Stating that the government has to conduct free and fair elections, the Bombay High Court on Thursday refused to grant relief to deputy collectors who had sought exemption from election duty during the city civic polls scheduled for February 16.
A division bench of justice SA Bobde and justice Mridula Bhatkar pointed out that this is not some private work that the deputy collectors have been directed to do. "It's in the line of your duty," the court said.
The judges also said that granting any relief to the deputy collectors would be interfering with the administration of the government. "We don't want to venture into the administrative part of it," Bobde said.
The 36 deputy collectors from various departments had moved court stating that their regular work was getting affected as they get called in for all elections, to work as returning officers. "There are so many elections in this country. What can we do?" the court said.
Advocate Mihir Desai had earlier argued that deputy collectors are being asked to work even for the Mira Road municipal council elections and that the election commission ought to have exhausted civic officers before assigning the task to deputy collectors.
The election commission had pointed out that if the civic body staff is assigned duty during Assembly elections, why then can't these officials work during corporation polls.The court agreed with the election commission's contention that if all civic officers are put on duty, it might affect the working of the corporation.