EC, Govt Failed to Fathom Disastrous Effect of Polls: Allahabad HC

The court added that though COVID-19 had not reached rural areas last year, it has now spread in villages.

4 min read
Election officials count votes of Uttar Pradesh Panchayat elections at a centre in Mirzapur on Sunday. 

The Election Commission was once again reprimanded when the Allahabad High Court observed that the Election Commission, the higher courts, and the government “failed to fathom the disastrous consequences of permitting the elections in few states and the Panchayat elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh”.

The court added that though COVID-19 had not reached rural areas in 2020, it has now spread in villages.

In a case where an accused had sought bail citing the possibility of getting infected by COVID if arrested, a single-judge Bench of Justice Siddharth Verma made these observations while granting protection to a builder based in Ghaziabad from arrest "on special grounds", NDTV reported.

'State Lacks Preparation and Resources' to Contain COVID in Villages

The court stressed that while the state government struggles to contain the spread of COVID in cities, it’ll be even tougher to carry out tests, detect infections, and treat the population in villages.

Justice Siddharth said in the order allowing an application for anticipatory bail on Monday that “the State lacks preparation and resources for the same at present”.

The order also listed out what the special grounds were, saying, "The apprehension of death on account of reasons like the present pandemic of novel coronavirus can certainly be held to be a ground for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused.”

In detailed observations, part of the 18-page anticipatory bail order, the court highlighted how with the recent panchayat election is contributing to the surge.

The court observed that a large number of FIRs had been lodged in villages, on account of the recent panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh. “Even otherwise, the crime rate in the village is quite high in the state,” it added.

“Keeping in view the overall situation of the villages after the Panchayat elections, large number of accused persons may be infected and their infection may not have been detected,” the court noted.

'Law Is a Dynamic Concept'

The court has granted an anticipatory bail till 3 January 2022. The application had been filed by Prateek Jain, who was booked for cheating, forgery, fraud, criminal intimidation, and criminal breach of trust.

The court added that “the law is a dynamic concept and it is required to be interpreted as per the requirements of time and with the change in the requirements of time, the interpretation and application of law is required to be adopted with change”, NDTV reported.

The court said, “If an accused dies on account of the reasons beyond his control when he could have been protected from death by the court, the grant or refusal of anticipatory bail to him would be an exercise in futility. Hence, the apprehension of death on account of reasons like the present pandemic of novel coronavirus can certainly be held to be a ground for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused.”

Highlighting that there is no proper testing or treatment of person confined in jails, the court also observed that there were several ways in which an arrested person could contract the virus, including from jail inmates, the police, and court personnel.

Referring to the recent judgment of the Supreme Court on permitting journalist Siddique Kappan to be transferred to AIIMS, the High Court said, “The fundamental right to life unconditionally embraces even an undertrial.”


At Least Rs 1 Crore Compensation for Death of Polling Officers: Allahabad HC

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday asked the UP government to reconsider the compensation amount to be given to polling officers who died on duty due to COVID-19 during the Panchayat polls.

The court said that the amount of Rs 30 lakh, as decided by the government to compensate the loss of the bread earner’s life of a family, was too less and added that the amount “must be at least to the tune of Rs 1 crore”.

It was a “deliberate act on the part of the State and State Election Commission (SEC) to force them to perform duties in the absence of RT-PCR support,” the court added.

SEC counsel Tarun Agrawal had told the court that 77 polling officers had died in 28 districts and reports from other districts were still awaited.

The court found that in the affidavit filed in compliance of its order “neither required information, as mandated by our order, has been given nor, otherwise compliance has been made to our various directions” in paragraph 19 of the order, passed on 27 April, The Indian Express reported.

The court also raised the issue of “the number of testing has been reduced gradually. Even the details regarding oxygen production in the State qua 22 hospitals have not been given.”

The court further said that if a report submitted by Nodal Officers of Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Prayagraj, Gautam Budh Nagar, and Kanpur is to be considered, “the scene emerges otherwise than the picture shown with figures of deaths”.

The court fixed the next date of hearing for the issues on 17 May.

It also asked the state and central governments to place before it the programme by which “they would vaccinate those illiterate labours and other villagers between the age group of 18 and 45 years, if they are not able to register online for vaccination”.

(With inputs from Indian Express and NDTV)

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