Kerala high court discards plea seeking lockdown on counting day
The Kerala high court on Tuesday disposed of a plea seeking the imposition of a statewide lockdown on May 2, the day assembly poll results are slated to be declared in five states and union territories, including Kerala. The court, while deposing of the plea, noted that the coronavirus disease (Covid-19)-related safeguard measures adopted by the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the state government for counting day are sufficient, and ordered for the same to be strictly followed.
The Election Commission has banned all victory processions in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry on May 2, the day votes are to be counted. The processions are usually carried out by political parties to commemorate electoral wins.
"In view of the surge in Covid-19 cases throughout the country, the Commission has decided to make more stringent provision to be followed during the process of counting ... No victory procession after the counting on May 2 shall be permissible," the EC said in an order released on Tuesday.
The decision to ban victory processions came a day after the Madras high court criticised the poll body as "the most irresponsible institution" for failing to implement proper Covid-19 guidelines during pre-poll campaigning. The high court bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy held EC officials "singularly responsible" for the second wave of the coronavirus disease, with Chief Justice Banerjee even remarking that the election officials should probably be "booked for murder".
The Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government has banned social, political, and religious gatherings until further notice. Officials on vote-counting duty need to either be fully vaccinated with both doses or carry a negative RT-PCR test report, not more than 72 hours old.
Kerala is currently one of the worst Covid-19 affected states in India. On Monday, the state clocked 21,890 new cases of Covid-19 and 28 deaths.