Days after the Madras High Court slammed the Election Commission not stopping poll campaigns even as COVID-19 rose, the poll body has now approached the Supreme Court. On Monday morning a bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah heard the EC's objections to the High Court order and it's "murder" allegation. The apex court however declined to gag the media, even as it urged High Courts from making "off the cuff" oral remarks.
For the uninitiated, elections recently took place in five states and union territories even as COVID-19 cases in India surged to dizzying heights during the second wave of the pandemic. Last week, the Madras High Court came down hard on the Election Commission, calling it the "the most irresponsible institution" and holding it responsible for the spread of the COVID-19. The court had said that EC officials might even be booked under murder charges.
Addressing the SC, the Election Commission said that it had been castigated without any opportunity to seek any reply from officers responsible under Disaster Management Act. The poll body also sought to stop the media from amplifying the Madras HC's remarks.
""When rallies were happening, the situation was not that bad. We have serious objections to the observations. The high court's observation led to a continued discussion on electronic media that we are murderers," the EC said.
Hearing on Election Commission's plea, the Supreme Court said that the media cannot be stopped from reporting oral observations made by judges during the course of hearings and noted that oral observations are also of public interest. "They are also humans and they are also stressed. Take this in the correct spirit. We don't want to demoralize our high courts, they are vital pillars of our democracy," the apex court said.