The court dismissed the petition on several grounds, including that students had no locus standi in the matter and academic session was not to be affected in any way.
The petitioners had cited an Election Commission’s letter to all chief secretaries of states on February 16, 2010, to rope in teaching staff for polling duty only under unavoidable circumstances. They also apprised the court of Uttar Pradesh chief secretary’s letter on March 8, 2019 with instructions for exempting teaching and non-teaching staff from election duty to maintain academic session.
Counsel Hemant Kumar Jha appeared for the petitioners while Siddhartha Prasad represented the Election Commission of India.
Advocate general Lalit Kishore, who appeared for the state government, submitted that there were no examination scheduled in April and polling duty by the petitioners would not affect the academic session. He also submitted that teachers in question are scheduled to take part in the fourth phase of polling on April 29, which would be a holiday preceded by Sunday.
Prasad submitted that the district election officers have power vested in them under The Representation of the People Act, 1951, to rope in teachers for polling and other related duties.
The office of Chief Electoral Officer of Bihar also submitted a counter affidavit that requirements of polling and counting personnel have gone up phenomenally over the past few years due to voter assistance and mandatory VVPAT with every EVM and the Supreme Court’s direction for counting more paper audit trails.