The Madras High Court directed the Election Commission of India, the State Government, and political parties should ensure that the Bengal Elections counting day does not become a “super-spreader” case for the Covid pandemic.
A division bench, led by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, was looking into the measures taken by the Election Commission and the State Government to ensure COVID acceptable behaviour on May 2 when the votes were counted. The Health Secretary and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) have addressed the issue in light of the Court’s previous observations, and have laid down COVID-19 protocols to be followed on the counting day, according to Tamil Nadu Advocate General Vijay Narayan. The AG stated that detailed instructions for sanitising EVMs, disinfecting counting halls, thermal scanning, masks, negative COVID records, and crowd control on the day had been provided. On the day of the vote count, the Chief Justice advised political parties to stop large gatherings, celebrations, and processions.
The bench also inquired about the procedure for media on the day of the count. “The inclusion of journalists adds to the throng. The media must be able to count at regular intervals for public information. The presence of the media also acts as a deterrent to unethical conduct. What is the procedure for dealing with media? “Chief Justice Banerjee posed the question. A media protocol, according to the Advocate General, is also in effect. To access the counting booths, journalists must have either an RT-PCR negative result or a certificate stating that they have received two doses of COVID vaccine. The court had previously ordered the Election Commission of India to submit a blueprint to the court detailing its intention to implement the COVID protocol on counting day. If ECI fails to come up with a proposal, the bench has threatened to halt the counting process.