The Madras HC on Friday refused to grant interim relief on the ECI's request for directing the media to confine its reporting to the court's orders or judgments. A division bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy was hearing the suo moto case on COVID-19 issues pertaining to the COVID-19 situation in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Earlier on Monday, the HC described the poll body as an "irresponsible institution" which should face murder charges for its failure to ensure compliance with COVID-19 norms in election rallies purportedly leading to a spike in cases.
In the plea, TN Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo claimed that the publication of the HC's oral comments had caused 'grave prejudice' to the poll body and went on to state that a police complaint had been registered against the Deputy Election Commissioner alleging murder. During the hearing, the ECI counsel Rakesh Dwivedi apprised the court of various measures taken to ensure that the COVID-19 safety norms are followed during the counting of votes on May 2. Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General R Sankaranarayanan also mentioned steps taken by the Centre to contain COVID-19 spread.
However, the HC noted in its order, "Two aspects cannot be missed. First, is the Union's endeavour to indicate that surge in (COVID) numbers may be unexpected and prefatory measures have been taken for quite some time. Second aspect is the Election commission's concern about sensationalism. The Post-Mortem on either count may have to wait particularly in light of immediate measures that may be put in place." The matter was adjourned to May 5.