Chandigarh, Aug 11: The Haryana government on Tuesday decided to amend the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, making it mandatory for candidates in panchayat elections to have basic educational qualification and functional toilets at home.
Candidates with criminal charges framed against them and loan defaulters would be barred from contesting panchayati raj institutions (PRI) elections too.
The new amendments, approved by the Haryana cabinet meet here on Tuesday, have prescribed that Class 10th will be the minimum academic qualification for all levels of elected representatives of PRIs.
"To ensure that women and scheduled caste voters are not placed in a disadvantageous situation, the minimum educational qualification for them to be considered suitable for candidacy of membership of the PRIs will be class eighth class," a state government spokesman said here.
"This amendment will enable elected representatives of PRIs to be more accountable, as they would no longer be able to take excuse of illiteracy.
"Another reason is that even after introduction of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment, illiteracy is a common excuse by the elected representatives for poor functioning of the Gram Panchayats, Panchayat Samities and Zila Parishads," the state government has said in its note to justify the amendment.
"Most of the elected members of PRIs are dependent on the government functionaries or their relatives or friend, who many a times take advantage of them," it added.
"The move is aimed at improving the quality of leadership and governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions," Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said.
People against whom charges have been framed by the competent court for grave criminal offences, punishable with not less than 10-year imprisonment, would not be allowed to contest elections till acquittal from court.
Defaulters of cooperative loans would be debarred from contesting elections to PRIs.
Another amendment has made it mandatory for candidates to ensure that they have cleared their outstanding dues of rural domestic electricity connections.
"Any candidate desirous of contesting elections for any part of a PRI will have to file a self-certified statement that there is a functional toilet in his or her residence," the spokesman added.