EC officials should probably be booked for murder: Madras high court on poll rallies amid Covid-19
The Madras High Court on Monday slammed the Election Commission of India for allowing political rallies to be conducted amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in the country. The court said that the poll body is to be held "singularly responsible" for the Covid-19 second wave, with which the country is currently struggling. Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee even went to the extent of noting that Election Commission officials should probably be "booked on murder charges" for allowing political rallies during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first bench of Chief Justice Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, at the Madras High Court, made these scathing remarks while hearing a petition on facilities to ensure that Covid-19 safety norms are followed during voting in Tamil Nadu's Karur constituency.
"Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held?" the Chief Justice asked the ECI counsel, in view of the rising Covid-19 cases. The bench noted that despite court orders, the Election Commission had failed to enforce Covid-appropriate protocols during the poll rallies conducted by several political parties. Face masks or sanitizers weren't used, nor was social distance maintained during election campaigning, the court observed.
The Madras High Court directed the Election Commission to submit before it by April 30 a blueprint of a plan to ensure Covid-19 protocols are followed on May 2, the day when votes are counted. The Election Commission and Tamil Nadu's chief electoral officer Thiru. Satyabrata Sahoo should hold consultations with the health secretary to come up with the blueprint on the stipulated date. Failing to do so will result in the court stopping the counting of votes scheduled on May 2, the bench warned, adding that "the situation now is of survival and protection, everything else comes next."
Tamil Nadu on Sunday observed a complete lockdown, the first during the current wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with the operation of only essential services and roads were deserted as people remained indoors.