Sarpanch loses post for inability to write in Odia

However, according to the Panchayat Act, candidates must be able to read and write in Odia.
Kanakalata Pal
Kanakalata PalPhoto | Express

BERHAMPUR: Kanakalata Pal, the 56-year-old sarpanch of Chandiput panchayat in Mohana block of Gajapati district, lost her post after two years of being elected, for her inability to write in Odia.

The incident came to light after a legal challenge by her rival candidate.

Kanakalata Pal was elected Sarpanch in the 2022 Panchayat election, defeating Lalita Badaraita. However, according to the Panchayat Act, candidates must be able to read and write in Odia.

Lalita filed a complaint with the election officer in Mohana, and when no action was taken, she escalated the matter to the Mohana First Class Magistrate.

During the hearing, magistrate Subhjit Behera asked Kanakalata to demonstrate her ability to read and write in Odia. While she could read the language, she was unable to write it. Consequently, the magistrate disqualified her election and directed the Gajapati district election officer and Mohana block development officer (BDO) to conduct a re-election for the sarpanch post.

Kanakalata Pal said she will challenge the verdict in a higher court.

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