New Delhi: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has moved the Supreme Court against the Madras high court for its April 26 remarks where the high court had charged the poll body for “murder” by allowing election rallies amidst the second wave of COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu.
The ECI petitioned the Supreme Court that high court remarks have caused serious damage to both independent constitutional institutions, including the high court itself, and observed that the high court should not have made the remarks in the first place. A division bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah of the apex court will hear the ECI petition at 10: 30 am on Monday, May 3.
On April 26, the Madras high court was hearing a petition filed by AIADMK’s R. Vijayabhaskar, which raised concerns if adequate arrangements were in place to carry out vote counting in the Karur constituency of Tamil Nadu by following all COVID-19 safety protocols.
It was during that hearing the high court wanted “murder charges” against the poll body. “You are the only institution that is responsible for the situation today. No action against political parties taking rallies despite every order of the court. Your election commission should be put up on murder charges probably!” the Madras high court chief justice Sanjib Banerjee had remarked orally.
Following this, the ECI on April 30 moved the Madras high court to raise its objections against Banerjee’s remarks and also to seek directions to media against “sensationalising” news and reporting on oral observations made by the court.
Refusing to admit the ECI petition, the high court hit back at the poll body once again, stating that “post mortem” on any remarks and directions to media can wait, as the focus should be laid on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Therefore, the ECI’s petition in the Supreme Court is on both counts: one, the remarks made by the Madras high court, and two, the refusal to admit its April 30 petition for hearing.
Stating that Madras high court’s “disparaging” and “derogatory” remarks against the poll body uncalled for, the ECI in its petition to the Supreme Court said that high court remarks have led to a “dangerous trend” where a criminal complaint has been filed against its deputy election commissioner in Tamil Nadu for allowing “murder”. It said the allegations made by the high court were “without any basis”, which have ultimately dented both the institutions.
The ECI also added that the remarks have caused serious damage to its reputation built over the years, and the impact of which is such that people in the farthest corners of the country where no elections were held in the recent past are pinning the blame on ECI for COVID-19 in the country.