Male relatives of some newly-elected women panchayat office-bearers and members were administered the oath of office instead of the latter in a few villages of Madhya Pradesh, following which an official was suspended in one district and an inquiry was ordered in another.
The male relatives, who included fathers and husbands of some women, took oath on Thursday at a few places in Sagar and Damoh districts. The videos of the ‘oath-taking’ ceremonies went viral on social media.
After the videos surfaced, Sagar district panchayat’s chief executive officer (CEO) issued an order on Friday, suspending Jaisinagar village panchayat’s secretary Asharam Sahu with immediate effect on charges of administering oath of office to the husbands, brother-in-law and fathers of women, who were recently elected to the panchayat office.
When asked, Sahu told reporters that the male members of the family were allowed to take oath as despite repeated instructions to attend the event, the women failed to turn up and instead sent their relatives on their behalf.
Of the 10 women elected in Jaisinagar village panchayat, the father of one of them, husbands of two others and the brother-in-law of another woman took oath in place of the elected members, sources said.
Similarly, in Damoh district, the male members were allegedly administered the oath of office in Gaisabad and Piparia Kirau village panchayats, following which district collector S Krishna Chaitanya sought reports from respective Janpad Panchayat’s CEOs.
Reports have been sought over the information about male members taking oath in place of the women elected members and further steps against the panchayat secretary concerned will be taken after receiving it, the collector said.
Social media users claimed that such incidents of taking oath by male members in place of elected women panchayat office-bearers took place at several places across the state.