New Delhi, Sept. 22: The Haryana government today decided to defend its controversial notification that had prescribed minimum educational qualifications for candidates seeking to contest panchayat elections.
The decision means the polls, scheduled to have been held on October 4, 11 and 18, now stand postponed indefinitely.
The September 8 notification, issued under the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, required general candidates to have cleared matriculation and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe contestants to have passed Class VIII.
But contrary to yesterday's assurance that he would seek instructions for withdrawing the notification, attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the state, told Justices J. Chelameshwar and A.M. Sapre the government intended to defend its decision.
"We feel it may not be desirable to have one half of the House with qualified candidates and the other half with non-qualified candidates, so we will defer the elections and issue later a fresh schedule. We can go for a final hearing," Rohatgi said.
The bench, which yesterday gave the state 24 hours to withdraw its notification, adjourned the matter till October 7.
Constitutional provisions require people planning to contest elections for a seat in legislative bodies to be of a minimum age. But neither the Constitution nor the Representation of People Act prescribes any minimum educational qualification for prospective candidates.
Yesterday, the court had taunted the BJP-ruled Haryana government for prescribing the minimum qualifications, saying why Parliament and state legislatures could not apply the same yardstick to their own members.