The Madras High Court has condemned the Election Commission of India for allowing political parties to carry on with rallies even as the country is battling Covid-19. The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy was hearing a petition raising concerns over whether adequate facilities are in place to ensure Covid-19 protocol during vote counting at the Karur constituency, where about 77 candidates are contesting the elections.
Justice Sanjib Banerjee said, "Election Commission officers should be booked on murder charges probably.” When the election commission’s counsel said that measures have been taken to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Chief Justice said, "Were you on another planet when political rallies were being held?"
"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'll be able to enjoy the rights that a democratic republic guarantees,” Chief Justice Banerjee told the Election Commission.
Tamil Nadu is one of the states that went to the polls on April 6 this year. The High Court also warned that it will stop counting on May 2, which is when the results are to be declared for elections in five states and one Union Territory if the Election Commission does not put in place a proper plan to ensure Covid-19 norms are followed.
"The situation now is of survival and protection. Everything else comes next,” the Chief Justice said.
The High Court has directed the Election Commission to hold a consultation with the State Health Secretary and place on record a plan to enforce Covid-19 protocol on counting day by April 30.
Tamil Nadu's single-day coronavirus cases tally crossed the 15,000 marks on Sunday, pushing the total case count to 10.81 lakh to date. As many as 82 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 13,557 so far, the health department said.
The state registered 15,659 fresh cases while recoveries mounted to 9,63,251 today with 11,065 patients being discharged, a bulletin said. Chennai continued to constitute the bulk of the total cases accounting for 4,206 new infections, totaling 3,09,899 to date. The metropolis also leads in the number of fatalities with 4,467 people succumbing to the virus.
Tamil Nadu on Sunday observed complete lockdown, the first during the current wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with the operation of only essential services and roads were deserted as people remained indoors.
With PTI inputs
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine