THE THARA police in Banaskantha district’s Kankrej taluka issued arrest warrants against two government primary teachers on Saturday for dereliction of election duty. The teachers when informed about the warrants however joined their assigned duties by evening. Though one of them was relieved from his duty late in the evening on medical grounds.
Confirming this, Banaskantha Superintendent of Police (SP) Pradip Shejul said, “Arrest warrants were issued against two teachers where Thara police executed the warrants but arrests were not done as they reported to duty.”
The assistant returning officer (ARO) S J Chavda Kankrej on whose orders the arrest warrants were issued against a government primary teacher in Anandpura village and Padar village, both in Kankrej taluka told The Indian Express, “Both of these teachers were assigned duties of presiding officers. This is not the first incidence where they did not report as they did not report for the two training rounds too held last two months.” Click here for more election news
However, he said that one of them have been relieved from his election duty on medical grounds. He had not informed authorities earlier of his critical medical conditiion.
“After discussing with the collector,we have relieved one from the election duty on medical grounds. If he had communicated this earlier we would have exempted him from this duty but he never reported and never informed us about this. But today when he came with his medical file, it was decided to exempt him immediately,”. Chavda revealed.
Though, Chavda said that before issuing warrants, they were asked to report through phone to which they denied. After which notices were issued to both these teachers nearly two weeks back to which the ARO did not receive any reply.
“They were given due time for explanation and orders for the arrest warrants were only issued after they repeatedly failed to report on duty and reply to the notice,” he said.
Confirming the teachers reported on duty on Saturday evening, the Thara police station in-charge M J Chaudhary said, “We received a message from the ARO today morning for the arrest of two teachers. After which we initmated them about the warrants and that if they do not join their duty immediately we will be taking action against them under the legal provisions. But they agreed and joined in the evening.”
The PSI further said that their reporting has been communicated orally to the ARO.
On the legal standing of this action against these two teachers, when contacted, Gujarat CEO S Murali Krishna said, “I too have heard but do not have details about the case. I have sought a report from the collector.”
This is not the first of such incident as The Indian Express reported on September 22,2018 that arrest warrants were issued against 21 booth-level officers (BLOs), majority of these BLOs were school teachers.
This included arrest warrants against three teachers from Navsari district for failing to turn up for their assigned jobs in the three-day electoral roll revision drive taken up by the ECI for the upcoming general election. Police teams were sent to pick up the three teachers and they were brought to the mamlatdar’s office.
Following a report by The Indian Express on September 19,2018 on the action taken against the three teachers from Navsari, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had sought a reply from Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).
The report revealed that similar arrest warrants were issued by concerned district administrative officials in five districts — Gir Somnath, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Jamnagar, Dahod and Navsari.
Among these, the highest number of warrants were issued in Khambhaliya constituency of Devbhoomi Dwarka district, where a total of nine warrants were issued against BLOs by the electoral registration officers (ERO) and assistant electoral registration officers (AEROs).
Six warrants were issued from Jamnagar North constituency in Jamnagar district, two from Limkheda in Dahod and one in Somnath from Gir Somnath, all for alleged ‘negligence of duty’.
An official statement issued on September 19,2018 by Gujarat CEO S Murali Krishna stated, “Some BLOs were absent at their respective polling station on 16.9.2018 declared as special campaign day and they were also absent from the training programme for BLOs given by EROs through SATCOM. As such, concerned EROs/AEROs have taken disciplinary actions against such BLOs for negligence of their duty.”
Apart from September 16, September 30 and October 14 are the dates for the special campaign to enrol first-time voters who have completed 18 years of age, and those who want to make corrections in their registered details.
“It has come to the notice of this office that in some cases warrants have been issued against BLOs who were absent. Forthcoming General Elections will be held using electoral roll prepared on the basis of ongoing Electoral Roll Summary Revision Programme. For preparation of updated and error free electoral roll, sincerity of BLOs is necessary. Under these circumstances, action has been taken against BLOs for negligence to their duties with respect to work related to special campaign programme which is of national importance,” the statement read.
However, the CEO maintained that the action was not consistent with the law. “Action (issuing warrants) taken by EROs/AEROs is not consistent with the provision of law framed for Government Employees,” the statement said. Navsari district’s Gandevi taluka Mamlatdar (Taluka Chief officer) had issued arrest warrants against three female teachers and instructed police to arrest them immediately.
On Saturday’s similar action, Murali said, “The previous warrants issued last year was during the electoral roll but this is during elections. But I too am waiting for the collectors report.”
Police arrested one of the teachers, Nidhi Bharat Patel, as she was taking a class in Antaliya village of the taluka.
Arrest warrants were issued against three teachers from Navsari district for failing to turn up for their assigned jobs in the three-day electoral roll revision drive taken up by the ECI for the upcoming general election. Police teams were sent to pick up the three teachers and they were brought to the mamlatdar’s office, on last Tuesday.
Confirming the action taken against 18 BLOs, Gujarat CEO Dr S Murali Krishna had said, “A report was sought on September 19 after the Election Commission of India learnt about such an action taken against the BLOs in Navsari district. The office submitted its report to the ECI on the same day. Necessary instructions have been issued to collectors and district election officers (DEOs) to ensure that action against such BLOs is consistent with the Conduct and Discipline Rules framed for Government Employees and only after proper study of legal provision.”
Another police team reached Gadat Primary school in search of teacher Geetaben Patel. However, Geetaben, along with another teacher Manisha Raman Patel from Undach Primary School, had gone to participate in a science fair at Vadsarang village.
At the fair, Gandevi BJP MLA Naresh Patel, stopped police from arresting the teachers. The teachers were asked to visit the mamlatdar office in the evening the same day.