Supreme Court allows UP panchayat polls counting, no victory rallies permitted
The Supreme Court on Saturday allowed the Uttar Pradesh government and State Election Commission to go ahead with the counting of votes polled during the rural body elections in the state earlier in April, starting Sunday. The top court, however, said that no victory rallies shall be permitted during or after the counting of votes. It added that Class I gazetted officials will be responsible for adherence to Covid-19 protocols at each counting centre.
Amid concerns raised by the top court over the counting exercise during the distressing second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Uttar Pradesh government said that over five lakh local representatives, who will be elected after the result of panchayat polls is announced, will further help manage the crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The SEC, meanwhile, assured the court all Covid-related guidelines will be followed and no victory procession will be allowed. The UP government also agreed to not lift local curfews till the counting is completed at that particular counting centre. Government officials, candidates and their representatives will be allowed at a counting centre only after they present a Covid-19 negative report or vaccination certificate, it said. The top court has also directed SEC to preserve CCTV footage of the counting centres in till Allahabad High Court concludes hearing the pleas before it, according to news agency PTI.
A bench headed by justice AM Khanwilkar on Friday asked the state government and SEC about the arrangements for counting of votes in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was hearing the appeal filed by one Sachin Yadav challenging Allahabad High Court order allowing the panchayat elections to continue in the state.
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Friday slammed the government over the polls and demanded that the government provide financial support and a government job to dependents of employees who died due to coronavirus disease while on duty during the panchayat elections. "It would have been better if the government had postponed panchayat polls and extended its date due to the rising cases of coronavirus. It would have prevented a number of deaths of employees on election duty. It is very sad," she wrote on Twitter in Hindi.
Polling for the four-phased rural elections in Uttar Pradesh ended on April 29.