Pay ₹1 Cr Damages To Polling Officers Who Died Of COVID: Allahabad HC

HC observed that State's compensation of Rs 30 lakhs to families of poll officers who died from COVID was very less.

States must give Rs. 1 crore as ex-gratia compensation to the families of those polling officials who died due to COVID after the recently concluded panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court observed on Tuesday.

"It is not a case that somebody volunteered to render his/her services during election but it was all made obligatory to those assigned with election duty to perform their duties during election even while they showed their reluctance," the division bench observed.

"To compensate the loss of life of the bread earner of the family and that too because of the deliberate act on the part of the State and State Election Commission to force them to perform duties in the absence of RTPCR support, the compensation must be at least to the tune of Rs.1,00,00,000/-," the high court order read.

The observations were made while a division bench of the Allahabad High Court was hearing its suo motu matter on issues arising from the second covid wave.

Also Read: "Enough To Spend On Elections, Little On Public Health": Allahabad HC

State, Police, Election Commission did nothing to save people on election duty

The division bench on May 7 had observed that "neither the police nor, Election Commission (EC) did anything to save the people on election duty from getting infected by this deadly virus."

The high court issued a show-cause notice to the Yogi Adityanath-led government after taking judicial note of 135 COVID deaths of persons who were on election duty. Soon after the high court's order, the state government had announced a compensation of Rs. 30 lakhs to the families of those polling officials who died while on election duty.

The high court on Tuesday observed that this was very less and advocated an enhanced compensation of Rs. 1 crore.

Also Read: Religious, Political Gatherings Threat To Human Life: Plea Seeks Ban

Election Commission, Higher Courts & State failed to fathom consequences of elections

In an unrelated matter, a single bench of the Allahabad high court observed that the poll panel, higher courts and the state governments "failed to fathom the disastrous consequences of permitting the elections in few States and the Panchayat elections in the State of Uttar Pradesh."

"The infection of novel coronavirus, which had not reached the village population in its first wave of novel coronavirus spread in the last year, has now spread to the villages," Justice Siddharth had observed on May 10 while granting anticipatory bail to an accused.

In May, four states and one union territory went to the polls. While UP had scheduled its panchayat elections, Telangana was going to vote for its municipal body as well as its rural body. Millions gathered for poll rallies even as infections in the country spiked at the end of March. During the ongoing second COVID wave, a single-day spike went as high as 4.13 lakhs cases.

While Telangana high court had expressed its reservations over conducting municipal body elections during a pandemic, the Madras High Court on April 26 had said the election commission should be tried on charges of murder for failing to prevent abuse of COVID-19 protocols during the elections.

Also Read: "Cannot Ban Media Reporting Oral Observations": SC To Election Commission

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