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Calcutta HC seeks reply from EC for flouting of COVID norms at rallies, polling in Bengal

ANI | Updated: Apr 22, 2021 22:26 IST

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], April 22 (ANI): The Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the Election Commission (EC) to file a reply in the form of a brief affidavit mentioning why COVID protocols were not followed at public meetings, rallies and during voting despite circular.
The High Court sought the EC's reply by tomorrow. The court's direction comes against the hearing of PILs filed by various petitioners.
"We are unable to reconcile the fact that the Election Commission of India is not able to update us as to what action by way of enforcement of the
circulars has been obtained. Issuance of circulars and holding of meetings by themselves do not discharge the onerous responsibility of the Election Commission of India," the court said.

"Officers under its (EC) command in due performance of not only the statutory power and authority under the Representation of People Act, 1950 and the Representation of People Act, 1951 but the confidence that the Indian polity would have on it to carry forward the mechanism of upholding the democracy by use of requisite facilities even in pandemic times like heightened challenge by COVID-19 virus and its variants," noted the court.
The court further said, "We are not satisfied with the materials on record to state that the Election Commission of India and its officers on the ground in West Bengal have enforced their circulars. We are sure that circulars are not merely advisories to be wrapped up by the political parties or those involved in the political propaganda or even the public at large."
"The circulars of the Election Commission of India show the route map and the protocol for human behaviour, meaning thereby the behaviour of the political parties, their workers, the people at large and responsible management by the officers including the police and other forces under the command of the Election Commission of India," it added.
"We expect learned counsel for the Election Commission of India to return to make submissions with a very short affidavit reflecting on whatever we have stated hereinabove. In view of the urgency of the situation, we cannot but post these matters as the first item tomorrow (April 23, 2021)," reads the order.
West Bengal recorded 10,784 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, according to the state health department. The number of active cases in the state stands at 63,496. (ANI)