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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Car-pull on ballot eve
- Wary owners shield private vehicles from police on the prowl

Deepak Roy of Salt Lake has decided to keep his latest acquisition, a Bolero, under wraps for the next few days. He knows police are on the prowl and fears that his prized possession will not escape their eagle election eye.

Roy's claim to his sparkling vehicle is legitimate, but so is his fear. With Bengal going to the polls in another 48 hours, the hunt for 13,000 vehicles for poll duty has reached fever pitch.

The vehicles ' ranging from bus to luxury car ' will be used to ferry poll personnel, observers, paramilitary forces, state police, poll materials and other officials.

Around 60 per cent of the requirement list has been covered. If you fear your car could figure among the next 40 per cent, read on'

Can EC pick up any car'

According to Section 160 of the Representation of People's Act, 1951, the Election Commission (EC) can requisition any vehicle irrespective of its model and ownership (private or commercial) by giving proper compensation. If the requisitioned vehicle is 'not placed', the EC may take action against the owner.

Can you appeal'

A car owner may appeal for exemption to the EC, but it is solely up to the EC to grant it.

According to the EC's legal consultant S.K. Mendiratta, while any citizen's vehicle can be requisitioned for poll purposes if necessary, one can move court against the act.

A car-owner can move high court on the grounds that the requisition violates his/her fundamental right under Section 226 of the Indian Constitution.

Why private cars'

Private and commercial vehicles are picked as the number of government vehicles is inadequate.

Also, 'luxury cars', like the Qualis and Bolero, are easy picks from private owners.

Requisition procedure

Motor vehicle inspectors of the public vehicles department and police issue the requisition notices, signed by the district election officer, to vehicle-owners.

They can also courier notices to offices of travel agents, tour operators and car rental offices.

Officers-in-charge of all 12 traffic guards have been asked to 'collect' cars. Doctors, lawyers or those in the emergency services are being kept out of the poll car net.

For others, once the licence and the blue book are submitted, a printed EC form is handed out and a car is 'booked'.

A specific date is given, along with a reporting-to address (53, NS Road, Lalbazar, BBD Bag car park')

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