Teachers spared poll duty on school days | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Teachers spared poll duty on school days

In a major reprieve for school teachers as well as students in the state, the Bombay high court on Tuesday ruled that the State Election Commission (SEC) cannot compel teachers to undertake election duties on days when schools are functioning.

mumbai Updated: Oct 05, 2011 01:46 IST
HT Correspondent

In a major reprieve for school teachers as well as students in the state, the Bombay high court on Tuesday ruled that the State Election Commission (SEC) cannot compel teachers to undertake election duties on days when schools are functioning.

A division bench of justices B H Marlapalle and P D Kode issued the directive after noting an apex court order of 2008 restraining the Election Commission from engaging school teachers on school days. The judges said the commission has to comply with the Supreme Court directive and cannot summon teachers on these days.

The directive assumes significance as the city and many others in the state will witness civic elections next year. Teachers and students have been complaining that these extra duties interfere with the functioning of schools and adversely impact completion of syllabi.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Maharashtra Rajya Shikshak Parishad, an association of school teachers, challenging show-cause notices issued by the SEC to several teachers of private, unaided and government-aided schools from Thane for failing to attend a training programme held in June last year.

The notices were issued seeking replies on why criminal action, as provided for in the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, should not be initiated against the teachers for not attending the training programme.

Advocate N V Bandiwadekar, representing the teachers’ association, pointed out that the SEC had organised the training programme on June 14, the day when primary and secondary schools were scheduled to start the new academic year, because of which the teachers could not attend.

During the course of arguments, Bandiwadekar pointed out the apex court ruling of 2008 holding that working of schools and the studies of students cannot be allowed to be affected at the cost of election duties to be performed by school teachers.

The lawyer also submitted that school teachers work 32 hours a week, and despite that, they are compelled to put in extra work by way of election duties, work related to the Census etc. He also complained about the added burden of obtaining information like mobile phone numbers and email IDs of voters, in addition to the usual data collected by the Election Commission.