SC stays Madhya Pradesh HC order directing parties to hold virtual campaigns for 3 Nov bypolls

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar asked the EC to take an 'appropriate decision' with regard to political rallies as per law and COVID-19 guidelines

Press Trust of India October 26, 2020 18:26:51 IST
SC stays Madhya Pradesh HC order directing parties to hold virtual campaigns for 3 Nov bypolls

Representational image. News18

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Madhya Pradesh High Court order asking political parties to conduct their campaign for the 3 November Assembly bypolls virtually instead of holding physical rallies due to COVID-19.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) to take an appropriate decision with regard to political rallies as per law and keeping in mind COVID-19 guidelines.

The top court was hearing pleas of the EC and Madhya Pradesh energy minister Pradyuman Singh Tomar challenging the high court’s order of 20 October.

The top court also asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tomar, to make a representation to the ECI for loss of time in electioneering due to HC’s order.

The poll panel has assailed the HC order, saying the conduct and management of elections are overseen by it under the Constitution and Article 329 of the Constitution puts an express bar on judicial interference in midst of electoral process.

The plea said the poll panel's COVID-19 guidelines on election rallies or meetings were formulated on 25 September in exercise of its powers.

As per guidelines and the SOP of the state government, political gatherings of over 100 people with safety measures can be allowed, it said.

Tomar, who is contesting as a BJP candidate from Gwalior constituency for the bypoll in Madhya Pradesh, submitted in his plea that the high court has erred in its finding as the ECI under Article 324 of Constitution has issued its COVID-19 guidelines dated 29 September, permitting “physical gatherings” for election campaigns subject to specified restrictions.

Bypoll for 28 assembly seats in the state will be held on 3 November.

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