NEW DELHI: Only education gives people the power to discriminate between right and wrong and fixing educational qualification for panchayat poll aspirants in Haryana to ensure better administration was not irrelevant, the Supreme Court today said.
A bench of justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre held this while upholding the validity of recent amendments in Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015, which fixes various criteria, including minimum educational qualification for candidates contesting the panchayat polls.
The bench also upheld one of the criterias fixed by the Act which said aspirants must have toilets at their residence to contest the panchayat polls noting that "one of the primary duties of any civic body is to maintain sanitation within its jurisdiction".
"Those who aspire to get elected to those civic bodies and administer them must set an example for others," the bench said.
The judgement upheld the validity of the Act which fixes matriculation as essential qualification for general candidates contesting panchayat polls, while the qualification for women (general) and Scheduled Caste candidates has beenfixed at Class VIII.
However, in case of a woman candidate belonging to the Scheduled Caste category, contesting election for the post of panch (panchayat head), the minimum qualification would be Class V.
Writing the verdict for the bench, Justice Chelameswar said, "It is only education which gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad. Therefore, prescription of an educational qualification is not irrelevant for better administration of the panchayats."
Concurring with the observations, Justice Sapre added fewlines and 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 development and progress of the country," Justice Sapre said, adding, "In my opinion, introduction of such provision prescribing certain minimum educational qualification criteria as one of the qualifications for a candidate to contest the election has a reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved."