After representing the public and working for their welfare, legislators deserve to be remembered with dignity when they pass away, but the state government has been left red-faced several times, after forgetful officials failed to inform the state legislature of the demise of former or sitting members of the House. To avoid such embarrassments, the state has now decreed that officials must keep track of political representatives and report any deaths to the state legislature office within 24 hours, or face strict action.

Protocol demands that when legislators — former or sitting — pass away, tribute must be paid to them on the first day of the next immediate session. But there have been several lapses in this custom after the authorities failed to report deaths. To avoid such situations, the parliamentary affairs department has issued a directive to officials — right from district collectors to police patils (honorary police officer in the villages) and talathi (the junior most revenue officer in the villages) — to keep track of deaths of political representatives.

This directive was necessitated after the legislators protested the lacklustre approach of government officials, and on Dec 7, Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde asked the government to inform his office about deaths within 24 hours. The one-day deadline will be imposed while the legislature is in session, but the period will be extended to three days off-session. The state legislature sits in session thrice – in summer and monsoon, as well as winter (in Nagpur).

Following the order, the state issued a notification on January 21. A senior official said, “The provision of 24 hours was there earlier as well, but officials were faltering in following it. Off session, the provision was 15 days, but this has been reduced to three days to keep officials on their toes.”

Neglecting this duty will result in action against the local officials, states the notice, which reads: ‘In case of the failure, the officials will face strict disciplinary action and the respective district collectors will be held responsible for any such failure.’

The government has made it mandatory for the district administration to depute a bureaucrat not lower than the rank of a tehsildar to visit the bereaved family and lay a wreath on the deceased leader to pay respect on behalf of the state.