Chennai: The Madras High Court on Monday came down heavily on the Election Commission of India (ECI) for not banning political rallies and ‘singularly’ blamed the ECI for the second wave of COVID-19 in the county.
The Court also warned that it would be forced to stay the counting process on May two if strict COVID-19 protocol was not devised by the ECI. On a petition filed by Transport Minister M R Vijayabhaskar seeking a direction to the ECI to strictly adhere to the safety measures and ensure fair counting, the First Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy slammed the ECI for not stopping political parties that were deliberately abusing the Covid-19 protocol during their political rallies in the run up to the single phase Assembly elections held on April six.
The Bench observed that “at no cost can counting result in a catalyst for a further surge, politics or no politics, whether the counting takes place in a staggered manner or is deferred.”
In an oral observation, the Bench asked “Were you on another planet when political rallies were being held?”
“Election Commission Officers should probably be booked on murder charges,” the bench said.
“Public health is of paramount importance and it is distressing that constitutional authorities have to be reminded in such regard. It is only when a citizen survives that he will be able to enjoy the rights that a democratic republic guarantees,” the Chief Justice noted.
However, the ECI contended that necessary safety measures have been put in place. Observing that the situation now is of survival and protection, the bench directed the ECI to file a detailed report by April 30 on the blueprint of Covid-19 protocol for the counting day after a detailed consultation with the Health Department Secretary.