The Madras High Court on Monday refused to prohibit political parties from campaigning for the upcoming Assembly elections in the state owing to the rise in COVID-19 cases. The court, instead, directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to advise the parties to follow COVID-19 safety protocols strictly.
As per reports, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the High Court seeking a ban on political parties campaigning for the elections in order to prevent crowding of people. The plea was heard by the Principal Bench of the court consisting Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy. The petitioner stated that he had submitted a representation to the Union government and the state government on March 2 to stop campaigning due to rising COVID-19 cases but had not received a reply and hence, he was forced to move the court.
The court acknowledged the rise in COVID-19 cases in the recent past in the state and said that the second wave of the infection is in the offing. It however, refused to ban campaigning since the poll is scheduled to take place on April 6. The Bench said that it is not possible to interfere with the election process at this juncture. The Chief Justice also urged political parties to ensure that people who attend rallies and public meetings and the candidates wear masks and adhere to physical distancing norms to keep themselves safe from the virus.
The Bench added that it is for the Election Commission to send this message across and ensure that all COVID-19 safety protocols are followed in political campaigns and meetings and dismissed the plea.
Tamil Nadu on Monday reported 1,385 new cases of COVID-19 across the state. Chennai, Coimbatore and Chengalpattu reported a three-digit increase in fresh infections. The state also reported that 10 persons died due to the infection on Monday. The Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu is scheduled to take place on April 6 in a single phase.