Amid the ongoing Assembly elections in various States and Union Territories, the Delhi High Court on Thursday, April 8, issued a notice to the Centre and the Election Commission (EC) on a plea seeking action against leaders, campaigners and candidates violating the mandatory COVID-19 guidelines.
The petition was filed by Vikram Singh, chairman of the think tank Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC), and former Director-General of Police (DGP), Uttar Pradesh.
Assembly elections in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Puducherry are scheduled to take place in various phases between March 27 and April 29.
Advocate Virag Gupta, representing petitioner Singh said he mentioned the plea for urgent hearing, and the court approved it.
The petition stated that despite multiple directives and guidelines issued by the Centre and EC,' campaigning is going on in full swing', violating mandatory COVID-19 regulations.
Major political parties organised over 40 roadshows and rallies in Assam and West Bengal before the end of the first phase of campaigning, the plea said. "At the same time, 59,117 fresh cases of COVID-19 were recorded in India on March 25, which is the highest in the last 159 days.''
The petition highlighted the significant 'indirect discrimination' witnessed during COVID-19 as strict actions were taken against commoners; however, no actions were taken against politicians.
"It is submitted that this 'indirect discrimination' between members of public, and politicians is evident from the high collection of fines from commoners, but no action against politicians. This indirect discrimination is in the teeth of Article 14 of the Constitution," The Hindu quoted the petition as saying.
The petition called for directives to the poll panel to raise awareness regarding the mandatory COVID-19 guidelines, such as masking and social distancing during Assembly elections through digital, print, and electronic media
"When all the authorities are unanimous on mandatory masking, it defies logic as to why the rule should not be enforced in election campaigns," the plea added.