The Supreme Court of India has upheld the Haryana Panchayati Raj (amendment) Act 2015 that bans anyone with less than 8th standard education from standing for Panchayati Raj elections.
They can, however, stand for Parliament and State Assembly elections.
For general category candidates, the minimum qualification is 10th standard pass.
The law has been passed under the rationale that someone who has not passed even an 8th standard exam cannot understand the problems of his or her ward and be effective in finding solutions to the problems of the ward.
The Act also bans people who have not paid their power bills or who do not have working toilets in their homes.
The Supreme Court, hearing a public interest petition against the law, had earlier noted that with this new law, 50% of Haryana’s population will not be able to stand for Panchayat elections.
“We have serious doubts over educational qualification being made an eligibility criteria for contesting election. We are really worried about the fixing of educational qualification, ” the bench had said in September.
The move is likely to hit female, OBC and Dalit politicians especially hard as many of them come from socially and economically backward households where education is not considered a priority.
As expected, the ruling has created strong protests among a section of the people who believe that even someone without formal education can be a good representative of the people.
Look hw funny the Constitution sounds, thanks to SC, judge appointing Judges is basic structure, citizen's right to contest election is not
— Krupakar Manukonda (@krupakar_m) December 10, 2015
Terrible news for female participation in local elections in India. Same probably true for lower-caste communities. https://t.co/yMwM32g82d
— Ammu Kannampilly (@akannampilly) December 10, 2015
Unbelievable. Terrible judgment. Against the very concept of democracy. https://t.co/gIFNqAg016
— Dushyant Arora (@atti_cus) December 10, 2015