A day after the Madras High Court held the Election Commission “singularly responsible” for the second wave of COVID-19 and said its officers “should be booked on murder charges, probably”, the commission requested the HC to restrain the media from reporting on oral observations.
The EC argued that there was “nothing to suggest” that campaigning was a significant factor in driving up coronavirus cases in states that went to polls versus those that did not.
In its petition, the EC said it was aggrieved with media reports of the HC’s oral observations. “These reports have tarnished the image of the Election Commission of India as an independent constitutional agency that is entrusted with the constitutional responsibility of conducting elections,” it said.
A police complaint had been filed against the deputy election commissioner accusing him of murder in West Bengal after the media reported on the observations, the EC said
“No one must be permitted to report on the proceedings of this court that are not borne out by the record, especially when the detailed order is made available. There was no occasion for this court to make such observations since the campaigning in Tamil Nadu ended back in April 4.”
The EC said in its defence that the number of cases was relatively low when elections were announced in Kerala, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on February 26.
Comparison of data between the states that voted and those that did not during the campaign period between March 20 and April 4 “does not indicate that the election campaigns were a significant factor, much less than what the court termed as a singular factor”, the EC added.