Pay market rate for vehicle requisitions: Court to EC

The court ruled that if EC avails services of driver with the vehicle it requisites then it will be EC's responsibility, not of the vehicle owner, to pay salary to that driver for the time of duty

In a relief to the owners whose vehicles were requisitioned by the Election Commission for the recently concluded Assembly polls, the Gujarat High Court Friday ordered the panel and the state government to pay them remuneration at the market rate.

The ruling by a division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala came on a PIL that had challenged the EC's action of on-the-spot requisition of private vehicles for poll duty.

Rejecting the rates proposed by the government, the bench ordered the commission to reimburse the owners as per the prevailing market rates.

The court ruled that if the EC avails the services of drivers with the vehicle it requisite then it will be the responsibility of the EC, not of the vehicle owner, to pay salary to that driver for the time of duty. The court further directed the commission to pay the drivers for working overtime if their duty time exceeded eight hours.

One Ashok Munishwar Giri had filed the PIL, which claimed that the way vehicles were requisitioned and the payment made by the government agencies for conducting elections was improper.

After the petition was filed, the EC had sought direction from the court for remunerations to be paid to the vehicle owners.

At present, the government pays remuneration on the basis of the worth of the vehicle. For example, for a car worth Rs 4 lakh, the government would give only Rs 493.

Advocate Harshil Dholkia, who appeared for Giri, said the court also directed that in the process of requisition, the EC should follow its guidelines strictly. "The court has directed the government to come up with a revised remuneration within two months," he said.

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