Coming down heavily on the Election Commission (EC) by calling it as the 'the most irresponsible institution in the country', the Madras High Court on Monday said that officials of EC should be tried for murder charges for their failure to stop abuse of COVID protocol in political rallies thereby contributing to the pandemic.
While hearing a plea moved by state transport minister MR Vijayabhaskhar, the bench of chief justice Sanjib Banerjee and justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, said, "You (EC) are the only institution responsible for the situation we are in today and you have been singularly lacking any kind of exercise of authority. You have not taken measures against political parties holding rallies despite the court saying "Maintain Covid protocol, maintain Covid protocol."
It says, "Were you on another planet when political rallies were being held? Despite repeated orders of this court going on like a broken record at the foot of at least every election petition entertained that COVID protocol ought to be maintaining during the campaign time the significance of adhering to such protocol may have been lost on the Election Commission going by the puerile silence on the part of the Commission as campaigns and rallies were conducted without distancing norms being maintained and in wanton disregard of the other items of the protocol."
"We assure you that we will stop counting if we do not find before 2nd May a blueprint on how proper maintenance of Covid protocol is assured so that this state does not succumb to the idiosyncrasies any further," the bench observed.
The chief justice also observed that public health is of paramount importance and that it was distressing to remind constitutional authorities on the counting and possibilities of a further surge after 2nd May.
"...appropriate measures have to be adopted at every counting centre and it is upon...regular sanitisation, proper hygienic conditions, the mandatory wearing of masks and adherence to distancing norms should any counting begin or be continued," the bench said in its order.
The Tamil Nadu state transport minister had petitioned the court seeking direction to the EC, to follow a slew of measures in ensuring fairness during the counting of votes on 2nd May for Karur constituency where he had contested the elections as an AIADMK candidate. There were 77 candidates in fray at Karur constituency.
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