The Election Commission of India (EC) on Tuesday made a statement before the Bombay High Court that it would not take coercive steps against teachers of unaided schools who refused to work on election duty.
The statement was made in response to a petition filed by Unaided Schools Forum seeking directions to EC not to force teachers of private unaided schools and minority institutions to do election duty.
A bench of Justice V M Kanade asked Election Commission to file a reply on April 10.
The petition contended that the EC had declared the election schedule on March 5 but the Forum had written to the State Election Commission on January 11 itself, relying on a Supreme Court (SC) judgment which barred teachers from doing non-education duty.
However, some institutions in the city such as the Chembur-based General Education Academy and Children's Academy were asked to furnish details of their teaching staff for election duty.
The schools replied to EC stating that since they were permanent unaided schools and examinations were being conducted by them, their staff would not be available for election duty.
However, the Commission told the schools that they had delayed in submitting the sought information and thus they should show cause as to why action under section 134 of the Representation of People Act not be invoked.
The petition argued that in view of the Supreme Court judgment in the TMA Pai Foundation case, the Commission cannot force teachers of unaided schools to do election duty.
The petition prayed for directions to the EC not to make requisition and depute teachers of private unaided schools for the purpose of election duty and refrain from taking any coercive action against the management of schools.
The petition further argued that the teachers of unaided schools were not covered under section 134 of the said Act.
It pleaded that only the teachers of government aided schools were governed by the provisions of the Act and they could be drawn for election duty.