Nagaland Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Abhijit Sinha has defended the action of Kohima deputy commissioner and district electoral officer Rajesh Soundararajan in serving show-cause notices to Nagaland University teachers with regard to their absence in the training for election duty.
Addressing a press conference in connection with the preparations for the by-election to the Nagaland parliamentary constituency in the conference hall of Nagaland commissioner’s office in Kohima on Saturday afternoon, the CEO said the teachers from Nagaland University had been on election duties in the past and that their deployment for the same was nothing illegal as per the People’s Representation Act 1951.
The DC issued show-cause notices to 13 university teachers on May 24 seeking their responses on the matter within a day.
He also said a total of 11, 97,436 voters were registered to vote in the election, adding there are 2196 polling stations out of which 550 stations will be covered by live web streaming and offline videography.
The two Nagaland University teachers’ unions – Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Associations (FEDCUTA) and Nagaland University Teachers Association (NUTA) – have taken strong exception to the show-cause notices issued to the university teachers by Kohima DC and Election Office for being absent from election duties.
The Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Associations in a statement termed the show-cause notices as “grossly unjust” since teachers under Central universities are exempted from election duties. It demanded immediate withdrawal of the show-cause notices to stop further harassment of the university teachers.
The NUTA said the threat issued by the DC on taking disciplinary action against the teachers for being absent for training on election duty was misinterpretation of Section 159 of Representation of People’s Act 1951. They reiterated that university teachers are not ”staff” to be clubbed along with clerks, office assistants, account officers, assistant registrars, deputy registrars and joint registrars whose services can be requisitioned.
It demanded that all the teachers of the university be exempted from election duty else they will demand re-poll in all polling stations where university teachers were deputed as presiding officers and re-poll in all constituencies where teachers are deputed as micro observers and recounting in polling stations where teachers are deputed as counting officers.