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The SC’s Decided To Uphold Criteria In Panchayat Elections Of Haryana, Is This A Bad Move?

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By YKA Staff:

The Supreme Court ruled last week that the law enacted by the Haryana government debarring persons without requisite education, among other criteria, from contesting Panchayat elections was valid.

The Haryana Panchayati Raj Amendment Act 2015 was passed by the state’s Assembly in September this year. It made it compulsory for candidates belonging to the general category to be at least matriculates although it allowed some relaxation in the criteria for women and Dalit candidates. The Act also made it mandatory for the candidates to have a toilet at home and to not be under debt.

REUTERS/Vijay Mathur
REUTERS/Vijay Mathur

The Hindu reported that the new law “leaves 68 per cent of the Scheduled Caste women and 41 per cent of the Scheduled Caste men in Haryana ineligible to contest panchayat elections.”

Another Indian Express report stated that such criteria for contesting local elections existed in other states too. For example, in Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, having a toilet at home is a must for any candidate contesting local polls. In Rajasthan, being matriculate is a must for contesting Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti polls.

The Tribune reported that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had expressed dissatisfaction with the Apex Court’s verdict and was planning to file a review petition.

Others have also expressed disapproval of the Supreme Court judgment. People’s Union for Democratic Rights, in a strong-worded statement, said that the decision amounted to “contempt of the people.” The PUDR statement pointed out that the Haryana government’s Act had made use of a “loophole” in the Representation of the People Act, which does not cover Panchayat elections and prescribes no rules for it.

The PUDR statement also noted that the SC judgment was making a distinction between statutory rights and fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and placing the right to contest in the former category.

However, SC advocate Rajeev Dhawan said in a piece on the issue that the judgment was not right in making this distinction. “The derailment was that having established electoral rights as constitutional rights, it treated them as statutory rights without giving weight to their constitutional status,” the legal luminary wrote in his piece which termed the judgment “horrible.” K. Chandru, a retired judge at the Madras High Court pulled no punches, writing in The Hindu, and stated that the judgment was “anti-poor, anti-Dalit and pro-rich and if enforced will create oligarchies.” Chandru also noted that even for elections to legislative councils in states in which only graduates can vote, the candidate does not need to possess any educational qualifications.

Former Panchayati Raj minister Mani Shankar Aiyar also criticised the judgment and called upon the Parliament to set it right. Terming it the “most retrograde step taken in the history of panchayati raj”, Aiyar reminded the Court that if candidates were not educated enough, according to the new criteria, it was a failure of the state which was supposed to provide education to everyone under the Directive Principles included in the Constitution.

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  1. SUBHASH

    EDUCATION IN PANCHYAT POLL MUST BE SAME NOT LIKE 5CLASS/8 CLASS, ,10CLASS THIS IS WRONG ,EQUAL EDUCATION IS OK 5 CLASS OK FOR EVERY PERSON IN PANCHYAT POLL NO NEED 10 CLASS FOR GEN AND BC CANDIDATE

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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