Election Commission moves Supreme Court against Madras HC observations on surge in COVID-19 cases

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Updated: May 01, 2021 10:25 PM

The Madras High Court had observed that the responsible EC officials should probably be tried on murder charges for their failure to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols during the election process in four states ana a Union Territory.

election commissionThe poll panel’s appeal against the high court’s refusal to entertain its petition will be heard by a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud

The Election Commission (EC) moved the Supreme Court on Saturday, challenging the critical observations made by the Madras High Court holding it responsible for a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, saying the remarks were “uncalled for, blatant and disparaging”.

A bench of justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah would hear the appeal of the poll panel against the orders of the high court on Monday.

The high court had, on April 26, castigated the EC for the surge in COVID-19 cases during the second wave of the pandemic, holding it “singularly” responsible for the spread of the viral disease, called it the “the most irresponsible institution” and even said its officials may be booked under murder charges.

The poll panel allowing political parties to take out rallies and organise meetings had led to the surge in COVID cases, the court had observed.

The EC’s appeal against these remarks was trashed by the division bench of the high court on April 30, leading the poll watchdog to approach the top court.

“We have filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court orders,” EC’s counsel Amit Sharma told PTI.

The EC, in its appeal in the apex court, said the high court’s remarks were “uncalled for, blatantly disparaging and derogatory”.

The division bench of the high court, on April 26, made the stinging observation on a plea moved by Tamil Nadu’s Transport Minister M R Vijayabaskar, who was the AIADMK candidate from Karur in the April 6 Assembly polls, seeking a direction to the authorities concerned to ensure a fair counting of votes on May 2 in his constituency by taking effective steps and ensuring proper arrangements while following the COVID-19 protocols.

Since a total of 77 candidates were in fray in Karur, it would be very difficult to accommodate their agents in the counting hall. It may affect the observance of the protocols, the petitioner had alleged.

When the EC’s counsel told the judges that all necessary steps were being taken, the bench shot back, saying by allowing the political parties to take out rallies and organise meetings, it (commission) had paved the way for a resurgence of the deadly virus.

Irked over the submission made by the EC’s counsel that all precautionary measures would be taken at the counting centres, the chief justice replied that the poll panel must be “singularly” held responsible for the sudden surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the country.

The bench had even said that EC officials may be booked under murder charges.

“Public health is of paramount importance and it is distressing that constitutional authorities have to be reminded in such regard. It is only when a citizen survives that he will be able to enjoy the rights that a democratic

republic guarantees,” the bench had said.

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