booths for the election. But the petition against the law said that it made most of the candidates in the state ineligible and is against the Constitution.

The elections will be carried out in phases on 4, 11, 1nd 18 October.  More than 1.10 crore voters are eligible to vote in the elections.

 More than 72,000 posts of panchayat members, panchayat samitis and zila parishads go to the polls, nominations for which opened on 15 September.

 The State Election Commission has said that it will set up more than 21,000 polling booths for the election.