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Death Of Election Duty Staff Due To Covid-19: Allahabad High Court Seeks CCTV Footage Of Counting Areas

Akshita Saxena
5 May 2021 4:04 AM GMT
COVID-19- Enough To Spend On Elections, Very Little For Public Health, People Governing To Be Blamed For Health Problems: Allahabad HC Imposes Lockdown In 5 Cities Till April 26

In order to assess the culpability of Election Commission with respect to 135 people who succumbed to Covid-19 virus days after performing election duties in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday sought CCTV footage of the designated counting areas.

"We make it clear that any slackness on the part of the Election Commission on this issue will not be tolerated," a Division Bench comprising of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar observed.

It directed the State Election Commission to produce before it the CCTV footage of the designated counting areas and centres both in the form of footage print and also Pen Drive by the next date fixed.

In its previous order, the Court had taken Judicial notice of death of 135 Teachers, Shiksha Mitras and Investigators, who were posted on election duty during the recent phases of Panchayat elections in the State.

Allahabad High Court Issues Show Cause Notice To State Election Commission Over Death Of 135 Panchayat Election Duty Staff Due To Covid19

It had asked the Commission to explain as to why it failed in checking non-compliance of Covid guidelines during various phases of the panchayat elections.

Today, the Court noted that except from seeking a verification from the District Magistrates/ District Election Officers of all the districts regarding the correctness of the news item of which judicial notice was taken, nothing more was done by the Commission.

Taking exception to this, the Court said,

"We have been informed that even during the counting of polls of Gram Panchayal Elections of the State that had taken place on 29th April, 2021 and onwards, the Covid protocol and guidelines were definitely flouted. People gathered in huge numbers at the counting centres and both the Election Officers and Police administration had completely failed to ensure the compliance of Covid guidelines."

The Court then proceeded to note that the State Election Commission had given an undertaking before the Supreme Court that counting will be supervised through CCTV cameras to be installed at the designated counting centres.

The Commission had assured the Top Court that those who were in charge of the counting centres would be held responsible for any lapse regarding compliance of Covid19 guidelines.

Accordingly, the Division Bench ordered,

"We direct the State Election Commission to produce before us the CCTV footage of the designated counting areas and centres both in the form the footage print and also Pen Drive by the next date fixed, in the first instance relating District Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Gautambudh Nagar and Agra."

The Court has made it clear that if the Commission itself finds from the CCTV footage that there has been violation of the Covid- 19 protocol and guidelines, it should come up with action plan in that regard.

Also happened during the hearing:

Case Title: In-Re Inhuman Condition At Quarantine Centres…

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