29 April 2021 4:06 PM GMT
The Telangana High Court on Thursday pulled up the State Election Commission for allowing campaigning and holding elections amid the havoc created by second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. "Are elections necessary at this time when Covid-19 is creating a havoc? Do the people's lives matter or the elections?" asked a Bench led by Chief Justice Hima Kohli. Elections of...
The Telangana High Court on Thursday pulled up the State Election Commission for allowing campaigning and holding elections amid the havoc created by second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Are elections necessary at this time when Covid-19 is creating a havoc? Do the people's lives matter or the elections?" asked a Bench led by Chief Justice Hima Kohli.
Elections of Municipal Corporations and the Municipalities are due to be held on April 30 in five Districts of Telangana.
Earlier, the Court had asked the Commission to file an affidavit, furnishing inter alia the plan of action for managing crowding of voters at polling booths, at the premises where counting shall take place and on the declaration of the results.
COVID19- 'Upcoming Municipal Elections May Turn Out To Be Super Spreaders': Telangana High Court Issues Notice To State Election Commission
Today, a Bench also comprising of Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy expressed dissatisfaction at the measures taken by the Election Commission and sought to know if it has considered postponing the elections.
"Merely because you set the ball rolling in December you cannot say that nothing can be done now. You had all the time in the world to review your decision but, you did not take a calibrated decision," Justice Kohli sternly remarked.
She asked the Commission as to why it had decided to hold elections in April when the second wave was rising in February itself.
She also enquired from SEC's counsel as to who and how many people does the Commission proposes to engage to conduct the elections this time.
As the counsel sought leave to seek instructions in this regard, the Judge blasted,
"You have to mobilize a large no. of people to conduct elections and those people have to put their head on the block. They have to do a duty because you are asking them to. They have no option. They are helpless while their lives are being put to risk."
The Court also censured the State Government for giving its concurrence to hold elections in the middle of a pandemic.
It may be noted at this juncture that Section 195 of the Telangana Municipalities Act, 2019 provides that the schedule and the dates on which elections will be conducted, shall be decided, by the State Election Commission in concurrence with the State Government.
It further states that Government has to consider matters pertaining to law and order situation, internal security, availability of staff for election related duties, natural calamities likely onset of any epidemic diseases, matters involving public interest, etc.
Excerpts from the order:
"We place on record our deep dissatisfaction with the manner in which the SEC has decided to put to risk the life and health of the citizens of the State and proceed with the election process which could have easily been put on hold till the intensity of the infection would have abated.
The entire man power of the State machinery has been diverted to managing and streamlining the election process instead of focusing on emergent situation of COVID- 19 infection that requires all hands on the deck.
State Election Commission and the State are directed to ensure that the remaining election process from 30.04.2021 to 03.05.2021, is conducted under strict vigilance and the COVID-19 protocol is enforced without furlher jeopardizing the health ofthe voters and those on election duty."
Click Here To Read/ Download Order