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Parties welcome poll panel’s move, Calcutta HC for ‘strict enforcement’

Amid the surge in Covid cases, the Commission has also decided to make more stringent provisions to be followed during the process of counting.

All political parties in West Bengal on Tuesday welcomed the decision of the Election Commission to ban victory processions after counting of votes in states where Assembly polls were held recently. Amid the surge in Covid cases, the Commission has also decided to make more stringent provisions to be followed during the process of counting.

Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed all authorities to strictly enforce the ban imposed by the Election Commission on rallies and gatherings on May 2, the day of counting of votes and declaration of results of Assembly elections in West Bengal and four other states.

Senior TMC leader and Member of Parliament Sougata Roy pointed out that after the 2011 Assembly election results, the TMC did not organise victory procession.

He said, “We have been saying this from the beginning but the Election Commission did not take any steps. After the Madras High Court observations, the poll panel has taken the decisions.”

In view of the surge in Covid-19 cases throughout the country, the Commission has decided to make more stringent provisions to be followed during the process of counting. No victory procession after the counting on May 2 shall be permissible, an order issued by the poll body to chief electoral officers of all states and UTs said.

BJP state Vice President Joy Prakash Majumder also said that the Election Commission took the “right decision” of not allowing victory rallies. He said, “We welcomed the directives. BJP will ensure all directives will be followed.”

The CPM and Congress also welcomed the decision. Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, Rajyasabha MP of CPIM “However processions should have been earlier banned by the EC during the last phases when the Covid-19 surge started.”

WBPCC President Adhir Chowdhury also praised the EC decision in view of the pandemic situation.

He said, “We had earlier urged the Election Commission to stop gathering of people during the campaign meetings of last three phases of election when the number of Covid patient increased prominently. We are happy the EC prohibited victory processions and we will strictly maintain it.”

Meanwhile, the EC counsel on Tuesday apprised the court that it has banned all public meetings and victory processions throughout India on the said date in the wake of soaring COVID-19 cases.

A restriction of a maximum of two persons has been placed on the winning party for collecting the certificate, the commission told a division bench comprising Chief Justice

TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee, which is hearing a set of PILs on observance of coronavirus guidelines during the election process.

“The restriction imposed by the Election Commission of India as indicated above, shall be strictly enforced by all authorities concerned and it is so directed by this court,” the bench ordered.

Counsel for one of the petitioners also submitted that there is an acute shortage of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and other medicines, and the state should file a report on the steps it is taking to alleviate such a situation.

Advocate General Kishore Dutta, appearing for the state, said daily health bulletins are published on West Bengal Health Department’s website and the same is in public domain.

Dutta said the petitioner is at liberty to access the website and find out what measures the state is taking.

The bench said it expects the petitioner to access the data and report about any grievance that he may have regarding the health bulletin on affidavit, before the court can consider passing any further order.

The next date for hearing has been fixed for May 3.

With PTI inputs

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