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Calcutta HC Directs EC To Act Tough On Flouting Of COVID-19 Norms During WB Poll Campaign

In a key development, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed the strict implementation of COVID-19 guidelines during the West Bengal election campaign. 

COVID-19

PTI


In a key development, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed the strict implementation of COVID-19 guidelines during the West Bengal election campaign. A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee was hearing two pleas that expressed concern that the non-adherence of COVID-19 protocol during the ongoing poll campaign might cause a serious spike in the novel coronavirus cases in the state. While acknowledging the measures taken by the Election Commission at the polling booths, the bench stressed that the poll body needs to take stringent measures against persons who flout guidelines to curb COVID-19 spread. The matter will now be heard on April 19.

Here are the HC's directions:

  • Wearing of masks has to be mandatory at all gatherings
  • Sanitizers must be made available liberally
  • Social distancing norms must be followed at all gatherings
  • The administration should do its best to ensure that there are no public congregations
  • Spread public awareness
  • Members of all political parties and poll candidates who hold meetings for campaigning purpose should ensure that persons present at every gathering wear masks and maintain the social distancing norms
  • The District Magistrates and the WB Chief Electoral Officer will be personally responsible for ensuring that the guidelines are followed by everyone
  • The administration can invoke the provisions of Section 144 to enforce social distancing to avert the possible galloping rise in COVID-19 cases
  • The WB CEO is empowered to issue further guidelines to check the spread of COVID-19
  • The WB CEO will fill an affidavit listing the measures taken for the implementation of the novel coronavirus guidelines for holding a safe election

West Bengal Assembly polls

The HC's directions assume significance on a day when WB recorded its highest single-day spike of 4,817 novel coronavirus cases pushing the tally to 6,24,224. Moreover, the death count also rose to 10,434 after 20 fresh fatalities were registered in the state. The voter turnout for the seats that went to the polls in the first, second, third and fourth phases was 84.63 per cent, 86.11 per cent, 84.61 per cent and 79.90 per cent respectively. The polling for the remaining phases will take place on April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. Meanwhile, the election results will be declared on May 2. 

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