By bappaditya paul
The Election Commission has doubled the amount of compensation payable in the event of any mishap caused to officials while performing poll duties. The revision comes after a gap of five years and will be effective from the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls scheduled to kick off in the country from 7 April.
The last time the amount of compensation was revised was in 2009 shortly before the Lok Sabha polls. The ex-gratia payment payable to the next of kin in the event of an official’s death due to accident or illness while on election duty was fixed to a minimum of Rs 5-lakh; in the event of the death being caused by any violent acts of extremists or antisocial elements, road mines, bomb blasts, armed attacks etcetera, the amount of compensation was fixed to Rs 10-lakh.
In case of permanent disability, like loss of limb, eyesight etcetera caused to an official on poll duty, the minimum slab for ex-gratia payment was fixed to Rs 2.5-lakh, with the amount automatically getting doubled if a disability was the result of some antisocial or terror acts. In an order issued on 25 March, the Election Commission has now doubled the compensation amount to Rs 10-lakh for an official’s death by accident or illness and Rs 20-lakh for death due to acts of terror or that of some antisocial element.
Similarly, the compensation for any disability has been raised to Rs 5-lakh if caused by usual type of mishap and Rs 10-lakh if caused by acts of terror or antisocial activities.
The order singed by the poll panel’s secretary Mr Sumit Mukherjee has been sent to the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) and the Chief Secretaries of all states for compliance.
West Bengal CEO Mr Sunil Kumar Gupta confirmed having received the order and said that his office would shortly avail the customary approval from the state Finance Department to effect the change. The compensation is applicable for any mishap caused during the entire period of duty during a polling. An official is treated to be on election duty as soon as she or he leaves her or his residence or office to report for any election related duty including training and till the time she or he reaches back to the residence or office after performing election duty.
Both civil and police personnel deployed on poll duty are eligible for the
compensation, sources informed.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 29 March 2014.)