Fake mark sheets trump poll norm

Rajasthan set minimum qualification for contesting panchayat polls

The Rajasthan government is facing a hurdle in enforcing the minimum qualifications set for contesting elections to Panchayati Raj institutions. During the recent round of elections, many candidates furnished fake certificates to beat the qualification norm.

As the government goes ahead with plans to get the ordinance fixing the qualification made into law in the upcoming Budget Session of Assembly, steps are also being planned to check the use of unfair means.

In one such move, the district education officers may be asked to attest Education Board certificates submitted by candidates, a senior official told The Hindu here on Monday. This may become mandatory in the August elections, he said. However, these officers could attest only certificates issued by the Education Boards and not those by schools.

Ever since the conclusion of the recent elections, complaints have cropped up about fake transfer certificates and marks sheets. At Bandikui in Dausa district, 28 elected sarpanchs were found to have obtained these fake documents from a private school. The racket was unearthed following a complaint from a defeated candidate. Investigations revealed that the school had issued 150 such certificates to contestants. Two members of the school management have been arrested.

The Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014, sets a pass in Class VIII as the minimum qualification required for a sarpanch, except in tribal-reserved areas where a pass in Class V is required. A pass in Class X is mandatory for contesting the zilla parishad or panchayat samiti elections.Rajasthan is the first State in the country where such qualifications have been made mandatory. The government will now have to decide how to deal with the malpractice because the numbers may run into thousands, if police sources are to be believed.

Several posts are still vacant because there are no eligible candidates; many candidates were elected unopposed as there were very few who met the criterion.

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