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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Poll duty exemption under HC radar


Poll duty exemption under HC radar

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 14

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today made clear its intent to examine the rationale, if any, behind the Election Commission of India’s decision to exempt certain categories of employees from election duty, while assigning it to others.

The Bench of Justice Rajan Gupta was hearing a bunch of two petitions filed by the Punjab State Veterinary Inspectors Association and the Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association against the state and other respondents.

In one of the petitions, the petitioner’s counsel told Justice Gupta’s Bench that the association of veterinary inspectors was assigned election duty before the parliamentary polls. But, they were not inclined to do the same.

The counsel also referred to instructions issued by the Chief Election Commission of India before submitting that doctors and compounders working in the veterinary hospitals were exempted from the election duty. They submitted that certain categories of officials were, in fact, specifically exempted by the Election Commission from performing election duty in detailed guidelines issued by it.

Taking a note of the submissions in both petitions, Justice Gupta issued notice of motion to the state and other respondents. On the asking of the court, Punjab Assistant Advocate-General Ishneet Kaur accepted notice on behalf of the state.

Justice Gupta put a query to the state counsel on “the rationale, if any, adopted by the Election Commission for exempting certain categories particularly doctors and staff working in veterinary hospitals”.

The law officer submitted that she would seek instructions on the issues raised in the petition before assisting the Bench in the matter. She also submitted that she would address the Bench on the issue of granting exemptions as well. On her request, Justice Gupta set two-day deadline for further hearing.

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