The Election Commission has moved the Supreme Court against Madras High Court’s observation that the poll body should be booked on charges of murder for allowing rallies to continue in spite of the massive second wave of coronavirus pandemic, Bar and Bench reported on Saturday.

On Thursday, the Election Commission had approached the Madras High Court seeking directions to restrain the media from reporting on its criticism of the poll panel. The High Court, however, refused to pass any such order. The Election Commission has now approached the Supreme Court against the High Court’s refusal to entertain the plea.

The Election Commission in its plea contended that the Madras High Court’s observations were “uncalled for, blatantly disparaging and derogatory”, Bar and Bench reported. The plea added that the allegations of murder were made “without any basis” and it had “ultimately dented both the institutions”.

The petition will be heard by a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah on Monday.

Elections amid pandemic

On April 26, while hearing a plea seeking fair counting of votes on May 2 by making proper arrangements with Covid-19 protocols, Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee held that the Election Commission was “singularly responsible for the second wave of the pandemic”.

The comments came as Assembly elections in five states – West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry – were held despite a record surge in cases in India.

In West Bengal, politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah held gigantic rallies until the third week of April, when the Election Commission finally banned all roadshows and limited gatherings to 500 people amid the worsening situation. The Election Commission has also banned all victory processions by political parties after the results are announced.

After the fourth round of elections in West Bengal, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had announced that it will not organise big election rallies for the remaining phases. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi cancelled his rallies in West Bengal and Banerjee also decided to hold smaller election meetings. Shah, however, said that it was not right to link the surge in coronavirus cases in India to elections.