The Madras High Court on Monday came down heavily on the Election Commission of India, holding the national poll body responsible for the latest wave of the pandemic. Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee even went to the extent of saying that the EC officers should be booked under murder charges for allowing big rallies during the assembly polls in five states.
The Madras High Court said, “Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19.” It asked, “Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held?”
The high court said that it would not allow the counting to go ahead on 2 May if the Election Commission fails to ensure that COVID-19 protocol is followed.
“Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19”, Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee tells Election Commission of India.#MadrasHighCourt #ElectionCommission
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) April 26, 2021
“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 court, according to Livelaw, said.
The Election Commission had allowed the assembly polls to be held in eight stages spread over 35 days in West Bengal, where the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to wreak havoc. Politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah were seen addressing election rallies and leading roadshows in defiance of COVID-19 protocol.
The Election Commission acted with disdain even when it was urged to combine the remaining stages of polling in a single-phase since scores had started dying due to COVID-19. Many believed that the Election Commission officials were more concerned to help the BJP than worry about the public safety at large. Experts are still wondering why a state like West Bengal needed to have assembly polls held over 35 days at a time when the danger of pandemic wasn’t over.