Madras High Court pulled up the Election Commission of India for not stopping big election rallies. Chief Justice of Madras High Court Sanjib Banerjee went on to say that officials of the Election Commission (EC) should 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.
The election body had failed to enforce Covid safety rules like masks, sanitisers and distancing during campaigning despite court orders, said the High Court.
“Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held,” Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee questioned.
The High Court also asked for a plan to enforce Covid rules on May 2 – the day of the results – by Friday. Without it, the counting could also be stopped, said the High Court.
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Meanwhile, The High Court directed EC and Chief Election Officer of Tamil Nadu to draft COVID-19 protocol for the counting day in consultation with the Health Secretary and to submit the same by April 30.
The High Court was hearing a petition by Tamil Nadu Transport Minister MR Vijayabaskar seeking Covid compliance in counting halls in Karur constituency, from where he contested.
Covid cases have exploded alongside elections held in Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry. Today, India reported 3.52 lakh cases and 2,812 deaths in 24 hours, another grim record.
Shortly before the election body’s order, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that he was cancelling his campaign visit to Bengal the next day because of a Covid meeting. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who also restricted her campaign soon after, questioned why the Election Commission had waited till the PM’s announcement to impose Covid curbs on campaigning.