HC orders EC to pay market rate to requisite vehicle owners

The Gujarat High Court today ordered the Election Commission (EC) to pay remuneration at the market rate to the owners whose vehicles were requisitioned by it for the poll duty during the just concluded state Assembly elections.

The division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala today pronounced its verdict on the PIL which had challenged the EC action of on-the-spot requisitioning of private vehicles for poll duty.

The bench, while rejecting the rates proposed by the state government, directed the EC to reimburse vehicle owners, whose vehicles were requisitioned for the poll duty, at the locally prevailing market rates.

The court has also made it clear to EC that if it avails the services of driver/s with the vehicle it requisite then it will be the responsibility of EC, not of the vehicle owner, to pay salary to that driver for the time of duty.

Moreover, if the driver was asked to be on poll duty for more then eight hours in a day then EC would also have to pay over time to that driver.

The PIL was filed by Ashok Munishwar Giri through advocate Harshil Dholakia claiming that vehicles were being requisitioned by authorities 'in very unjust manner' for poll duty.

The PIL also expressed unhappiness over the remuneration being paid by the EC to the owner of the particular vehicles which were requisitioned and used for the poll work.

"People were asked to vacate their vehicles on the spot causing so much inconvenience. And moreover the remuneration offered by EC was totally unjust compared to the amount being spent on the vehicle by the owners," Dholakia had argued.

On December 18, advocate appearing for the EC had tendered an oral apology for the inconvenience caused to the owners of such vehicles and also requested direction from the court in regards to the remunerations.

The court today directed EC to strictly adhere to the guidelines stipulated for the requisitioning of the private vehicles for the poll duty and submit the compliance report within two months before the court.

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