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Act can be slapped against teachers: Legal experts

Legal experts are of the opinion that the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) 2011 can be slapped against agitating teachers.

Written by PRASAD JOSHI |
March 13, 2013 1:20:02 am

Legal experts are of the opinion that the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) 2011 can be slapped against agitating teachers. Teachers,making several demands,have boycotted exam-related duty,thus affecting careers of lakhs of students in the state.

Speaking to Newsline,legal advisor Sudhakar Velankar said ESMA has a clause that empowers the government to bring any service related to public under the purview of the Act to term it as an essential one.

“The State government can invoke ESMA against teachers,declaring educational services or examination-related work as an essential service since interest of lakhs of students is involved,” he said.

Echoing similar views,senior advocate Bhaskarrao Avhad said teachers’ boycott on examination-related work can be termed as ‘illegal strike’ as per the ESMA.

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“Assessment of answer-sheets is one of the duties of teachers,and abstaining from this ‘essential service’ with common understanding amounts to illegal strike as defined by the Act,” he said.

Legal expert Asim Sarode said it was unjust on the part of teacher community to ask for their rights while neglecting their basic duty of carrying out examination-related work.

Legal experts said the conditions are conducive for the state government to invoke ESMA,if it wants to resort to this step at all,since the Budget session of the State Legislature is also on.

“The assent of the State Legislature will be required to issue a formal notification regarding bringing teachers under ESMA as one of the legal ways. Since the Budget session is already on,the government can easily do this,” said Avhad.

The Act

ESMA came into force from August 3,2012. It was enacted by the State government to provide for maintenance of certain essential services so as to not affect normal life of the community; and provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Act primarily terms services related to supply of gas,milk,water,electricity,public health,sanitation and transport of passengers and goods as essential. Importantly,all offences under the Act are non-bailable and different punishments are meted out for different offences,including imprisonment up to a year or Rs 2,000 fine or both for illegal strike and instigation as well.

The section

Any other service,post,employment or class thereof,connected with matters in respect of which the State Legislature has power to make laws and when the State government is of the opinion that strike in such services,post,employment or class thereof would affect the public safety or the maintenance of the supplies or services essential to the life of the community or would result in the infliction of grave hardships on the community,and which the State government by notification in the Official Gazette,declares t be an essential service for the purpose of the Act.

— Section 2 (a) (vi) of Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act.

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