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Covid spike: Plea in Delhi HC seeking directions to Centre, EC to take action against star campaigners, political leaders

Advocate Virag Gupta, representing the applicant, has claimed in his plea that masking rules were flouted with impunity by the political parties, their leaders and campaigners during the rallies, public meetings and roadshows conducted during the ongoing pandemic.

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A plea has been filed in Delhi High Court on Tuesday seeking directions to the Election Commission to take actions against the star campaigners and leaders of all political parties who participated in assembly polls in West Bengal for allegedly violating Covid -19 norms.

The applicant, Vikram Singh, the former DGP of Uttar Pradesh and Chairman of think tank Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change has sought directions to the Centre and the poll body to take actions like lodging FIRs, imposing a penalty against the political leaders. The plea has also sought to ensure compulsory home quarantine of persons who campaigned in the last one week in West Bengal.

Advocate Virag Gupta, representing the applicant, has claimed in his plea that masking rules were flouted with impunity by the political parties, their leaders, and campaigners during the rallies, public meetings, and roadshows conducted during the ongoing pandemic. This unhindered and uncared-for all-out campaigning has resulted in the severe surge in coronavirus cases in that state where the positivity rate has gone up from 5 percent to 24 percent, the plea said.

The plea contended that the lackadaisical action of the Election Commission in implementing its own guidelines. The non-cancellation of permission given for roadshows and rallies during the assembly polls is evident from the number of campaigners contracting Covid infection. The EC failed to implement the guidelines it put in place for the conduct of general elections or by-elections during Covid-19 published in August 2020.

The plea further stated that whatever little action that the commission is now taking is only under huge public pressure and amounts to only lip service. Hence, the applicant sought prosecution of ECI officials who failed to enforce their own mandatory Covid-19 guidelines.

In his previous application, Singh has moved the court for ensuring that masks are worn mandatorily by everyone involved in poll campaigns during the ongoing election in four states and a Union Territory. In this regard, the High Court had issued notice to the Centre and EC seeking a response on the matter on April 8.

The two applications have now been filed within a main petition in Singh’s name seeking to debar campaigners and candidates from campaigning in the assembly elections for repeatedly violating the guidelines issued by the poll body in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read Also: Plea in Kerala HC seeks fixed rates for COVID-19 treatment in hospitals

The legislative assembly elections were held in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, and Puducherry in various phases from  March 27 and will be concluded on April 29.

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