Pune Private School Teachers Called for Lok Sabha Election Duty: A Mixed Response Emerges

Usually, the ECI needs around 50,000 people for poll duty. Teachers and, in several cases, non-teaching staff have been summoned for poll duty this time.
Share If You Like The Article

While teachers of government-run schools have always been called for election duty, this time teachers from private institutions in Pune have also been tasked with polling assignments.

Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court directed associations of unaided and private schools in Maharashtra to ask teachers of its member schools to cooperate with the requests by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to be available for Lok Sabha elections duty. The High Court also told the school bodies to immediately inform its member schools, who got requisition notices, to provide information on staff sought by the poll body.

Suhas Diwase, District Collector, Pune, private teachers can be pressed for election duty after the decision of the Bombay High Court. “In Pune, we never had felt the need for such conscription but this time we will appoint teachers for election duty,” he said.

Diwase said these teachers would be asked to undergo training and paid an allowance as well. The teachers are supposed to attend three-day training — one-day training a fortnight before the election day, a day just before the voting day, and on the day of voting.

Usually, the ECI needs around 50,000 people for poll duty. Teachers and, in several cases, non-teaching staff have been summoned for poll duty this time. As many as 1,628 government officers, bank employees, and Central and State employees will be on polling duty from the Pune Lok Sabha constituency.

Hrishikesh Soman, Principal, Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce, said they have submitted a list of teaching and non-teaching staff to the election office and some of them have been allotted poll duty. Soman said, “I do not have information about exactly how many staff members have got the duty but some non-teaching staff and peons have definitely been called. They will be attending the upcoming training. As for teachers, their names have been submitted as required”.

‘Can’t force them to take up election duty’

However, the effort of the ECI to rope in private school teachers has met with mixed reactions.

Jagruti Dharmadhikari, Vice-President, Maharashtra Rajya Shikshan Sanstha Mahamandal, said, “Election duty and such extra work is fine for teachers of government schools and aided schools because they are legally supposed to go for election duty and they are also paid much better.”

The principal of an ISC board school in Pune said they were asked for a list of teaching and administrative staff members in October last year. “We had instead responded citing a court order through our legal advisor,” said the principal.

The principal said officials visited the school earlier in the week to again request them to send some staff as they are still short of 300 people. The principal said, “Most of our 60-member staff is teaching staff and I cannot force them to take up election duty. They have young children and other family responsibilities to take care of”.

The principal of another Pune-based unaided state board school said it was approached by the district collector’s office asking them to send some staff for election duty. While some of their teachers have already been named for election duty now, as per the recent court orders, the principal and teachers are still irked over the matter.

“We even have a teacher whose child is physically disabled and she has no one else to take care of the child. She somehow manages to come to work but a full-day election duty that too for three days is not going to be possible for someone like her,” the principal said.

Many teachers have made plans or booked tickets for holidays in May and will have to cancel those due to this, she said.

Application for relief from election duty

Anjali Kulkarni, Tehsildar, Sanjay Gandhi Yojana Branch, said, there are 19 reasons under which relief from polling duty can be granted. “These include a person being out of the country for official duty, pregnant or lactating lady, severe illness, people retiring within six months, three days and before and after a family wedding, etc,” said Kulkarni.

Based on such reasons, Kulkarni said she has accepted nearly 150 applications for relief from election duty in the Kothrud Assembly constituency.

“There are also cases where people couldn’t make it for training earlier due to some reasons. But they are available now. I will be conducting training sessions for 79-80 such people now. For example, Abhinav Kala Mhavidyalay had their exams during training sessions and they had a limited staff. But they are available now, so they will be participating in training sessions,” said Kulkarni.

For the polling duty, these employees will be given lunch and training remunerations, but only on the polling day, once they have completed their duty.

Share If You Like The Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *