Chennai: The Madras High Court on Monday came down hard on the Election Commission and called it “the most irresponsible institution” for the alleged spread of the second wave of Covid-19 in the country. The Madaras HC minced no words and pointed fingers at the poll body for allowing massive poll rallies and election campaigns to run days on end, without strictly enforcing COVID-19 protocols.
The visibly upset Madras HC bench went on to say that the institution was single-handedly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19 infections in the country. The cases in the country had dropped to less than 10,000 cases in February, going as low as 9,110 new infections on February 9, 2021 while deaths remained below 100 during that period.
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Madras HC slams Election Commission says EC is responsible for this second wave. EC officers should be booked for murder.
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On February 27, the Election Commission announced the polling dates for 5 Assemblies which were scheduled to be held between March 27 to April 29. The poll panel banned election campaigns like bike rallies 72 hours before voting, which marked the start of massive electioneering by political parties in the country after the model code became effective.
In its stinging remarks, the High Court said EC officials may be booked under murder charges too. The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy made the observation on a public interest writ, seeking for a direction to authorities to ensure fair counting of votes on May 2 in Karur by taking effective steps and proper arrangements with Covid-19 protocols.
Since as many as 77 candidates are contesting in the Karur constituency, it would be very difficult to accommodate their agents in the counting hall. It may affect observance of the protocols, the petitioner alleged.
When the counsel for the EC told the judges that all necessary steps were underway, the bench retorted that by allowing the political parties to take out rallies and meetings, it had paved the way for the resurgence of the second wave of Covid-19. The judges also orally warned that they would not hesitate to stop the counting of votes on May 2.
Visuals of the political gathering show tens and thousands of people, all in one place with or without masks in all five poll-bound states. These rallies saw leaders from all corners holding campaigns in many states and many times. The Election Commission on April 16, issued orders to cut down election campaign timings. Read more: EC cuts down campaign timings amid rising COVID-19 cases
(With inputs from PTI)