New Delhi

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere in a recent Rajasthan government ordinance that made class V pass a minimum requirement to contest in the upcoming panchayat polls, but allowed petitioners to challenge it before the high court on an urgent basis.

The Vasundhara Raje-led Rajasthan government in an ordinance issued on December 20, 2014, had said that every person wishing to contest for a zila member's post has to be a class tenth pass, while those contesting to be a panchayat member should be class V pass. It also said a sarpanch had to be a Class VIII pass and sarpanch of a scheduled area should have passed class V. 

The petitioners including social activist Aruna Roy, Jagdeep Chhokar, founder of the Association of Democratic Reforms, and social scientist George Matthew, have argued that this was an unreasonable restriction on the people's right to participate in a democracy. 

They alleged that the ordinance was motivated as it was promulgated days before the nominations were to close for the polls, that too when the court was on vacation. They also said it's anti-democratic as it would prevent a huge swathe of rural population, particularly women, from contesting elections. 

A Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice of India J L Dattu and Justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal, however, refused to interfere in the matter in any way and declined to extend the nomination dates or tamper with the calendar of events of the elections. 

This is in keeping with the top court's reluctance to stand in the way of any ordinance framed by the executive. The court does not normally interfere in such matters, unless the executive keeps on extending the ordinance beyond its shelf life of seven-and-a-half months.


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