Chandigarh: Haryana government on Tuesday has decided to fix the minimum educational qualification requirement for candidates contesting in elections for the urban local bodies (ULB) in the state.
The move comes after it had set the minimum educational qualification requirement for contesting the panchayat elections in the state.
The BJP government has decided to amend the section 13-A of the Haryana Municipal Act, 1973 and Section-8 of the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act, 1994, laying down some qualifications for contesting the urban local bodies elections.
A decision to this effect was taken in a meeting of the state cabinet which met in Chandigarh on Tuesday under the chairmanship of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, an official release said.
As per the amendment, the qualification requirement has been prescribed as class 10th pass (matriculation) for all levels of the elected representatives of the urban local bodies.
“As a step towards affirmative action for ensuring that women and scheduled caste (SC) voters are not placed in an extremely disadvantageous position, a minimum educational qualification for women and scheduled caste candidates have been fixed as middle class (eighth) and for SC women candidates as 5th class. Besides, all the candidates contesting the elections to urban local bodies have to file a declaration that they have the provision of a functional toilet at the residence," the release said, providing details of the cabinet decision.
Also, as per the amendment, persons against whom charges have been framed by the competent court for grave criminal offences punishable by not less than 10 years of imprisonment, will be debarred from contesting the elections till they are acquitted by the courts, it said.
At present, the law dictates that anyone who has been convicted by the courts will be prevented from contesting the elections of urban local bodies, but there have been instances where persons against whom charges have been framed, but trial is not completed, were able to contest elections. The government has taken the step to ensure that such elements do not contest the elections till they are acquitted by the court, the release added.
In order to promote the culture of repayments of co-operative loans and ensure regular payment of electricity bills, an amendment has been made to debar such defaulters from contesting the elections to urban local bodies.
To bring qualitative improvement in the working of the urban local bodies, there is a need to include minimum qualification for candidates contesting the elections to the ULBs, the release said.
“Another reason for prescribing minimum educational qualification is that even after the introduction of the 74th constitutional amendment; illiteracy is a common excuse by the elected representatives for poor functioning of the ULBs. Most of the elected members of the bodies are dependent on the government functionaries or their relatives or friends, who take advantage of their poor capabilities and capacities," it said.
“Therefore, qualification has been prescribed as class ten pass for all levels of the elected representatives of the urban local bodies. This amendment will enable elected representatives of ULBs to be more accountable, as they will no longer be able to take an excuse of illiteracy," it added.
Provision of appropriate sanitation arrangements in the residential areas of urban population is the primary requirement and under the current scenario, the provision of functional toilets in each and every house is a must, it said.
“To boost and encourage the practice of having a functional toilet in the residences of the elected representatives, they must set an example by having functional toilets in their houses. Hence, non provision of a functional toilet at the residence will disqualify the candidate. As such, those who aspire to get elected to the civic bodies and administer them must set an example for others by having hygiene and healthy sanitation at their residences including functional toilets. Therefore, qualification has been prescribed that a self declaration is required to this effect that the candidate has a functional toilet in his or her home," it further said.
Haryana has nine municipal corporations—Gurgaon, Faridabad, Karnal, Panipat, Rohtak, Hisar, Panchkula, Ambala and Yamunanagar. Besides, there are 19 municipal councils and 50 municipal committees. The Supreme Court had on 10 December upheld the validity of Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act 2015, which fixes matriculation as minimum qualification for general candidates running for the Panchayat elections, while the qualification for women (general) and scheduled caste candidates has been fixed as class 8.
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 5. The multi-phase Panchayat polls in Haryana are scheduled to be held in January 2016.