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Madras HC holds poll panel ‘singularly responsible’ for pandemic 2nd wave in TN

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on April 26, 2021

Says officials should be booked for ‘murder’ for not ensuring that Covid norms were followed

The Madras High Court on Monday came down heavily on the Election Commission of India (ECI) for not stopping political parties from conducting election rallies and held it “singularly responsible” for the Covid-19 second wave in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. It even went to the extent of saying that EC officials should be booked for ‘murder’.

“You have been the most irresponsible institution in the last few months,” Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee said. Despite the Court’s orders, the ECI did not ensure that Covid-19 protocol were followed during the campaigning. The Court warned of stopping the counting of votes on May 2 if a blueprint to follow the Covid-19 protocols was not in place, and on record before it on April 30.

The First Bench, in which Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy was also present, was hearing a writ petition filed by State Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar, a contestant from the Karur Assembly constituency, seeking a direction to the ECI to put in place stringent measures to ensure fair counting of votes.

“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. The situation now is of survival and protection. Everything else comes next,” the Chief Justice observed.

The Bench directed the ECI and the State’s Chief Electoral Officer to hold discussions with the Tamil Nadu Health Secretary to come up with the protocols. The matter will come up again on April 30 for a review when a complete picture on the steps taken will be clear, the Bench said.

 

 

Published on April 26, 2021

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