Jaipur: Rajasthan High Court on Thursday refused to immediately interfere with a State government ordinance fixing educational qualifications for candidates in local body elections, saying the poll process is already on and the petitioners will have to wait for the final order.
Polling for the first phase of the three-stage local body election will be held on Friday in Rajasthan. The petitioners had challenged the ordinance, promulgated just days before the panchayat election dates were announced, and sought a stay so that they could participate in the process.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Sunil Ambawani and Justice Prakash Gupta said that once the election process has commenced, it would not be fit for the court to interfere in the process which is otherwise a constitutional mandate.
The court observed that “neither the petitioners nor the respondent State has given any quantified figure to ascertain as to how many aspiring persons have been deprived due to the effect of impugned educational qualification clause added by way of ordinance.”
As such final adjudication can be done only after final hearing, it said.
The matter has been posted for March 2.
The order came on a bunch of petitions challenging the ordinance promulgated on December 20, 2014, prescribing minimum educational qualifications to contest the local body elections, which had drawn flak from activists among others.
The petitioners had claimed that it would take away the rights of the people, particularly of women as in many segments a majority of them have no education.
The Supreme Court had on January 5 refused to entertain petitions challenging the ordinance, saying the High Court was the forum for addressing these issues.
It had declined to extend by two days the deadline of filing the nominations till the matter is taken up in the High Court.
For Sarpanchs, the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 fixed class VIII as the minimum qualification and in scheduled areas it is Class V.
For contesting Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti polls, the education qualification is Class X pass.
The petitions claimed that 80 per cent of the Rajasthan rural electorate will not be able to contest the polls as they do not meet the norms and about 95 per cent women electorate will be similarly disqualified.
They also claimed that of the current block members, the ordinance will render ineligible around 3,800 of the 5,000 and similarly disqualify 550 of the 1,000 Zila Parishad members.
The polling will be held in three phases on January 16, January 22 and January 30. Counting of votes will be held on February 5.