Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Poll duty for unaided school teachers irks Bombay HC
The Bombay high court (HC) on Monday came down heavily on the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Maharashtra for assigning election duty to teachers from unaided schools, asking the state election commission (SEC) to file its defence by Wednesday.
The Unaided Schools’ Forum, through a petition filed by senior counsel Mihir Desai, said that section 159 (2) (iv) of the Representation of People’s Act only includes staff of “an institution which is established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act, or which is controlled, or financed wholly or substantially by the Central Government or a state government”. “Unaided schools are not established under any Act, but have been given registration and affiliation by the state. They can’t be asked to come for election duty,” submitted Desai.
The Election Commission of India (ECI), through advocate Pradeep Rajagopal, told the division bench of justices Abhay Oka and MS Sanklecha that the plea by the forum was not maintainable, as the notices were issued to individual teachers and if they had a grievance they should have approached the court in personal capacity.
The bench upheld Desai’s contentions. “The chief electoral officer did not apply his mind as to whether teachers from such institutions could be called for election duty. He should have ascertained whether these institutions could be termed as an authority mentioned in section 159 of the Act,” said Oka.
The bench said if the ECI’s objection were to be considered, they would have to give the teachers a month to approach the court. Until then, the teachers would get interim relief from the order.