A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh of the Delhi High Court has issued notice to and sought replies from the Centre and the Election Commission on a plea for all poll-bound states - namely, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal - and the Union Territory of Puducherry to ensure masks are mandatorily worn during all poll campaigns.
The plea which points out that while fines are being collected from the general public, but no action is being taken on politicians, has been filed by the former Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Vikram Singh, who is also the Chairperson at the think-tank Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change.
The plea also seeks direction to the EC, inter alia, to prominently publish its August 2020 Guidelines for the conduct of general elections/bye-elections during Covid-19", on its website, mobile apps, all election material and other platforms, with the aim of creating awareness with respect to precautions against Covid-19. The publication and dissemination of information through various media for mandatory Covid-19 protocol has been primarily emphasized upon in the plea.
Expressing concern over the surge in Covid-19 cases and the potential impact on the same of ongoing assembly elections, the bench said that it must be ensured that masks are worn during poll campaigning as nearly five phases of elections are still pending in West Bengal.
The plea states that, "... before the end of the first phase of campaigning in Assam and West Bengal, over 40 road shows and rallies had been organised by major political parties."
It added, "At the same time, 59,117 fresh cases of Covid-19 were recorded in India on 25.03.2021, which is the highest in the last 159 days."