The Election Commission of India (ECI) was ordered by the Delhi High Court on Thursday to ensure strict adherence to its instructions regarding the COVID regulations to be observed by political parties and leaders organising public gatherings and election campaigning.
The court demanded punishment against the leaders of several political parties for breaking the COVID norms of mask and social distance during demonstrations when dealing with public interest litigation (PIL). The petition was resolved by the Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad Bench, who ruled that the Election Commission must follow the rules that were released on April 16, 2021, one year prior.
The bench also took note of the arguments made by Attorney Sidhant Kumar, who represented ECI, who said that the organisation had taken stringent action in this matter and had stuck closely to the aforementioned rules.
The current COVID crisis is under control, the bench added.
Earlier, ECI had vigorously refuted the argument and said that the topic of the elections held in five distinct states fell under territorial authority. Additionally, ECI claimed that the petition was false and urged its rejection.
Dr. Vikram Singh, a former DGP and the chairman of the think tank CASC, filed a PIL in March 2021 requesting that the COVID Guidelines of Mask and Social Distancing be enforced against the leaders of various political parties. The case was currently being heard by the Delhi High Court.
The petition also requested that the Election Commission display prominently the “Election Commission Guidelines for the Conduct of General Elections/Bye-Elections During Covid-19” released in August 2020 on its website, mobile applications, election materials, and other platforms.
The petitioner’s attorney, Virag Gupta, also requested instructions to recover the fine from all political parties based on the number of crowds allegedly present at roadshows and rallies that violated COVID-19 rules of the Election Commission.
Additionally, it requested permission to file formal complaints (FIRs) against prominent political figures and party leaders who had flagrantly disregarded the Election Commission’s rules regarding social distance and masking.
The petition also asked for the punishment of Election Commission personnel who disregarded the petitioner’s legal advice and failed to follow their own mandated COVID rules.
The request demanded the confiscation of every electronic record of political party rallies and road shows that was kept by the Election Commission.
In response to a request to guarantee that masks be worn during election campaigns during ongoing elections in various regions, the Delhi High Court had sent notice to the Centre and the Election commission of India.