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COVID-19 cannot be ground for postponing elections: Supreme Court refuses to entertain plea seeking postponement of Bihar Polls

The petition prayed for a direction to the ECI to recommend against holding of polls in Bihar till the state is declared free of COVID-19 and floods.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today refused to entertain a petition seeking deferment of the Bihar Assembly Elections due to COVID-19 and floods.

The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah declined to entertain the petition, terming it as "premature" and "misconceived".

The Court questioned how the prayer can be granted when the notification for holding of elections has not even been issued yet. Moreover, the Bench opined that COVID-19 cannot be the reason for deferring polls and that the Election Commission of India (ECI) would factor in the prevailing situation while announcing dates for the polls.

Justice Bhushan observed,

"Covid cannot be the ground for postponement of elections, especially when the notification declaring the election is not even issued. This is a misconceived petition under Article 32, we cannot entertain this petition."

When counsel for the petitioner sought to highlight the steps taken by the authorities in various other countries where important national events stood deferred or cancelled on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court said that the ECI would take care of all the situations.

"The Election Commission will take all the necessary precautions and consider everything. Why do you think they will not consider these things?", Justice MR Shah said.

The Court then allowed the petitioner to withdraw the plea.

The petition prayed for a direction to the ECI to recommend against holding of polls in Bihar till the state is declared free of COVID-19 and floods.

The state is reeling under severe and extraordinary circumstances on account of not only the COVID-19, pandemic but also the recent floods, stated the petition filed through Advocate Shantanu Sagar.

The petitioner had further raised the question whether it is the ECI exercising its power under Article 324 of the Constitution, or the President or the Governor that decides the schedule for polls after the ECI's recommendation.

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