February 20, 2021 3:55:55 am
A division bench of the Gujarat High Court refused to grant any interim relief to Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) employees who have been called for election duties for the local bodies of Gujarat while considering the State Election Commission’s submission that there is an “acute shortage of staff” with government employees also involved in Covid-19 vaccination drive.
The order dated February 18, and made public on Friday, pronounced by the division bench of Justices J B Pardiwala and Ilesh Vora, stated, “The legal formulations cannot be enforced divorced from the realities of the fact situation of the case. While administering it is to be tempered with equity and if the equitable situation demands after setting right the legal formulations not to take it to the logical end, the high court would be failing in its duty if it does not notice the equitable considerations and mould the final order in exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction. Any other approach would render the high court a normal court of appeal, which it is not.”
More than 1,400 LIC employees, serving at the organisation’s Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Jamnagar offices, were asked to render their services in the upcoming elections to the six municipal corporations on February 21 and in the panchayat and municipality elections, scheduled for February 28.
The employees’ services have been sought from February 20 to 22 and February 28 to March 2.
The LIC employees had submitted that the SEC has no jurisdiction to requisition them for state local body polls. Over the course of hearing, the employees had proposed that LIC is “ready and willing to make available its employees for rendering the services in the elections, but only to the extent of 20 per cent of the total staff at each of the six cities”.
The division bench, however, found this proposal not only “quite unreasonable,” but also “to a certain extent, in the nature of dictating terms”.
The SEC also submitted that it is in “acute shortage of staff for the purpose of conducting the elections”.
“Only one day is left now, ie, February 19, 2021. If we grant any relief at this point of time, 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 bench said. while refusing to grant interim relief of exempting the LIC employees from election duty.
However, the court admitted the petition and will adjudicate on the question of law and jurisdiction for such deputation.
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