Haryana makes toilets compulsory for Panchayat candidates

The State Assembly on Monday passed a Bill, fixing the minimum educational qualification for elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions besides laying down other conditions including making it mandatory for the candidates to have functional toilets.

The Assembly on the concluding day of its monsoon session passed the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2015 after debating it for over an hour, amid a walkout by the Congress while main opposition INLD also raised concern on some points concerning the amendment.

The House was informed that Haryana has become the second state after Rajasthan to fix educational and other qualifications for the candidates contesting PRI elections.

The Bill fixes, matriculation as essential qualification for general candidates contesting the Panchayat elections while the qualification for the women (general) and Scheduled caste candidate will be middle standard (VIII).

However, in case of a woman candidate belonging to SC category contesting election for the post of Panch, the minimum qualification shall be V pass.

Earlier, the BJP government in the state had promulgated an ordinance fixing educational qualification and other criteria for elections to PRIs, which was recently withdrawn and the Bill now brought in its place.

Moving the Bill, Agriculture Minister O P Dhankar termed the legislation as “historic”, saying it was as important as the Cow Protection Act enacted by the Assembly in its session earlier this year.

The amendment proposed by Congress MLA Karan Singh Dalal with respect to some clauses pertaining to the Bill introduced today were defeated on the floor of the House, amid walkout by the Congress even before the fate of the legislator’s amendment was known and the Bill put to vote.

“See the conduct of honourable Congress friends. Their CLP leader (Kiran Choudhary) did not come to the House. Their (Congress’) attitude towards their own MLA is not in good taste,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma told the House even as other ruling BJP MLAs and Ministers cracked jokes on Congress walking out “leaving Dalal in a spot”.

Dalal also left the House later before his amendment was defeated.

As per an amendment in Clause (v) of Section 175 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, the minimum academic qualification for all levels of elected representatives of PRIs including Panches, Sarpanches, Block Samiti, Zila Parishad members has been fixed now.

Earlier, Dalal said in the House that minimum qualification and other criteria barring the one that makes it mandatory to have functional toilets, as laid down in the present Bill, was not practical and if the government was keen on having it, then the same set of conditions should be made mandatory for MLAs and MPs fighting elections.