DC probes NEHU employees' eligibility to perform election duties
The Tura campus of the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU)

Tura: Questions have been raised by many sections of the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) after quite a few politically affiliated employees of the University were asked by the district administration of WGH to join election duty for the upcoming elections in February.

A retired faculty member questioned the unethical nature of what is being tasked to employees who have declared themselves as politically affiliated, asking whether that would not affect free and fair elections as mandated by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Central universities allow their faculty to engage in political affiliation and this is also the case with NEHU, which has not only had politically affiliated people but even MLAs who were given special provisions to continue both their teaching jobs as well as engage themselves as MLAs. The university however mandates that only one salary (MLA or the University) can be drawn while they are public representatives.

“It has come to light that several teaching faculty members of NEHU Tura Campus have been put on election duty. This happened despite the fact that NEHU teachers enjoy the privilege of joining a political party or expressing their politically coloured views,” said the retired NEHU official.

He further mentioned examples of NEHU teachers joining politics and political parties.

“Some notable faces are Prof B Pakem, Prof RC Laloo, Prof H Lamin, Dr J Mawthoh. From Tura campus too there is the example Late Jova Marak who contested the elections. This privilege is enjoyed not only by NEHU teachers alone but by the teachers of all Central universities in our country,” he added.

The former lecturer stated that it was sad that current district administration was unaware of this fact and of not taking note of it in spite of being told about the provision.

“This might create unnecessary reaction from different political parties. The administration should put only those teachers on duty who declare themselves to be politically unaligned,” he felt.

He further added that this was the first time such a complexity was taking place as earlier administrations understood the situation and took those that are politically affiliated off election duty to ensure there were no questions from any quarters on unfair practises.

Replying to the situation, deputy commissioner of WGH, Swapinil Tembe stated that the matter is currently under investigation and more information would be available after review.

“We are examining the conduct rules applicable to them. As per central and state service rules, no government employee can take membership of a political party. We will examine the case and take a call after,” informed the DC.

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