“EC, Govt Mandates Cannot Merely Rest On Paper” : Kerala High Court Calls For Effective Compliance With COVID Norms On Poll Counting Day

first_imgNews Updates”EC, Govt Mandates Cannot Merely Rest On Paper” : Kerala High Court Calls For Effective Compliance With COVID Norms On Poll Counting Day Lydia Suzanne Thomas30 April 2021 7:41 AMShare This – xThe Kerala High Court has, in a strongly-ordered enjoined the Election Commission of India, District Collectors (District Electoral Officers), and Commissioners/Superintendents of Police to ensure effective compliance with COVID protocols on the day votes polled in the Kerala Assembly Elections are counted. A Division Bench of Justices Devan Ramachandran and MR Anitha ordered, “We are certain that the directives of the Election Commission of India and that of the Government cannot merely rest on paper, as it seemingly were when the election campaigns had been completed. This Court cannot, therefore, afford to allow anything to chance, when our State is in the brink of a precipice.” The Court’s observations came in response to a writ petition moved by lawyer Dr KP Pradeep who appeared in his case in-person. His petition sought a declaration that all kinds of public and social gatherings, processions or parades in the ‘name of election oriented or organisational activities by the political parties’ be termed unconstitutional and illegal when COVID-19 protocols are in force. Declaring that the averments presented a compelling public cause, the Court directed strict compliance with all directives issued by the State Government and Election Commission. To this end, the Court suo motu impleaded the Election Commission and ordered notice to Election Commission’s Standing Counsel Deepu Lal Mohan. State Attorney K V Sohan submitted that the state was fully alive to the situation and that Election Commission’s directives from August last year, its recent order dated April 27, and Government Order dated April 26 would be scrupulously implemented. Underscoring that the social distancing protocols are “acme” in the backdrop of the steep rise in cases, the Bench said, “Prima facie, we cannot view this writ petition to be adversarial, since the averments, in its inherent nature and tenor, present a compelling public cause…The upward curve of the pandemic statistics is climbing by the day, reminding all of us to act responsibly and with extreme care. The ‘social distancing’ protocols are acme and need to be enforced effectively and unreservedly, no matter the excuse some may make against it.” The Court therefore called for strict prevention terming it “the need of the hour”. The Bench underscored the importance of preventing gatherings over “the initiation of punitive action after infractions”. Recording the State Attorney’s submissions, the Court directed the respondents to take “effective and requisite steps” to “ensure that no social or political assemblages, meetings, gatherings, processions or parades of any kind – be that celebratorial, cheering or otherwise – in violation of the COVID-19 protocols” took place. The Bench also urged the respondents to make sure there were no infractions of the directives of the Election Commission of India… and the mandate of the Government Order anywhere in the State of Kerala – including at the counting stations or Offices/establishments of political parties between 01.05.2021 and 04.05.2021. Additionally, the Court called for “swift and unreserved action to avert, avoid and prevent any violation of these orders under the applicable laws, including the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act.” With these directives, the Court instructed that the matter be called on May 4 to verify compliance. Just last week, another Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justices Ashok Menon and Murali Purshothaman had recorded satisfaction with measures taken by the State Government and the Election Commission to prevent gatherings and crowds on May 2. “Regarding that we find that no specific order is required from this Court. The Government is at liberty to invoke the provisions of the Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020 and take necessary action against the violators, and we are sure that the Government would be vigilant in implementing the available provisions,” the Court had said.Click here to download the orderTagsElection Commission Kerala High Court Justice Devan Ramachandran Justice MR Anitha COVID -19 Kerala Assembly Elections Next Storylast_img

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