Illiterate Odisha Samiti Sabhya loses membership battle in HC

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Oct 4:

A recent judgement of Odisha High Court has made it amply clear that illiterates would not be eligible to contest panchayat elections.


Upholding the ruling of the lower courts, the High Court has rejected the writ petition filed by a Samiti Sabhya (member) Surubali Deep and refused to intervene in the matter.

Deep was elected as Samiti Sabhya on Feb 2, 2012 from Bubel gram panchayat under Puintala block in Bolangir district.

One Yamuna Nayak had filed a petition against Deep at Bolangir Election Tribunal and Civil Judge (Senior Division) to declare Surubali’s election null and void on the ground that the latter is unable to read or write Odia and has more than two children, violating the norm.

Adjudicating in the case, the Tribunal had ruled that there was enough evidence against the defendant to declare her election invalid.

The Samiti Sabhya went in appeal against the Tribunal’s ruling to the district judge’s court on Nov 22, 2013. The district court upheld the ruling of the Tribunal and rejected the case on January 27 this year. Following this, she appealed before the High Court and the case was heard in the court of Justice Raghubir Dash.

Admitting the petition on Feb 16, the court put an interim stay on the lower court’s ruling and issued notice to the plaintiff.

During the hearing in the case, the plaintiff’s counsel argued that there was no flaw in Tribunal’s ruling. In the counter argument, the defendant’s counsel said it was illegal to ask his client to read Odia in the court.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the single bench court ruled that it is well under the purview of the Tribunal to ask a person to read or write Odia in controversial situation to unravel the truth.

The court vacated the interim stay granted on Feb 16 and rejected the writ petition filed by the Samiti Sabhya.

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