Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HC slams govt over SC, STs seats

Ahmedabad: In a landmark judgement a division bench of the Gujarat High Court made reservations compulsory for elected representatives belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes across more than 12,000 villages panchayats in Gujarat. For decades the Gujarat government had avoided reserving seats for representatives of these backward classes in close to 5,000 villages panchayat citing “inadequate populations” of these villages.
A division bench of justice VM Sahai and Justice AJ Desai came down heavily on the state government on Tuesday and directed all the concerned departments, including the state election commission to ensure that detailed list of these “lesser” populated villages is prepared and ensured that every village in the state has a seat reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The bench observed that the weaker sections were prevented from providing effective leadership as dominant sections captured power and used it for their ends. This led to loss of faith in grassroot democracy.
The issue was raised by two petitioners Nathabhai Zala and Mohan Vaghela of Thoriyali and Khodapipar villages in Rajkot district after the state government failed to respond to ensure reserved seats for the backward classes in their respective villages. The division bench ordered that fresh panchayati elections be held on December 29 in these villages after seats are reserved for the backward community members. The bench also cited section 19(B) of the Panchayat Act 1993 which mandates reserved seats for backward classes in panchayat polls.
“The reservation was mandatory under article 243 B of our constitution. The article mandates that seats be reserved for these classes, be it a lesser or a sizeable populated village. The division bench had ordered the state government should now ensure that every village in Gujarat has a seat reserved for representatives from backward communities. Notices to this effect has been sent to the state government and the state election commission,” says counsel for the petitioners Jayesh Bhairaviya.

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