To encourage people to vote, the state government has directed managements of all shops, malls, multiplexes and commercial establishments to grant a paid leave to its employees who want to vote.
However the government, on Wednesday insisted that this should not be viewed as an order to shutdown all shops and establishments in the state.
“Essential services like hospitals, chemists shops, fire brigades and the police department will function,” said Arvind Kumar, Labour Commissioner (Maharashtra).
The government has set up 28 squads across the state to see that the direction is not violated.
“If any employer is caught keeping his employee from a paid holiday on October 13, the government will a fine them Rs 500 and their case will be referred to the election commission for further action,” said Labour Secretary Kavita Gupta.
She specified that the state government has not ordered a shutdown for shops and establishments. However, it may become an informal shutdown in some establishments if the employees do not turn up in large numbers.
“If they can function by abiding by the law and providing a paid leave to their employees who have to vote, we have no problem,” she added.
The idea behind the move, she said, is increasing the voting percentage. The department observed the last elections, where employers were asked to close shops and establishments on voting day instead of a weekly off.
Gupta said, “It was seen that employees were not paid their salaries which prevented them for casting their vote.”
Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, on Wednesday said: “The polling day has been declared as paid holiday under section 135 (b) of Representation of People Act, 1951.”
Malls have still to take a decision on whether they will be shut but they will abide by the rule.
“We will grant paid leaves to all the employees who will ask for it. If majority of the mall partners decide to keep the mall shut, we will shut all outlets of mall. However a final decision will be taken by October 12," said P Shetty, promotions manager, Rmall at Mulund.