Court blames India's election commission for rise in COVID-19 cases

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India's Home Minister and leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Amit Shah (C top) takes part in a roadshow during the ongoing West Bengal's state legislative assembly elections in Siliguri on April 12, 2021. Photo: AFP

  • High Court of Indian state of Madras says the Election Commission of India officials should be tried on murder charges.
  • Court warns that it may stop ECI from counting votes on May 2 if it does not share a blueprint on COVID-19 protocol at counting centres.
  • “You are the only institution that is singularly responsible for the situation today,” remarks chief justice of the Madras High Court.

An Indian high court has laid the blame on the country’s election commission for the devastating second wave of COVID-19 as it failed to stop massive political rallies in the country, where coronavirus protocols were violated, reported Hindustan Times.

The Madras High Court, which issued the remarks, suggested that officials of the Election Commission of India (ECI) should be tried on murder charges over their poor decision making.

The remarks were issued by the court’s first bench of chief justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy hearing a petition filed by transport minister of Indian state of Tamil Nadu MR Vijayabhaskar. 

It warned that it could also stop ECI from counting votes on May 2 unless the body shares a blueprint on April 30 on COVID-19 protocol at counting centres.

“At no cost can counting result as a catalyst for a further surge, politics or no politics, whether the counting takes place in a staggered manner or is deferred,” the court was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times

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“You are the only institution that is singularly responsible for the situation today,” the chief justice of the Madras High Court said during the hearing as per the Hindustan Times.

“No action against political parties taking rallies despite court orders. Your election commission officials should be put up on murder charges probably.”

As per the publication the ECI is being criticised by the Indians over its decision to allow political parties with no regard for any COVID-19 protocols. It added that the body at multiple times has issued a statement urging leaders to follow COVID-19 protocols but has failed to act against any leader or party for flouting the protocols.

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Chief Minister of the Indian province of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee welcomed the Madras high court observations “which clearly said ECI cannot escape its responsibility”.

“Both Prime Minister Modi and EC are responsible for the (current) situation (of COVID spreading in the state),” Banerjee was quoted by the publication.

India recently held polls for the local assembly in states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, West Bengal and Puducherry. The publication noted that elections have ended in all states apart from West Bengal.

Foreign aid arrives in Covid-stricken India

The first emergency medical supplies trickled into COVID-stricken India on Tuesday as part of a global campaign to staunch a catastrophic wave in the latest pandemic hotspot, with the United States also pledging to export millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses.

India's infection and death rates are growing exponentially, overwhelming hospitals, in contrast to some wealthier Western nations that are starting to ease restrictions.

The virus has now killed more than 3.1 million people worldwide, with India driving the latest surge in global case numbers, recording over 350,000 new infections on Tuesday.

Crates of ventilators and oxygen concentrators from Britain were unloaded at a Delhi airport early Tuesday, the first emergency medical supplies to arrive in the country.

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Elsewhere in the capital AFP images showed smoke billowing from dozens of pyres lit inside a parking lot that has been turned into a makeshift crematorium.

"People are just dying, dying and dying," said Jitender Singh Shanty, who is coordinating the cremation of around 100 bodies a day at the site in the east of the city.

"If we get more bodies, we will cremate them on the road. There is no more space here."