The ECI’s statement on compliance of COVID norms during the poll process

New Delhi, April 28:     On 26.4.2021,  petitioner  Vijaybhaskar  prayed before  Hon’ble High Court Madras “…to ensure  a  fair  counting  of  votes  which  is  scheduled to be held on 2.5.2021 at the 135- Karur  LA  Constituency  by taking  effective  steps and proper arrangements with COVID-19 protocol ..”,

Hon’ble Court’s Order after examining the submission of ECI, in its operative para, directed: “8. Similar appropriate measures have to be adopted at every  counting centre  and it is only upon maintaining regular  sanitization,  proper  hygienic  conditions.

Mandatory  wearing of mask and adherence to  the  distance  norms,  should  any  counting begin or be continued. The State Health Secretary and  the  Director  of  Public  Health should be consulted by the Election Commission  and the  Chief  Electoral  Officer  responsible in the State,  to put appropriate measures in place immediately.”

Thus, the statements being attributed to the Hon’ble High Court in certain sections of media do not find mention in the order finally passed. While  the  Commission  will comply  with  all directions of the HC, on 30.4.2021 it will apprise  all  steps  already  taken by the ECI for free, fair and safe election to the HC.

Similar anxieties concerning COVID-19 compliant  behaviour  during the  ongoing elections were  filed  by  different  petitioners,  which  had already been responded to by the ECI with following  legal  and  factual  positions.

Enforcement of COVID 19 measures is the responsibility assigned to the State Disaster Management Authority (like lockdown, restriction/curtailment on public gatherings etc.) and its Officers under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The State Disaster Management, Authority  didn’t stop  public  gatherings  under the  DM Act 2005 during this period. Whatever  was prescribed,  EC directed  all to adhere to it and in case of violation to book under  the DM Act 2005. EC continuously directed the State/District authorities to enforce the extant instructions of the NDMA/SDMA.

In 2020, amidst the NDMA/SDMA prescribed lockdown  and other enforcement measures under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Commission completed electoral exercise in Bihar.

The enforcement under 2005 Act has to be ensured by the concerned SDMA and notified authorities under the Act. The Commission has always  emphasised  in its 21.8.2020  and all subsequent instructions that the State authorities shall ensure of COVID compliance in the matter of public  gatherings  etc.  for  campaign  purposes. At no  occasion,  the Commission  takes over the  task of  SDMA for  enforcement of COVID-19 instructions.

It would be recalled that the Commission reiterated its instructions on 26.2.2021 while announcing, the poll in five States and UT  including  State of   Tamil Nadu.  The campaign ended on 4.4.2021. Fortunately, the second wave of COVID-19 was yet to be visible fully by that time.  Polling was  conducted  following  all prescribed  COVID appropriate measures on 6.4.2021,  which  witnessed  good electoral participation with full compliance of norms by all concerned.

These  submissions  were  made  to  different  High   Courts   (wherever  opportunity  was  afforded to the ECI ) and found favour in the orders of these Courts.Hon’ble High  Court Calcutta, taking all these legal frameworks in  view, on 23.4.2021 ordered.

“There is no way for any department or institution of governance to excuse itself from obeying the commands of the Election Commission  of India  and not  complying  and cooperating with the  Election Commission of India’s  directions.

This shall be taken as part of the  mandatory  command   of  this   Court  in   support  of   what  the  Election  Commission  is carrying forward.” On 26.4.2021,   High Court Madhya Pradesh dismissed a petition for issues concerning poll conducted on 6.4.2021 being infructuous.

In similar matter on COVID precautions during the  counting, Hon’ble High Court Kerala recorded the measures put in by the EC and directed the State to submit its measures on  27.4.2021. And on  27.4.2021,   Court in the  counting of  votes cases,  expressed that it is  satisfied  with the  steps taken  by ECI and  State Government and observed that there is nothing  more to  be added  in the  matters and accordingly closed all writ petitions.

The Commission has been regularly interacting with   State and UT Chief  Secretary and  Health  Secretary  concerned and the  Chief Electoral  Officers to ensure  that all COVID-19 measures   shall  be   ensured   at  all  counting   centres  without  exceptions  for  counting  on 2.5.2021. On 27.4.2021, the  Commission  has already  ordered   that:

No victory procession after the counting on 2.5.2021 shall be  permissible.  Not more than  two persons  shall be  allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his or her authorized representative receive  the certificate  of election from the Returning Officer concerned.

Tamil Nadu  State ordered lockdown  restrictions in  view  of  COVID  second   surge (assessment of this is in the domain  of NDMA/SDMA or concerned State Govt only) from 20 April 2021, 1 days after the  campaign period  was already over  in the State.




What Next?

Recent Articles

Leave a Reply

Submit Comment


Where to buy Vidalista Professional 20 Mg (Tadalafil) tablet