Following a special sitting on Saturday, the Supreme Court refused to adjourn the counting of the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Elections.

The counting is set to take place tomorrow amid concerns about the spread of COVID transmission. A division of the Bench comprised of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Hrishikesh Roy granted the counting to take place tomorrow in light of the Uttar Pradesh State Election Commission’s “solemn assurances” that adequate security has been taken to ensure that COVID procedure is followed at the counting centres.

The petitioner’s advocate, Shoeb Alam, testified before the bench that the counting centres might turn out to be “beds of infections.” The bench was also informed that several teachers who had been allocated counting duties had expressed concerns about performing the duty in the midst of the COVID surge. Alam also told the bench that many teachers who were on election duty had later died of COVID, and that the Allahabad High Court had taken cognizance of the matter.

The bench contended that it was not deposed to intervene with the counting process in light of the State Election Commission’s assurances that appropriate steps would be taken.

The Hon’ble Court had dismissed the appeal to diverge the recording by recording SEC’s submissions that all protocols would be followed in letter and spirit. Senior Advocate Aishwarya Bhati, the State Election Commission’s counsel, told the bench that a Class 1 Officer from the State Government will be assigned to monitor each of the 800 counting centres and will be kept accountable for the counting centres. It was also stated that the counting centres are equipped with CCTV cameras, and that all footage will be stored, and that a strict curfew will be imposed in areas recognised by the authorities concerned in and around the counting centres to ensure that only approved members can access the counting centres.

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