Bombay High Court asks EC to clarify its stand on election duty of anganwadi workers

Mumbai: The Election Commission of India (ECI) was on Monday asked to clarify its stand on the poll duties assigned to anganwadi workers across Maharashtra.

The Bombay High Court has directed the ECI to file an affidavit explaining the provision under which it ordered anganwadi workers to perform election duties. A bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Manoj Sanklecha has asked ECI counsel Pradeep Rajagopal to file the affidavit by Tuesday.

The bench was seized with a petition filed by around 3,500 anganwadi workers through their counsel Kranti LC. These workers have challenged an April 12 order of the State Election Commission (SEC) asking them to perform several poll tasks.

They have claimed, the SEC has warned them of stern action, like filing an FIR against them, if they fail to report to work. The workers, have relied upon a 2010 notification, issued by the Union government, by which anganwadi workers were exempted from performing election duties.

By virtue of this notification, several other public servants, including officers of the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) were protected from performing poll duties. To further defend themselves, the workers cited the February 2019 manual of the ECI. “In its own manual, the ECI has exempted anganwadi workers from poll duties,” advocate Kranti submitted.

At this, ECI counsel Rajagopal maintained it was not necessary for the ECI to follow its own manual. Irked over the submission, the bench sought to know if the ECI would issue a further order to CBI officers to report to poll duties. The bench accordingly posted the matter for further hearing on Tuesday.

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