Plea in Delhi HC for action against Candidates violating EC’s COVID-19 guidelines

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A plea has been filed in the High Court of Delhi seeking direction to the Central Govt to debar such campaigners & candidates from campaigning in the upcoming assembly elections “either permanently or for a stipulated, sufficiently long, period”, if they repeatedly violate the mandatory masking guidelines issued by the Election Commission.

The plea has been moved by Vikram Singh former Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh, & presently the Chancellor of Noida International University & Chairman of Think Tank Centre for Accountability & Systemic Change (CASC) through advocates Virag Gupta & Gaurav Pathak.

The Election Commission has announced assembly elections of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal & Puducherry. While announcing the elections, the Commission at Clause 2(1) of its notification mandated,

“Every person shall wear face mask during every election related activity.” Yet, there are many instances wherein campaigners & their supporters are not wearing masks while campaigning for the elections, the petitioner said.

The petitioner said, “That campaigners from Delhi also go to these Elections to campaign for their party’s candidate & criss-cross the country to campaign in every poll-bound State. That when such campaigners from all political parties are not wearing masks, not only they put themselves at risk, but also the
the common public”.

“That as election rallies are attended by thousands of persons, even a single Covid positive person can cause the event to become a super spreader. That the Election Commission has issued the necessary directive but is failing to implement the same,” the petitioner said.

“The failure to not wear a mask invites penalty as well as criminal prosecution. On many occasions, it has been observed that the general public is arbitrarily penalized for non-wearing of masks, while the high & mighty get away scot-free. In fact, crores of rupees have been collected by various authorities from the public for masks related violations,” the petitioner further said.

“The Assembly Elections are a major hotbed of political activity, with leaders, campaigners, candidates across political parties participating in the same & all such persons are bound by the mandatory mask directive of the Election Commission,” the petitioner added.

“Yet, there are many instances wherein campaigners & their supporters are not wearing masks while campaigning for the elections. Photos & videos showing the same are replete across electronic & print media, & on many occasions, shared by the campaigners themselves,” the petitioner said.

The petitioner added that the Election Commission has huge powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to enforce its guidelines.

Accordingly, the Petitioner sent a representation dated 11 March 2021, asking the Election Commission to take strict action against star campaigners of different political parties to ensure that mandatory masking is effectively followed by one & all during the election period.

The petitioner said that he did not receive any reply to the representation sent to the commission.

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