This Article is From Jan 05, 2015

Supreme Court Refuses to Interfere With Rajasthan Panchayat Poll Ordinance

File photo of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said it will not interfere with the election schedule for local bodies in Rajasthan, asking petitioners who had challenged an ordinance or executive order by the state government, to move the high court instead.

The controversial ordinance, issued on December 19 last year, makes it mandatory for candidates contesting  elections to local bodies like zila parishad and panchayat samitis to have at least passed Class 10 and for those contesting for sarpanch seats, to have passed Class 8.

The Supreme Court did not make observations or comment today on the merit of the ordinance, but it refused to extend the deadline for filing nominations for the local body elections, the last date for which is tomorrow. However, the top court said the High Court can look into this issue as well.

11 opposition parties, including the Congress and NGOs had filed petitions protesting against the ordinance and it being issued so close to the last date for nominations.

They say the new educational criteria will exclude 80 per cent of the rural population in the state from contesting these elections.  They also say that about 1000 current zila parishad members will be disqualified.

"The Rajasthan government held no debate or discussion on this. It has quelled the voice of the people," said Sachin Pilot, who heads the Congress in Rajasthan.