Singularly responsible for COVID-19 second wave, officials should probably be booked for murder: Madras HC shreds EC
India has been struggling to contain the second wave of the coronavirus, with daily cases not only surpassing the 2020 highs, but more than tripling
The Madras High Court on Monday slammed the Election Commission for being 'singularly responsible' for the second wave of COVID-19 in India and remarked that its officers should probably be booked for murder.
"Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19. Your officers should be booked on murder charges probably," the Madras High Court told the Election Commission, as per Live Law.
The EC allowing political parties to take out rallies and meetings had led to the spread of the pandemic, the court said.
"Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held?", Chief Justice Banerjee asked, as per Live Law.
The court further warned it would not hesitate to stop the counting of votes on 2 May unless the EC put in place a blueprint of a plan to ensure COVID-19 protocols are followed.
"You have been singularly lacking any kind of exercise of authority. You have not taken measures against political parties holding rallies despite every order of this court saying ‘maintain COVID protocol, maintain COVID protocol’,” the court said, as per Indian Express.
"The situation now is of survival and protection. Everything else comes next", said Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee.
"Public health is paramount. Distressing that constitutional authorities ought to be reminded. It is only when a citizen survives that he'll be able to enjoy the rights that a democratic republic guarantees," the court said, as per NDTV.
India has been struggling to contain the second wave of the coronavirus, with daily cases not only surpassing the 2020 highs, but more than tripling. Across the country, bodies have been piling up in crematoriums and long queues of ambulances seen outside hospitals.
The impact of the pandemic is being felt not just in the metro cities, but also in smaller towns — with shortages being reported of beds and oxygen supplies.
The first bench of Chief Justice 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, as per PTI.
The court observed that the Commission had failed to enforce COVID-19 norms regarding wearing of facemasks, use of sanitisers and maintaining social distancing during the election campaign despite court orders, as per Live Law.
The case will be heard next on 30 April.
This comes just days after the Calcutta High Court expressed dissatisfaction with the Election Commission of India over enforcement of COVID-19 health safety norms during the ongoing West Bengal Assembly election polls, including campaigning, as per PTI.
In Bengal, where coronavirus cases are exploding and Assembly polls are being held in multiple phases, the EC on 22 April finally banned all roadshows, padayatras and rallies while restricting attendance in public meetings to a maximum of 500 people.
Though no other state has seen as exponential a rise in cases as Bengal, the COVID-19 situation is equally worrying in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam as well as the Union Territory of Puducherry — all of which have seen a spike in cases following campaigning for the Assembly polls.
In Tamil Nadu, the daily cases have jumped from 502 on 1 March to 15,659 on 26 April.
With inputs from PTI
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