ECI COVID restrictions must be implemented: Calcutta HC

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Kolkata, Apr 23 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the competent authorities to make the people of West Bengal abide by the restrictions imposed by the Election Commission of India on public behaviour regarding protective protocol for Covid-19 in the state which has witnessed an alarming rise in infections.

Hearing PILs with regard to maintenance of Covid protocol during the ongoing assembly elections in the state in view of the recent surge in infections, the court directed the authorities to enforce masking, social distancing etc.

'Any restrictive governance imposed by the Election Commission of India as regards public behaviour as regards the protective protocol in relation to Covid management shall be strictly followed and abided by the people,' a division bench comprising Chief Justice T B N Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee directed.

Taking note of an affidavit submitted by the ECI on the steps taken to ensure observance of Covid protocol in the state, the bench said that it is sure that the ECI is steering its way forward in the proper direction.

The bench directed that all departments or institutions of governance must obey the commands of the ECI and comply and cooperate with its directions.

'This shall be taken as part of the mandatory command of this Court in support of what the Election Commission is carrying forward,' the bench directed.

The court posted the matter for further hearing on April 26.

'The action taken so far, as reported in the latest affidavit, which we have taken on record today, shows that the Election Commission will further push forward requisite action to obtain obedience to its direction,' the bench said.

The high court had on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction with the ECI over lack of action by it to enforce Covid-19 health safety protocol during the ongoing assembly elections in the state.

The division bench had directed the ECI to file an affidavit by Friday stating the steps it has taken and its views on the issues raised by it.

Hearing the PILs, the court had on April 13 directed that it is in public interest that the administration must ensure that all the Covid protocols are strictly adhered to by all concerned including those engaged in election campaigning activities. PTI AMR NN NN