Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday passed directions to the state legislative assembly to decide a minimum educational qualification for persons contesting elections to the Parliament and state legislature.
A division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey while hearing a petition on this matter remarked that the court cannot directly decide the qualifications for candidates to contest these elections, and this has to be decided by the legislative assembly. In case the qualifications are not properly observed on the ground, then the court can interfere.
The PIL on this issue was filed by Advocate Akhail Ahmad. It spoke of the ills that plague the system after a candidate lacking educational qualification or convicted of a crime is elected to the Parliament, legislative assembly or panchayat.
“A person with a minimum educational qualification should be eligible to contest elections. It is humiliating to find an illiterate person representing a large section of the society,” the PIL said.
Seeking to debar convicts and undertrials from contesting elections, the petitioner submitted that such persons pollute the elections and stigmatise the system.
The petitioner submitted that the Supreme Court had directed the Election Commission of India to ask candidates contesting elections to Parliament and state legislature to file affidavits indicating their antecedents.
“The right to vote is not recognised as a fundamental right but is governed by the Representation of Peoples Act 1951. Part 7 of the 1957 Representation of Peoples Act of Jammu and Kashmir prescribes the qualification and the disqualification for membership of state legislature but the qualification stipulated don’t mandate a minimum educational qualification and the same is not available in the part second of the Act of 1951,” reads the petition.