The Madras High Court on Monday said that the Election Commission of India (ECI) is singularly responsible for spreading Covid-19 and murder charges should probably be imposed on it for its “irresponsible” behaviour.
Criticising the ECI for not stopping political parties from violating the Covid protocols, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said, “You (ECI) are the only institution responsible for the situation that we are in today.”
“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, asking whether the poll watchdog “was on another planet when poll rallies were held”.
Chief Justice Banerjee and Justice Ramamoorthy were hearing a petition filed by the state transport minister M R Vijayabhaskar seeking directions to the ECI to follow certain measures during the counting of votes on May 2 at his Karur constituency, where a total of 77 candidates had contested.
Reminding the counsel of ECI that it is all about “survival and protection” now and that “everything else comes next”, the court further said that it would issue orders to stop counting if ECI fails to prepare a blueprint before May 2 on how Covid protocols will be maintained during the process. This needs to be done to ensure that “this state does not succumb to your idiosyncrasies any further,” the HC said.
It added, “Politics or no politics, whether the counting takes place in a staggered manner or deferred…At no cost, the counting of votes on May 2 result in being a catalyst to a further surge. Public health is of paramount importance and it is distressing that constitutional authorities have to be reminded in such regard…”
The case will be heard next on April 30.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday demanded withdrawal of central forces to contain Covid spread in West Bengal in the next phase of polling, while welcoming the Madras High Court’s observations that the Election Commission could not avoid blame for the spread of Covid.
“I welcome the Madras High Court order, which clearly said the EC cannot escape its responsibility. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and EC are responsible for the (current) situation (of Covid spreading in the state),” Banerjee alleged at a workers’ meeting in North Kolkata where party candidates and workers were present.