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EC should be booked on murder charges for negligence: Madras High Court

The Madras High Court came down heavily on the Election Commission of India on Monday for allowing political rallies during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
A visibly upset Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee told the Election Commission's counsel “Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19”. The Chief Justice went to the extent of orally saying “Your officers should be booked on murder charges probably.”
 
The Chief Justice observed that the Commission had failed to enforce COVID norms regarding wearing of facemasks, use of sanitizers and maintaining social distancing during election campaigning, despite court orders. “Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held?,” Chief Justice asked the ECI counsel.
 
The Court warned that it will stop the counting scheduled on May 2nd if the ECI does not put in place a blueprint of a plan to ensure following of COVID protocol on the counting day. 
 
“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 Chief Justice added.
 
“The situation now is of survival and protection. Everything else comes next", the Chief Justice said. The bench, also comprising Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, directed the Election Commission of India and the Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer to hold consultations with the Health Secretary and come up with a COVID action plan on the counting day. 
 
The bench directed that the blueprint must be placed on record before it on April 30. “The matter will appear on April 30 to review the situation when a complete picture as to adequate steps having been taken will be clear,” the bench said in the order.
 
Following the verdict and the High Court shredding the ECI, citizens across the country have welcomed the court’s response to the Election Commission’s gross negligence of choosing to go ahead with conducting the elections, without a care for the spread of the virus. 
 
It remains to be seen how the Modi government will react to this statement of the Madras High Court. Many, however, are commenting that the BJP government at the Centre may do damage control in repairing its image than to do anything in the current COVID Emergency India is facing right now!

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