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Bill push for 50% women reservation

Ranchi, Feb. 24: The state government is set to table a bill to provide 50 per cent reservation to women in panchayat bodies in the forthcoming budget session of the Assembly, thus taking a step towards early conduct of rural polls.

The government has already decided to use EVMs during panchayat elections in a cabinet decision last week. The budget session may also witness tabling of another bill for de-reserving the posts of deputies in all three strata of panchayat bodies. The tiers are gram panchayat (panchayat level), panchayat samiti (block level) and zilla parishad (district level).

State Panchayati Raj director Ganesh Prasad said the state was earlier in favour of amending the Jharkhand State Panchayati Raj Act, 2001, through an ordinance to make way for women reservation. But later, the powers that be decided to bring the change through a bill with an aim to reach a consensus by public representatives. The existing act of 2001 prescribes 33 per cent reservation.

“We are in the process of preparing the bill so that it can be introduced during the budget session. Women reservation will be followed on a rotational basis,” said Prasad. Rotational basis means that the reserved seats may get changed the next time rural polls are held and vice-versa. Further, the 50 per cent reservation will be given on a horizontal basis in all three tiers of panchayat bodies. Horizontal basis means reservation for women in seats set aside for ST, SC and Other Backward Classes (OBC) in all scheduled and non-scheduled areas. “However, the 50 per cent reservation clause for women will not be applicable in case of unreserved (open category seats),” Prasad added.

The department will also bring another bill for de-reserving the posts of deputies of panchayat chiefs in all the three tiers. The deputies are to be selected indirectly through simple majority among ward members (in gram panchayats) and members (panchayat samitis and zilla parishads).

The second decision is meant to calm the agitating sadan (non-tribal) population across the state. The sadans are against the provisions of the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act.

The contentious issue whether the rural polls will be held on political party basis is still undecided and a final decision will be taken before the dates of polls are finalised after completion of all formalities.

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