Supreme Court Allows Counting of Votes In Uttar Pradesh’s Panchayat Elections Upon State’s Assurances Of Following CoVID Protocol
The Supreme Court Bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar & Justice Hrishikesh Roy today allowed counting of votes of UP Panchayat Elections upon State Government & State Election Commission, Uttar Pradesh assurance of following the CoVID protocols issued vide notifications dated 29.04.2021 & 30.04.2021 by the State Election Commission.
“The operating protocol mentioned therein is being and will be adhered to by all the stakeholders as well as duty holders without any exception.”, the bench observed.
The Bench in the present matter was hearing an appeal against the order dated 07.04.2021 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad vide which the Bench rejected the request of deferring the panchayat elections in the State of Uttar Pradesh by recording the assurance given by the State and the State Election Commission that essential measures (protocol) for safety and security of all concerned during the campaign and until completion of elections would be adhered to in letter and spirit and as delineated in the guidelines issued by the State Government, State Election Commission including the Central Government, as the case may be.
The State & the State Election Commission agreed for imposing strict curfew in areas notified by the concerned authorities in & around the counting centre until the completion of counting & declaration of results to ensure entry of only the candidates & their authorized representative in the counting centre.
“Besides, no victory rally will be permitted throughout the State of Uttar Pradesh after the results are announced or during the counting process is in progress.”, the Commission further assured.
The Learned Counsel for the State Election Commission also ensured for making appropriate changes in the Notification dated 29.04.2021 in Clause 1, namely, in place of ‘or’ , it will be read as ‘and’ , to ensure compliance of both the conditions by the candidates and the representatives while visiting the counting centres. An undertaking was also given by the State Election Commission to duly preserve the CCTV recording at the designated counting areas & centers & further agreed to notify the names of persons in-charge of the concerned counting centres who would be made accountable for any lapse regarding compliance of the guidelines and the assurances recorded herein, at the given centres.
Also the Commission submitted the designated Official would be the Nodal Officer to whom the candidates contesting the election or anyone interested could give suggestions for improvising the facilities in and around the counting centres.
In this context, the Court observed that the norms related to production of RT PCR or Rapid Antigen Test report or Covid-19 vaccination completion report specified for candidates & their authorised representatives vide Notification dated 29.04.2021 would also apply to officials deployed or entering at the concerned counting centres as in the case of the candidates and their authorized representatives.
The Court further added that “Although, we dispose of these petitions, it will be open to the parties to make an application before the High Court in the pending proceedings for further directions, as may be required from time to time.
Case Title: Sachin Yadav v. State of UP