Hours after chiding the Election Commission and saying it should be ‘booked for murder’ for allowing poll rallies, the Madras High Court in its order stated that at no cost can counting become a catalyst for a further surge.
Compared to the strongly-worded rebuke during the hearing on Monday morning, 26 April, the order seemed milder and accused the Election Commission of "wanton disregard" and "silence" during campaigning carried out without following COVID protocols.
"Despite the court's repeated orders regarding COVID protocol, significance may have been lost on the Election Commission. Public health is of paramount importance and it is distressing that Constitutional authorities have to be reminded in such regard," the court said in its order.
“Counting should take place only with adherence to sanitisation, hygiene, masks, and distancing norms.”Madras High Court
A bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, while hearing a plea moved by Tamil Nadu Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskhar, said: "You (EC) are the only institution responsible for the situation of COVID and should probably be put on murder charges for not preventing political parties from misuse of COVID-19 protocol. You have been singularly lacking any kind of exercise of authority. You have not taken measures against political parties holding rallies despite the court saying 'Maintain COVID protocols, maintain COVID protocols'."
The minister had petitioned the court seeking direction to the Election Commission to follow a slew of measures in ensuring fairness during the counting of votes on 2 May for Karur constituency, where he had contested the elections as an AIADMK candidate. There were 77 candidates in fray at Karur constituency.
"We assure you that we will stop counting if we do not find before 2 May a blueprint on how proper maintenance of COVID protocol is assured so that this state does not succumb to the idiosyncrasies any further," the bench said.
(With inputs from IANS)