Availability of teaching staff of higher education department for election duty in the future could be under a cloud unless a matter arising out of a petition filed in the high court seeking exemption from election duty is resolved by the state government and the Election Commission of India ( ECI).
About 5,000 teaching staff of the higher education department is assigned as presiding officers and polling officers in elections and constitute the backbone of polling work. The total strength of teaching staff of the department is about 6,000.
Sources said Mukesh Dixit had filed a petition at the MP high court during the previous mandi elections in the state demanding that teaching staff of the higher education department be exempted from election duty.
The petitioner contented that the teaching staff should not be made to work under staff that is drawing lower salary than them.
The high court is said to have upheld the contention and directed the state government that in future elections, teaching staff of the higher education department not be placed for election duty under officials drawing lower salary than them.
The matter is now under consideration of the state government and the office of the chief electoral officer.
Attempts are being made to find a way out failing which the state government and election commission will be short of about 5,000 personnel for crucial election duty.
CEO, MP Jaideep Govind said the matter would be resolved before the elections.
“We will write to the general administration department (GAD) and address the matter. We will find a way out while honouring the court’s directive,” he said.
Principal secretary, higher education, JN Kansotia told HT that he has not received a copy of the order as yet.
“I have not received a copy of the order, elections are like national duty where every government employee has to play a role,” he said.
Scale-wise, teaching staff of the higher education department would be higher than administrative employees who conduct elections including tehsildars, deputy collectors and even collectors.