EC statement on compliance of COVID norms in elections in light of Madras HC observations and order
New Delhi, Apr 27: The Madras High court on Tuesday directed that 'similar appropriate measures have to be adopted at every counting centre and it is only upon maintaining regular sanitization, proper hygienic conditions, mandatory wearing of mask and adherence to the distance norms, should any counting begin or be continued.
''The State Health Secretary and the Director of Public Health should be consulted by the Election Commission and the Chief Electoral Officer responsible in the State, to put appropriate measures in place immediately,'' the bench directed.
''While the Commission will comply with all directions of the HC, it will apprise all steps already taken by the ECI for free, fair and safe election to the HC,'' the court said.
Similar anxieties concerning COVID-19 compliant behaviour during the ongoing elections were filed by different petitioners, which had already been responded to by the ECI with following legal and factual positions.
The Election Commission also banned all victory processions after counting of votes in states where assembly polls were held to check the spread of coronavirus.
"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," an order issued by the poll body to chief electoral officers of all states and UTs said.
The decision to ban victory processions came a day after the Madras High Court came down heavily on the poll panel for failing to implement COVID guidelines during campaigning.
Lambasting the Election Commission for failure to maintain Covid protocol during poll campaigns, the Madras high court on Monday said that the ECI was responsible for the second wave in the country and that its officials should probably be tried on murder charges for allowing political parties to hold massive rallies without following Covid-19 norms.
The Court warned that it will stop the counting on May 2 if the EC doesn't put in place a blueprint of a plan to ensure following of COVID-19 protocol on the counting day. "Public health is of paramount and it is distressing that Constitutional authorities have to be reminded in such regards. It's only when a citizen survives that he'll be able to enjoy the rights that a democratic republic guarantees", CJ added.
The election commission has come under criticism for its decision to allow political parties to wilfully flout Covid-19 protocol through huge rallies, with most participants, including the political leaders unmasked.