The Gujarat High Court has refused to grant a stay on an order of the State Election Commission (SEC) asking the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) employees to join election duty for the upcoming civic body polls.
The high court ruled out a proposal of the LIC to avail 20% of the total staff for election duty in six cities stating that only one day is left now. “If we grant any relief at this point, the entire arrangement or set up of the Commission would get seriously disrupted. Such disruption
would ultimately lead to a lot of difficulties in completing the election process smoothly,” the court said.
The court has admitted the matter which is now likely to be heard in April.
The LIC employees were asked to report for election duty on February 21, 22, and 13, while for the second phase of the election they were called for election duty on February 29 and March 1 & 2.
Why LIC and other staff are needed
An affidavit submitted by the SEC stated that if services of central government employees are not availed for election duty then there will be an acute shortage of staff. It further said this will make it very difficult to hold a smooth election given the prevailing COVID situation and the vaccination drive.
Given the pandemic, the SEC needs more people to conduct the election following the strict norms to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and therefore, services of the employees of various banks, central government departments, and LIC have been sought, affidavit said.
The COVID vaccination drive is also going on in full swing and many state government employees are already occupied with it, the affidavit said.
What LIC staff had argued
The advocate representing LIC told Gujarat Exclusive that the employees are statutory corporation employees and they can’t be called for election duty for civic body elections in the state.
The SEC doesn’t have powers to call LIC employees for election duty for civic body elections. LIC employees are not state government employees but employees of a statutory corporation, the advocate said
The SEC said there are 62,407 polling booths for civic polls in the state. 4.19 crore people are likely to cast their vote and for this, the SEC requires 2.85 lakh polling staff at various levels.
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