EC moves Madras High Court against 'murder' comment

EC moves Madras High Court against 'murder' comment

The Election Commission argued that media houses should refrain from reporting on oral observations made by the court

Madras High Court. Credit: iStock Photo

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has reportedly moved the Madras High Court to direct media houses to refrain from reporting on oral observations made during court proceedings and report only on observations recorded in orders or judgments.

According to a Bar and Bench report, the plea was filed by the EC following the wide reportage of the Madras High Court's oral observations on April 26. The judges had made a scathing attack on the EC, accusing it of being 'singularly' responsible for the resurgence of the second wave of Covid-19.

The High Court had slammed the EC for allowing political parties to hold rallies, in the run-up to the Assembly polls. It went to the extent of saying that its officials "should be booked for murder".

Also read: EC officers should be booked under murder charges: Madras HC slams political rallies during Covid-19

The affidavit filed by Chief Electoral Officer at Tamil Nadu, Satyabrata Sahoo, has highlighted that the said oral observation was not finally recorded in the order passed that day in the case and argued that the media reports on the issue "have tarnished the image of the ECI as an independent constitutional agency that is entrusted with the constitutional responsibility of conducting elections", the report added quoting the plea.

The EC added that such "aspersions have the potential of lowering the faith of the masses in democracy and democratic processes."

The ECI argued that data from poll-bound states compared with non-poll-bound states during the campaign period showed that campaigns did not significantly add to the rise in Covid-19 infections, and it was much less likely that it was the "single factor" that contributed to it as the HC had said. It also added that no polls were held in states with the highest number of cases.

It cannot, therefore, be said that the ECI is 'singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid-19' nor the officers of the Election Commission of India be said to be culpable for “murder", the ECI argued.

Various high courts came down hard on the Centre and state governments over the spike in Covid-19 cases. The Madras High Court on April 29 pulled up the Centre over its alleged lapse in taking prompt action in containing the Covid-19 pandemic, wondering what it was doing for 14 months. 

"Why are we acting only now in April, though we had one full year?" the CJ asked when Additional Solicitor General R Sankaranarayanan told the court that the resurgence of the second wave of the virus was "unexpected". 

(With PTI inputs)

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox