30 April 2021 5:34 AM GMT
In the wake of the Madras High Court's oral observations against the Election Commission of India (EC) charging it as being singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19, the EC has moved the High Court praying that directions be issued to media houses to confine their reports to observations recorded in orders or judgments and to refrain from reporting on oral...
In the wake of the Madras High Court's oral observations against the Election Commission of India (EC) charging it as being singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19, the EC has moved the High Court praying that directions be issued to media houses to confine their reports to observations recorded in orders or judgments and to refrain from reporting on oral observations made during court proceedings.
The petition specifically takes issue with the media's coverage of the Madras High Court's April 26 oral observations that the EC is singularly responsible for the COVID-19 situation in India today and that it should probably be put on murder charges for failing to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocol during election rallies.
The affidavit was filed by Chief Electoral Officer at Tamil Nadu, Satyabrata Sahoo, points out that the oral observations made during the hearing were not finally recorded in the order passed that day in the case. The case itself concerned the counting of votes in the Karur constituency in Tamil Nadu and the adherence to COVID-19 protocol duringthe process. Because of the reportage, the remarks have been attributed to being the opinion of the Court, despite not being borne out by the record it is stated.
In the affidavit, the EC expresses that it is aggrieved by the publications of the Court's oral comments and avers that such publication has caused grave prejudice to the Commission. The EC has also stated that a police complaint has been filed against a Deputy Election Commissioner alleging murder following media reportage on the Court's remarks.
These reports have tarnished the image of the EC as an independent constitutional agency that is entrusted with the constitutional responsibility of conducting elections, the petition states, with the effect of lowering the faith of the masses in democracy and democratic processes.
In addition, the EC takes the stance that none must be permitted to report on the proceedings of this Court that are not borne out by the record, especially when the detailed order is made available by the Court.
The plea states that the EC did not have a chance to refute the Court's observation on that day, and goes on to aver that the Government of the State concerned had the responsibility to enforce laws of general application. "The Election Commission is concerned with the state administration only in so far as it concerns the conduct of free and fair elections", the plea sets out.
It is also stated that the Calcutta and Kerala High Courts have recorded satisfaction with the steps taken by the EC to curb the pandemic.
Therefore, the EC asserts that its officers are not in any manner culpable of murder, nor was the Commission "singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19".
In this light, the EC prays: