The Supreme Court on Monday stayed an order of the Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh high court of October 20 restraining physical gathering all over election campaigning by candidates in bye-elections to 28 seats.
The order came on an appeal filed by Election Commission (EC) which said that the HC order paralyzed election process with few days remaining for the election on November 3. But the apex court also pulled up the EC for not taking a proactive role to enforce Covid-19 protocol at election rallies that led to the high court order.
The HC had directed all campaigning to be held practically and permission for physical gathering was once to be provided by district magistrate only whether virtual mode was once unattainable. Such a permission by a DM was once to have the EC’s approval and the candidate was once asked to deposit money that is enough to purchase double the number of masks and sanitizer for those attending the event.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar, while granting stay, told the EC that had it taken a proactive role in enforcing the Covid SOPs of social distancing, the HC do not have interfered in the matter.
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“You’ll have intervened at the appropriate level and asked government to take steps. At public meetings you’ll have ensured SOP was once followed and those candidates who were found to violate ought to have been issued notice. We want you were proactive to oversee elections better. Whether parties maintained protocol, this situation do not have arisen,” the top court said.
The appeals were filed by the EC and two BJP candidates Pradyuman Tomar and Munnalal Goyal. The BJP candidates appealed to the Court to allow the EC to imagine their request granting extra time for campaigning in view of 7 days missing for campaigning.
The bench left it to EC to take a call on this sort of representation that is moved by candidates or political parties.