While allowing for the vote-counting tomorrow, the apex court has taken into note the assurance given by the State Election Commission that sufficient measures will be taken to ensure that the COVID protocol is followed at counting centres.
Supreme Court of India. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Today in a special sitting, the Supreme Court of India (SC) has allowed the vote counting exercise of the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections. The counting exercise is scheduled for tomorrow, May 2. The SC has taken into note the assurance given by the State Election Commission that sufficient measures will be taken to ensure that the COVID protocol is followed at counting centres.
Advocate Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati informed the Bench that “Counting will happen in shift of 8 hours each and new officers will come in. After every shift, sanitisation will take place. If it’s more than 75, then it will not happen.”
The Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar stated across the bar that strict curfew will be imposed in areas that will be identified by the concerned authorities in and around counting centres to ensure that only authorised representatives will be able to visit counting centres.
“No victory rallies will be permitted throughout the state of UP. This assurance is placed on record. In addition, it is agreed that the Counsel for SEC that appropriate changes will be made to the recent notification – in place of “or”, it will be “and”,” the bench said.
Meanwhile, over two million members of the various workers’ associations, including teachers, in Uttar Pradesh have decided to boycott the May 2 vote-counting exercise.
Yesterday, April 30, in a letter addressed to the election commissioner of the state election board, the Lucknow-based association — ‘Karamchari, Shikshak, Adhikari and Pensioners Adhikar Manch’, an umbrella organisation — said that the election commission had failed to protect the members of its association who were put in the election duty, many of whom got infected and hundreds even died.
Two back on April 29, in another letter sent to the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the state election commission, Dinesh Chandra Sharma, president of the Uttar Pradeshiya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, a state level teachers’ association, informed that at least 706 shikshak/karmchari (teachers/workers) had died in the state after allegedly contracting the coronavirus infection during training and panchayat poll duty this month.
In its letter, the teachers’ association too appealed to postpone the panchayat polls and also threatened to boycott the vote-counting scheduled for May 2.
Uttar Pradesh has been reporting massive surge in COVID-19 cases every day. UP has recorded 34,372 fresh coronavirus infection and 332 deaths due to COVID in the last 24 hours. The four-phased panchayat elections in the state commenced on April 15, with the final phase on April 29.