The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday criticised the practice of husbands acting as proxies for women pradhans in Uttar Pradesh, observing that such interference undermines the objective of providing reservation for women in politics.
Dismissing a writ petition filed by a ‘pradhanpati’ (husband of a woman village head), Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery said that a ‘pradhanpati’ has no business to interfere with the working of gram sabha.
“The term ‘Pradhanpati’ is a very popular and widely used in Uttar Pradesh. It is used for the husband of a woman Pradhan. Despite being an unauthorized authority, ‘Pradhanpati’ unauthorisedly, usually undertakes work of a woman Pradhan, i.e., his wife,” the court said.
“There are many instances where a woman Pradhan only acts like a rubber stamp and for all practical purpose, all major decisions are taken by so called ‘Pradhanpati’, and elected representative just acts like mute spectator. The present writ petition is a glaring example of such a situation,” it observed.
The writ petition was filed by Gaon Sabha, village Madpuri in Nagina tehsil of Bijnor district through its pradhan Karmjeet Kaur. The writ petition was not accompanied by any resolution in favour of elected pradhan authorizing her husband to file this writ petition but the affidavit accompanied with the petition was sworn by Sukhdev Singh, the husband of Kaur.
“In the capacity of Pradhan, petitioner has no power to delegate her rights, duties and obligations to her husband or any other person, arising out of her elected post,” the court said.
“The ‘pairokar’, i.e., ‘Pradhanpati’ has no business to interfere with the working of
Gaon Sabha. If such act is permitted it will not only frustrate objective of women empowerment but also object of providing specific reservation to women to come forward and join main stream of politics and increase their participation in social,
economic and cultural growth of nation,” the court added.
Justice Shamshery said the court is aware that there are women Pradhans in Uttar Pradesh, who are exercising their power, rights and duties and legal obligations effectively and are doing very good work for village concerned.
However, the present case does not appear to be such, the court said.
In view of above, the writ petition is dismissed with cost of Rs 5,000 each to be paid by petitioner Karmjeet Kaur and her husband, Sukhdev Singh (pairokar in present writ petition) by demand draft from their respective bank accounts in favour of Registrar General of this court within two weeks.
The court also said that a copy of the order to be sent to Bijnor district magistrate, so that Sukhdev Singh shall be barred from entering the office of Gaon Sabha concerned in the capacity of ‘pradhanpati’ as well as to act as a representative of pradhan for rest of her present term of office.
“A copy of this order shall also be sent to State Election Commission so that it may consider to issue a circular for all candidates for future elections, cautioning them to be careful in exercising their powers, functions and duties as a representative of village not as mere rubber stamp of her husband or relatives (in case of woman Pradhan),” the court said.