Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J. and Jyotsna Rewal Dua, J. while dismissing the present petition on lack of merits observed,“For elections in Gram Panchayat, it is the ‘Block’, which will be the relevant factor for determining the eligibility of the Gram Panchayat for purposes of providing reservation and not the ‘Constituency.”
Petitioner has laid challenge to the notification dated 11-12-2020 issued by the respondents under Section 125 of Himachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act read with Rule 87 of Himachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj (Election) Rules, 1994, to the extent it reflects Gram Panchayat Kalujhinda, Development Block Dharampur, District Solan as reserved for women belonging to Scheduled Caste category. Petitioner prays for issuance of direction to the respondents for reserving the post of Pradhan in Gram Panchayat, Kalujhinda for Scheduled Tribe category.
Relevant provisions of Himachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj (Election) Rules
Rule 87 (4): If the number of offices to be reserved for the members of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes is more than one, the Gram Sabha having the next highest percentage or population of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be reserved for the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, as the case may be, and so on:
Provided that if the total population of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes in a Block is less than 5% of the total population, then no office shall be reserved.
Rule 28(8): The Constituencies reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and women belonging to general category on the basis of percentage of population shall be rotated after every five
Years from the date of first election. At the time of next election, the constituency/constituencies having the next highest percentage of population shall be reserved for members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes including women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and women belonging to general category and so on for subsequent elections: Provided that the reservation for a particular category shall not be repeated unless all other constituencies are covered by rotation: Provided further that the reservation for a particular category shall not be rotated in such a constituency where the population of that category is less than 5% of the total population of that constituency.
Section 2(b) of the Act: ‘Constituency’ means a territorial constituency of a Gram Sabha, Panchayat Samiti or Zila Parishad, as the case may, for the representation of which a member is to be elected or has been elected and in relation to Pradhan or Up-Pradhan of a Gram Panchayat, shall mean the whole of Gram Sabha area.
Section 2(3) of the Act: ‘Block’ as per Section 2(3) of the H.P. Panchayati Raj Act “means such areas in a district as may be, declared by the Government to be a Block”
While rejecting the prayer of the petitioners, the Court said, “…it is the proviso to Sub Rule 4 of Rule 87 of the Himachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj (Election) Rules, which will govern the field in respect of determination of eligibility of a Gram Panchayat for the purpose of reservation and not Rule 28. Total scheduled Tribe population percentage of Gram Panchayat Kalujhinda as per 2011 population census is 27.28% but the Scheduled Tribe population percentage of the Block being admittedly less than 5% of the total population, therefore, by application of Rule 87(4) of H.P. Panchayati Raj (Election) Rules, 1994, the seat in question could not be reserved for Scheduled Tribe category.”[Nirmal Singh v. State of Himachal Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine HP 26, decided on 04-01-2021]
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