Regulations
SC upholds amendment to Haryana Panchayati Raj Act
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an amendment to the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act providing for educational qualifications and other eligibility criteria for those aspiring to contest rural local body elections, saying that they were neither irrational nor illegal.
 
A bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre in their judgment said the "object sought to be achieved cannot be said to be irrational or illegal or unconnected with the scheme and purpose" of empowering the rural people through local self-government.
 
Speaking for the bench, Justice Chelameswar said: "It is only education which gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad. Therefore, prescription of an educational qualification is not irrelevant for better administration of the panchayats."
 
The classification, the court said, "in our view, cannot be said either based on no intelligible difference, unreasonable or without a reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved".
 
Holding it was the legislative wisdom to decide as to what should be the minimum qualifications, Justice Sapre, in a concurring but separate judgment, said: "No one can dispute that education is must for both men and women as both together make a healthy and educated society. It is an essential tool for a bright future and plays an important role in the development and progress of the country."
 
The court's views came while rejecting the challenge to the validity of the amendment which said that besides educational qualification, those disqualified from contesting elections would be those against whom charges have been framed for criminal offences entailing at least 10 years jail; those failing to pay arrears of a cooperative society or a cooperative bank or electricity bill; or don't have a functional toilet at their residence.
 
Initially an ordinance prescribing the eligibility criteria was issued on August 14, and the enacted by the Haryana assembly on September 7
 
Addressing the challenge to the validity of the educational qualification provision as it would result in a disqualification of more than 50 percent of the people, the court said: "Every person who is entitled to vote is not automatically entitled to contest for every office under the constitution."
 
The "constitution itself imposes limitations on the right to contest depending upon the office" and also authorises imposing "further disqualifications/qualification with respect to the right to contest".
 
"If it is constitutionally permissible to debar certain classes of people from seeking to occupy the constitutional offices, numerical dimension of such classes, in our opinion should make no difference for determining whether prescription of such disqualification is constitutionally permissible," the court said.
 
Any criteria could be questioned only if it is of a nature that could result in a situation where holding of elections to these various bodies becomes completely impossible, it said.
 
On debarring defaulters, the court said: "If the constitution makers considered that people who are insolvent are not eligible to seek various elected public offices, we do not understand what could be the constitutional infirmity if the legislature declares people who are indebted to cooperative bodies or in arrears of electricity bills to be ineligible to become elected representatives of the people in panchayats."
 
Upholding the criteria of mandatory functional toilets, it said: "If the legislature stipulates that those who are not following basic norms of hygiene are ineligible to become administrators of the civic body and disqualifies them as a class from seeking election to the civic body, such a policy, in our view, can neither be said to create a class based on unintelligible criteria nor can such classification be said to be unconnected with the object sought to be achieved."
 
Describing defecation in open as an unhealthy practice, the judgment said: "It is a notorious fact that the Indian population for a long time had this unhealthy practice of defecating in public - (and) this unhealthy practice is not exclusive to poorer sections of rural India."
 
Justice Sapre, in his concurring judgment, said: "This provision (for toilet) in my view is enacted essentially in the larger public interest and is indeed the need of the hour to ensure its application all over the country and not confining it to a particular state. 
 
"Moreover, the state having provided adequate financial assistance to those who do not have toilet facility for construction of toilet, there arise no ground to challenge this provision as being unreasonable in any manner."
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Rs.21,054 crore collected as petrol, diesel cess in 2014-15
The government has collected Rs.21,054 crore through cess levied on petrol and diesel in the last fiscal ended March, parliament was told on Thursday.
 
The collection was higher by 22 percent over the Rs 17,330.87 crore collected in 2013-14, Minister of State for Road Transport P.Radhakrishnan told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
 
The collection in 2012-13 was at Rs.16,401.91 crore. 
 
The cess on petrol and high speed diesel is utilised for development and maintenance of national highways and development of rural roads, the minister said, adding it is also used in the development and maintenance of other state roads of inter-state and economic importance and for the improvement of safety at rail-road crossings, among others.
 
"Besides, the ministry also approves/sanctions works for development of state roads under CRF including roads of Economic Importance (EI) and Inter-State Connectivity (ISC)," he said.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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26/11 Mumbai attacks: Headley to turn approver, pardoned
A court here accepted on Thursday the request of Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Coleman Headley, currently imprisoned in the US, to turn approver and depose in the 26/11 case in return for a pardon.
 
Headley, who appeared before a court through a video-conferencing from an unidentified location in the US, during the hearing expressed his willingness to turn approver and depose in the case in return for a pardon to Sessions Judge G.A. Sanap.
 
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who conducted the 26/11 trial earlier, sought time to consult the investigating officers for which the court was adjourned for half an hour. After discussions, he informed Judge Sanap that the prosecution was agreeable to Headley's offer, subject to certain conditions.
 
Accordingly, Judge Sanap pardoned Headley and made him an approver late on Thursday.
 
Headley alias Daood Sayeed Gilani will depose as a prosecution witness before the court on February 8, 2016.
 
Judge Sanap also asked him to disclose all information pertaining to the 26/11 case which he had earlier shared with the US courts.
 
This is expected to shed light on the 26/11 conspiracy and the role of various terror groups, and other crucial details of the terror strike.
 
Headley confirmed that he had received the charge sheet filed against him in the Mumbai court, charging him with the same conduct for which he was also charged in the US.
 
"I had pleaded guilty to the charges in the US and I admitted I was a participant in these charges," he told the Mumbai court.
 
He added he had accepted the responsibility for his role in the offences in the US and also to make himself as witness in the Mumbai court.
 
"I am here ready to answer questions - if I receive a pardon from this court," pleaded Headley who is currently serving a 35-year sentence in a US jail for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes which left 166 dead and hundreds injured.
 
His deposition before the Mumbai court follows an order by Judge Sanap on November 18 asking Headley to be presented via video-conference on December 10.
 
Police had sought the court's permission to write to the US Deparment of Justice as Headley had been convicted in the US, but never faced the Indian courts.
 
On several trips to India, Headley had carried out recces of some of locations, including Hotel Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel Trident, targeted by the Pakistani terrorists who sneaked into Mumbai from sea.
 
In 2009, he again travelled to India and recced more locations in other cities, including New Delhi. On one trip, he became close friends with Rahul Bhatt, son of eminent film maker Mahesh Bhatt.
 
Headley, now 54, has also been suspected or charged with involvement in several terrorist cases around the world and had made video-recordings of some of the sites targeted in the 26/11 attack.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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