The office of the Mumbai Suburban Collector has sent out nearly 4,000 notices to government employees who skipped the first day of training for election duty on October 2.
The notices were sent out Thursday, The Indian Express has learnt. The next training will be conducted on October 9, and the collector has warned employees of “stricter action” if they failed to turn up for the poll duty.
Government employees are deployed as polling personnel as per Section 26 (sub-section 1 and 3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951. Returning officers of each constituency were asked to report the names of those who did not show up for the training.
The absent employees have been warned that if they fail to give a written explanation for their absence to the returning officer within 24 hours, they will be liable for criminal and disciplinary action under Section 134 of the Act, 1951. Under the Act, those who disobey rules can be arrested and may face a departmental inquiry. Those given poll duties are required to attend two days of training, and be present on the eve of the election and the polling day.
Meanwhile, a few teachers have complained that their medical reports are not being accepted by election officials.
“The case of teachers who have genuine health problems should be considered. Moreover, we have to report at 5.30 am instead of 6 am. While the voting ends at 7 pm, it is 10 pm by the time ballot papers are submitted,” said Uday Nare, a teacher at Hansraj Morarji School. Nare demanded that women polling agents be provided with vehicles during elections.
“Notices have been sent to about 4,000 employees, including teachers, in 26 Assemblies. The first attendance is important for assuring and confirming that they will be available for the election duty,” said Mumbai Suburban Collector Milind Borikar, adding that unless there was a “genuine case of a pregnant woman or a terminally ill patient”, the office will not give an option to miss the training.
Till date, the Mumbai Suburban Collector’s office had not taken action against any absent employee. “But if they don’t turn up for the duty, the office will take stricter action… A staff of 60,000 is required for polling as well as counting across 26 Assembly constituencies in the Mumbai Suburban district,” Borikar added. Affiliation to a political party, religious tours, health issues and residing in far off areas were some of the excuses cited by officials to avoid poll duty, said ex-MLA Nasim Khan.