The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday, May 12, held that the Election Commission, Higher Courts, and the government failed to take into account the disastrous consequences of granting permission to hold elections in a few states and the Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a builder who was seeking protection from arrest, a single-judge bench of Justice Siddharth Verma made the observations while granting protection from arrest till January 2022 on special grounds.
A case was filed against the Ghaziabad-based builder, Prateek Jain, by UP Police over an alleged property possession default, reported Financial Express.
The Uttar Pradesh government has been having a tough time in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in urban areas and it would be very difficult to conduct aggressive tests, detect and treat the village population who are worst-affected during the raging second wave of the pandemic, according to the court.
It noted that the COVID-19 infection had not reached the rural areas during the first wave but things have changed this time.
"The state lacks preparation and resources for the same at present," it added.
"Keeping in view the overall situation of the villages after the Panchayat elections large number of accused persons may be infected and their infection may not have been detected," the court said.
Taking these observations into consideration, the court held that the apprehension of the accused of being infected by the virus before and after his arrest, and subsequently spreading the infection, was a valid one. The accused was, hence, given anticipatory bail till January 3, 2022.
"Only when the accused would be protected from apprehension of death, the apprehension of his arrest would arise," it asserted.
The court also noted that a large number of FIRs have been lodged in villages of the state due to violation of COVID.
Court Suggests Higher Relief For Polling Officers
In a separate case, the court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to reconsider the compensation announced for polling officers who died on duty during the panchayat elections due to coronavirus.
The government had announced a compensation of ₹30 lakh to the families of each polling officer, but the court said that it should be around ₹ 1 crore as the amount proposed by the government is "very less" considering the fact that the deceased persons had not volunteered to render his/ her services during election.
This is the second instance of a high court pulling up the poll boy for allowing polls to be held even as COVID cases continued to rise. The Madras High Court had said the EC was singularly responsible for the second wave and should be booked for murder.
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