New Delhi [India], Aug 28 (ANI): The Supreme Court in Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking directions to the Election Commission to refrain from holding upcoming Assembly elections in Bihar "till the state is declared COVID-19 and flood free".
A bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan refused to hear plea seeking postponement of Bihar elections and asked the petitioner Rajesh Kumar Jaiswal, a resident of Bihar, to approach the Election Commission of India for the same.
"How can we ask ECI to not hold elections? COVID is not a valid reason for the postponement of the election," the bench said.
When the counsel appearing for the petitioner told the bench that the Representation of People Act says election can be deferred due to extraordinary situation, the bench said it is for the ECI to decide on the matter and added that the court cannot direct poll panel to not hold elections.
The plea sought directions that Election Commission be directed not to recommend to the State of Bihar to publish notification of election in official gazette till February or until the competent authority declares Bihar as COVID-19 and flood free.
It said that Election Commission has shown complete "unawareness" of the extraordinary circumstances and prohibition in the whole country and more particularly the constituencies which are likely to go for polls.
Election Commission has convinced itself that free and fair elections could be held even when the public meetings are banned as well as extremely hazardous to the candidates to contest or indulge in election propaganda, the plea said.
It said that the petitioner had filed a representation to the Election Commission on July 18 requesting it to postpone the Bihar election for the safety of people.
On August 11, the Chief Election Commissioner had announced that Bihar election will be held as per schedule ignoring the fact that Bihar is grappling under COVID-19 and floods, it said.
"By deciding to hold elections during a pandemic, the Election Commission of India has ignored the population of states like Bihar whereby the population is above 9.9 crores and it can't adopt targeted measures for older voters who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Options like proxy voters under a well established legal framework, postal voting, and mobile ballot boxes can not be explored and implemented in such a short span of time," the plea added.
Saying that Bihar has over one lakh COVID-19 cases, the plea said that holding elections will only contribute to spreading the virus in the state.
The plea further sought directions that Bihar government be directed to ensure proper facilities to its residents without focusing on the upcoming election. It also asked that the Election Commission be directed to decide on his representation. (ANI)