The Allahabad High Court has taken Judicial notice of the death of 135 persons, who were on election duty during Panchayat elections in the State, due to Covid-19.
"It appears that neither the police nor, Election Commission did anything to save the people on election duty from getting infected by this deadly virus," a Division Bench comprising of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar sternly observed.
It has now issued to notice to the UP State Election Commission, Lucknow to explain as to why it failed in checking non-compliance of Covid guidelines during various phases of the panchayat elections.
The Court has asked the Commission to show cause why action may not be taken against it and its officials for such violations.
"The State Election Commission is further directed to take immediately all such measures in forthcoming phases of panchayat elections in the State to ensure that the covid guidelines dated 20.04.2021 of social distancing and face masking is religiously complied with, else action is liable to be taken against the officials involved in the election process," the order further stated.
The matter of death of 135 Teachers, Shiksha Mitras and Investigators, who were posted on election duty during the recent phases of Panchayat elections, came to light by way of a news item dated 26.04.2021 published in news daily 'Amar Ujala'.
After verifying the news, the Court took judicial notice of the incident. It said,
"We, make it clear that we will not tolerate any paperwork or public announcements to show account of the steps taken and its sufficiency as it is now an open secret that government had gone complacent due to weakening of virus impact by the end of 2020 in the state and the government got more involved in other activities including Panchayat elections."
It observed that had the Government been constantly vigilant, it would have prepared itself to face the onslaught of the pandemic in its second wave.
It is significant to note that earlier this month, the High Court had refused to postpone the State Panchayat Elections in light of the increase in Covid-19 cases.
While doing so, the High Court had stated the Government has notified adequate health protocol to be followed at the election booths and it hopes that all necessary care shall be taken by the State to prevent spread of infection during the course of panchayat raj elections.
To the contrary, the High Court today observed that none of the Covid guidelines were followed during the election process.
The matter is now fixed for consideration on 3rd May, 2021.
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