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EC lodges complaint against IT firms for working on polling day

EC lodges complaint against IT firms for working on polling day

EC took action after complaints from employees that they had been asked to report for duty despite the provision for a holiday as per the law.

Chennai: Some of the top IT companies and IT enabled services companies in Tamil Nadu are facing charges under the Representation of People's Act and the archaic Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishments Act for not declaring a paid holiday on the voting day.

According to state labour department officials IT majors like Tech Mahindra, HCL Tech, Wipro, TCS and Barclays India (call centre/IT enabled services) will be charged with the violation of Tamil Nadu shops and establishments Act. They will also be booked under the Representation of People's Act.

Perhaps, Tamil Nadu is the only state in India, where IT companies and roadside grocery shops come under the same Tamil Nadu shops and establishments Act. In neighbouring Karnataka, AP and Kerala, state governments have given exemption to IT companies from the act. They have recognized that these IT companies are global companies and they can't be governed by the laws made for local establishments.

According to labour department, these companies were working on Thursday, the day of the voting across Tamil Nadu. Some reports in the local media claim that the labour department forced them to close operations and the premises of some of these companies were 'sealed' for violating the rule.

"Separate cases have been filed under Section 135B of the Representation of People's Act against the companies" said state's chief electoral officer Praveen Kumar. The Election Commission says since most of the IT employees are bona fide voters, these companies are duty bound to grant them a paid holiday by closing their offices on all voting days.

More than 60 years old Act gives exemption only to the newspapers. The Act says, "The provisions of the Bill will come into force in the first instance in the City of Madras and in all municipalities on a day to be fixed by the Government for this purpose.

Power has also been taken by the Government to bring the provisions into force in other areas, when necessary. The Bill will apply to persons employed in shops, commercial firms, restaurants, theatres, etc., but will not apply to certain establishments and persons under the Central or Provincial Government etc. Chapter II and III of the Bill enable the Government to fix the opening and closing hours of shops, commercial firms, restaurants, etc. The sale of goods other than newspapers in or adjacent to a street or public places after the closing hour fixed for shops in that locality has been prohibited."

The IT companies are demanding that Tamil Nadu government must amend the old Act to give exemption to them from the Act like neighbouring states.