Supreme Court of India
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[COVID-19 Pandemic] PIL in Supreme Court calls for preventing the holding of any elections until normalcy returns

Shruti Mahajan

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction for the Chairman of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Disaster Management Authority to ensure that steps are taken to prevent any elections from being held till normalcy returns given the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19.

To this end, the petition filed by Advocate D. Narendra Reddy. urges the Court to direct the NEC Chairman to issue necessary advisories to the State Election Commissions.

The petitioner states that after a total, nation-wide lockdown was announced on March 24 and enforced from March 25, various steps have been taken by the authorities to ensure its implementation in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

"The main purpose of the lockdown was to break the chain of spread of virus with restriction of physical movement of people to maintain social distancing by confining to home to effectively break the chain of spreading of coronavirus in the country."
The petition states.

It is further pointed out that the functioning of Courts across the country has also been restricted to just urgent matters, with steps being taken to conduct the proceedings through video conferencing, keeping in view the norms of social distancing.

In view of the situation, the biennial elections for 18 seats in the Rajya Sabha also stood deferred and elections for the Upper Houses of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Bihar were also postponed. The petitioner, however, says that all the polls, including those of local bodies, ought to be further deferred to ensure the safety of the voters.

Since polling requires the members of the electorate to gather at polling stations, and the same would jeopardise the health of the people, the petitioner highlights. Additionally, if polls are not deferred at a time like this, there may be a low voter turnout and the end goal of the electoral democracy may not be achieved to its fullest, it is added.

"Non deferment of all types of elections throughout the country by the Respondent in the interest of the lives of the citizens would clearly amount to violation of constitutional rights and safeguards provided to the people under the Constitution of India in view of the observations of the Hon'ble Court that right to health is part and parcel of Article 21 of the Constitution of India."
the petition says.

Therefore, the petitioner contends that the Respondent Authorities are obliged under the provisions of law to ensure that all steps are taken for the deferment of all polls across the country until normalcy returns.

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