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COVID-19 Second Wave: Madras High Court holds EC responsible, says its officials may be booked for murder

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Madras high Court Election CommissionMadras high Court Election CommissionThe court was irked when the EC’s counsel submitted in the court that all necessary steps are being undertaken.

As India continues to report a record number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and a shortage of beds as well as Oxygen, the Madras High Court yesterday came down hard on the Election Commission for holding polls in the midst of such a grave crisis. The HC rapped the EC and held the institution singularly responsible for the COVID-19 spread. The court called it the “most irresponsible institution” saying that its officials may be booked on murder charges.

A bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy noted that the EC allowing political parties to hold public rallies had led to the rapid spread of the pandemic.

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The bench made the observations while hearing a public interest writ filed by Karur AIADMK candidate and Transport Minister M R Vijayabaskar who sought the court’s direction to EC to ensure fair vote-counting in Karur on May 2 by taking effective steps and proper arrangements following COVID-19 protocols. Vijayabaskar had alleged that since there are 77 candidates from the Karur constituency, it would be difficult to accommodate their agents in the counting hall.

The court was irked when the EC’s counsel submitted in the court that all necessary steps are being undertaken. The bench shot back saying that by allowing the political parties to hold rallies, the Commission had paved the way for the resurgence of the second COVID-19 wave.

The judges verbally warned that they would not hesitate to stop the counting of votes on May 2. The judges observed that public health is of paramount importance and it is distressing that constitutional authorities have to be reminded in such regard.

The court asked the EC to file a detailed report by April 30 on the blueprint of the Covid-19 protocol to be followed on the counting day. It asked the EC to consult the state Health Department while preparing the blueprint.

The assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry were held on April 6 while Assam voted in three phases and Bengal is voting in an eight-phase election.

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