Date of Order:
R.C. LAHOTI, ASHOK BHAN & ARUN KUMAR.
Javed & Ors.
State of Haryana & Ors.
- Writ petitioners challenge Panchas and Sarpanchas’ disqualifications for violating Section 175(1)(q) or 177(1), arguing it violates Article 25’s religious freedom and personal freedom, and is discriminatory.
- The legislation disqualifies individuals for having multiple children, but it does not affect their capacity to serve in Panchayat offices. Article 243G grants the Legislature powers to create laws granting Panchayats self-government authority, subject to specific conditions.
- The Court held that the disqualification for having more than two living children in elections is a national interest disqualification. The constitutionality of Sections 175(1)(q) and 177(1) is challenged, but both clauses are deemed violating the Constitution.
- Disqualification for having more than two living children in elections is a national interest, tested by Articles 21 and 25 for constitutional validity.
- Implementing reforms at grassroots or top levels, like Panchayats, can improve health, social, and economic conditions in rural areas. Sections 175(1)(q) and 177(1) of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, are constitutionally legitimate.
- Article 14 prohibits class legislation but allows reasonable classification for legislation. To be permissible, classification must have intelligible differentia and rational relation to the object sought by the statute. This can be based on geographical or object-based conditions.
- The Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, disqualifies individuals with more than two children from holding Panchayat offices. However, 177(1) allows enforcement after one year. A woman’s conception at the Act’s commencement does not disqualify any couple.
- Individuals holding office disqualification due to childbirth one year after Act commencement are disabled from continuing, despite not being disqualified on election date. Petitioner seeks special leave petition.
- The vires of Sections 175(1)(q) and 177(1) of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 (Act No. 11 of 1994) (hence referred to as the Act, for short) are at the heart of this batch of writ petitions and appeals.
- Does it make sense to judge the legality of a law that imposes a disqualification in the context of elections using the standard of a violation of fundamental rights?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
- Several writ petitioners and appellants have been disqualified from Panchas/Sarpanchas office due to disqualification under Section 175(1)(q) or 177(1). The constitutional validity of this provision is challenged in various writ petitions, with counsel representing various parties heard.
- The provision is arbitrary, discriminatory, adversely affects personal life, Article 21 freedom, and Article 25 freedom of religion.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The State of Haryana has defended its legislation, and the Standing Counsel for the State has also heard the case.
- The legislation’s disqualification for having multiple children does not affect a person’s capacity to serve in Panchayat offices. The purpose of the enactment is to popularize Family Welfare/Family Planning Programme, which aligns with National Population Policy.
- Article 243G of the Constitution grants the Legislature the power to create laws granting Panchayats powers and authority for self-government. These laws may delegate responsibilities and powers to Panchayats, subject to specific conditions.
- It is not permissible to compare a state’s legislation with another law, even if it is enacted by Parliament or another state legislature. The sources of power differ, and those who exercise power differ.
- The Constitution Bench in The State of Madhya Pradesh Vs. G.C. Mandawar held that the power to declare a law void under Article 13 must be exercised with reference to the specific legislation. Article 14 does not authorize the striking down of a law of one state if its provisions are discriminatory.
- The provision in Haryana Act No.11 of 1994 is not arbitrary, unreasonable, or discriminatory, aiming for socioeconomic welfare and healthcare, and not violating Article 14 of the Constitution.
- Disqualification for having more than two living children in elections is not a fundamental right or reasonable, but rather a national interest disqualification. The sustainability of the attack on constitutional validity is tested separately by reference to Articles 21 and 25.
- The constitutionality of Sections 175(1)(q) and 177(1) is challenged, but it is unsuccessful on all fronts. Both clauses are regarded as violating the Constitution. The rules are beneficial and in the general interest. All applications that contest the constitutionality of the aforementioned laws are subject to being rejected.
- Reforms can be introduced at the grass-root level or at the top, such as Panchayats, which are local self-governance institutions. Haryana’s decision to subscribe to population control legislation can improve health, social, and economic conditions in rural areas. Support from elected leaders, opinion makers, and religious leaders can influence behaviour and response patterns, encouraging communities to be attentive to maternal and child health services.
- Strong support from political, community, business, professional, religious, media, film stars, sports personalities, and opinion makers can enhance the acceptance of small family norms throughout society.
- Sections 175(1)(q) and 177(1) of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, were found by the Court to be constitutionally legitimate, and as a result, the applications that questioned the legality of the stated provisions are likely to be dismissed.