When it comes to election duty in Gujarat, a heart ailment can wait. Or let us put it this way: if you are eligible for election duty and you fall sick, you can be arrested.
This is exactly what happened to the Ahmedabad-based Income-Tax officer Umesh Pathak, who along with seven others was issued arrest warrants at the behest of the Election Commission (EC) for failing to report to poll duty. The EC, and officers from Vadaj Police Station in Ahmedabad took no note of the fact that Pathak had applied for a sick leave a long time ago, and that he had undergone a heart surgery.
BIZZARE TURN OF EVENTS
This could have been a scene from Priyadarshan’s comedy movie. Pathak was allotted duty in Maninagar in Ahmedabad and the training session for the same was scheduled on November 25. Due to poor health, he could not attend the training session and the Election Commission considered this as ‘an act of not abiding by the law and disrespecting the duty’ assigned to him. The commission demanded a written explanation from the Income-Tax Department.
Pathak had filed a leave application on November 16, intimating the reason for submitting the application belatedly due to a medical emergency.
The Election Commission didn’t bother checking with the Gujarat Income-Tax Department about Pathak’s condition or verifying his leave application. It in fact clubbed him along with tax assistants and stenographers, identified as Kamini Meena, Pankaj Panariya, Anu Makkar, Beena Devi, Parag Patel, Umesh Patek, Naresh Shah and Nitish Kumar, as those who played truant and filed a complaint at Vadaj Police Station.
The EC demanded that all eight be brought to its office. After the arrest warrants were issued, the seven joined the poll duty. Meanwhile, Pathak’s bosses at the Gujarat Income-Tax Department threw their weight behind him and told the Election Commission that he had recently undergone surgery for coronary artery bypass grafting at Apex Heart Institute in Ahmedabad. The copies of the operation documents were submitted to the Election Commission.
The Income-Tax Department told the Election Commission that Pathak be exempted from election duties due to his surgery. Gujarat’s chief Income-Tax officer wrote in his note to the Election Commission, “No further action may be taken against Umesh Pathak, ITO, Ward-1(E), Ahmedabad, in persuasion of a warrant issued and also to exempt him from his election duties in view of his heart surgery and hospitalisation.”
Senior Gujarat Income-Tax officials said that Pathak has extensively contributed to developing the sports wing of Income-Tax, Gujarat. “He has not only encouraged the officers to take up sports, but also became a catalyst in reviving and maintaining the sports cell of the I-T department,” a senior official said. The department emphasised considering the request “sympathetically and exempt Pathak from election duty at an early date, so that his leaves can be regularised,” the official said.
Joint Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat, AB Patel, told Vibes of India, “A representation regarding Pathak’s health has been received by the Ahmedabad Additional Collector. He is exempted from election duty considering his health and performance issues. No action will be taken against Umesh Pathak.”
Also read: https://www.vibesofindia.com/income-tax-dept-detects-over-400-crores-of-unaccounted-income-from-anant-tannas-khavda-group/