The Supreme Court said that Covid-19 can't be a ground to stop elections and refused to interfere with CEC's power to hold assembly elections in Bihar later this year.
The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to entertain a plea seeking directions to the Election Commission of India to defer the Assembly elections in Bihar in view of the coronavirus outbreak. The top court said that Covid-19 cannot be a ground to stop elections and refused to interfere with the CEC’s power to hold assembly elections in Bihar later this year.
“This court can’t tell CEC what to do. CEC will consider everything,” a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said.
The bench, also comprising Justices R S Reddy and M R Shah, said it is a premature petition as no notification for the assembly polls has been issued till now.
The petition in the top court was filed by Rajesh Kumar Jaiswal, a resident of Bihar. Jaiswal prayed the court for a direction to the ECI to not recommend the holding of polls in Bihar till the state is declared Covid-19 free and floods situation are brought under control. The petition argued that holding elections will jeopardise the interests of the people as well as affect their right to vote.
Assembly elections in Bihar are due in October-November later this year. Bihar is the only state where elections are to be held in 2020. The tenure of the Legislative Assembly expires on November 29.
The Constitution mandates the ECI to hold elections at any time within six months before the five-year term of the Assembly expires.
The Election Commission has already issued a slew of guidelines to be followed during the elections. The poll panel has allowed candidates to file nomination papers online. Besides, it has promised to ensure social distancing norms at polling booths and centres where election related work will be carried out.
The Supreme Court’s latest order is also a setback to opposition parties who have been demanding that the elections be deferred and the state put under President’s rule, if required. The BJP and JD(U) have, however, favoured holding elections on time.