Mumbai: No Election Duty For Charity Commission Staff, ECI Tells HC

Mumbai: No Election Duty For Charity Commission Staff, ECI Tells HC

Advocate RD Soni for the bar association said that the ECI should also withdraw the orders issued to staff asking them to come for election duty.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, March 06, 2024, 08:18 AM IST
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ECI | Photo: Representative Image

Mumbai: The Election Commission of India (ECI) informed the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that it shall withdraw the notifications by which it had requisitioned staff of the Charity Commission for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The high court, on March 1, had stayed the order passed by the ECI requisitioning officers and staff of the Charity Commission for election duty noting that the duty performed by the office of the Charity Commission is judicial in nature and its functioning will come to a halt, affecting the public interest at large.

Requisition Of Charity Commissioner Staff For Election Duty

A bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor was hearing two petitions, one by the Charity Commissioner (CC) and the other by Mumbai Charity Advocates Bar Association, challenging various circulars and orders that requisitioned the commission’s staff for forthcoming parliamentary election duty with a warning of criminal action for non-compliance. The staff includes five judicial clerks assigned with daily quasi-judicial proceedings before the CC and Joint CC.

Court Proceedings Over The Matter

Advocate Pradeep Rajgopal, appearing for ECI, informed the court that the election commission has decided to withdraw the notifications issued by it calling for the charity commission staff for the election duty.

Advocate RD Soni for the bar association said that the ECI should also withdraw the orders issued to staff asking them to come for election duty. 

Rajgopal initially said that since the notifications were being withdrawn, there would be no need to withdraw the orders. 

Court Directs ECI To Justify Requisition Orders

The bench, however, remarked that even the orders  will have to be withdrawn to release the staff from performing election duty. To which, Rajgopal agreed. 

While staying the ECI notification, has asked ECI to show if it undertook any exercise before passing orders requisitioning persons for election duty. 

The direction was issued after the advocate for the bar association pointed out that most of the time when it’s staff is called for duty, they do not have much work to do. “My staff goes there, has a cup of tea and comes back,” advocate RD Soni said. 

Legal Authority For Requisition Orders Under Scrutiny

Also, the orders were passed by electoral registration officer/ collector requisitioning officers. As per the provisions of the The Representation of the People Act, 1951, only the regional commissioner or chief electoral officer of the state, who is empowered to requisition such staff as may be necessary, is entitled to requisition staff for election duty.

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