NAGPUR: Asked to decide whether a woman who has three children, including a stepchild, could contest panchayat polls, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled that stepchildren would be excluded from the legal limit of two children.
“When the member of the panchayat is a male, he would be disqualified if he is responsible for the birth of more than two children, irrespective of the number of wedlocks. Similarly, when the member is a female, she would be disqualified if she has given birth to three children, irrespective of the number of wedlocks,” held a division bench of justices Atul Chandurkar and Vrushali Joshi.
A single judge bench had referred the case to the HC CJ, who asked the division bench to answer “whether the expression ‘two children’ used in Section 14(1)(j-1) of Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act has been used in a generic sense to include all children from the present or previous spouse, or whether… (it refers to) only children born from the present spouse”.
The division bench said “two children” in the context of a male member would include all children for whose birth he is responsible. “In the context of a female member, it would include all children she has given birth to.”
Petitioner Khairunisa, a second wife, had approached the HC after being disqualified as a panchayat member for having more than two children. Her husband has two children from the first wife and another from her.

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