New Delhi: The Supreme Court yesterday issued notice to the central government and the Election Commission on a petition seeking that public sector officers should be treated at par with university teachers and permitted to contest elections.
The bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi issued notice on the plea of Indian Oil Officers Association (IOOAS) and the Confederation of Maharatna Company Officer (COMCO) that said service rules prohibiting them from contesting elections were arbitrary and conflicted with the constitutional provision.
The plea said professors serving in various universities are not only entitled to contest elections but there is also a provision for an extra-ordinary leave for them for fighting the polls.
There are several eminent professors who are currently serving in parliament, it said.
The plea said the rules prohibiting PSU officers from contesting elections were an affront to articles 14 (equality before law) and 19 (right to freedom of speech and expression) of the constitution.
It said the Service Rules of PSUs were against the basic fabric of a democratic set-up that gives the right to contest elections to all citizens in a participative democracy.
It also said prohibiting public sector officers from contesting elections would amount to keeping away a considerable chunk of educated people from governance.
The plea said there was no rationale in creating “a class within a class” as officers working with private companies faced no such issue.
“Both sets of officers are equally citizens having fundamental as well as statutory rights,” the plea said.