Panchayat polls: SC seeks replies of UP, SEC on plea for COVID-19 protocol in counting of votes

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New Delhi, Apr 30 (PTI) The Supreme Court Friday sought response from the Uttar Pradesh government and the state election commission (SEC) on a plea seeking direction for observance of COVID-19 protocols in counting of votes on Sunday for recently concluded Panchayat polls there in view of the second wave of COVID-19.

A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar, while issuing notice to the state government and the poll panel, took note of the submissions of lawyer Shoeb Alam and agreed to hear the appeal on Saturday.

The bench was hearing the appeal filed by one Sachin Yadav challenging the Allahabad High Court order which had allowed Panchayat elections to continue in the state.

Alam, during the brief hearing held through video-conferencing, said the polls are now over in the state and the plea can be confined to the observance of COVID-19 protocols in counting of votes on Sunday.

'What measures will the State Election Commission take for counting,' the bench asked.

Referring to sudden rise in COVID-19 cases and the consequent burden on the healthcare sector, the plea has sough a stay on the Allahabad High Court order which had allowed the election to continue.

Uttar Pradesh has been reporting massive surge in fresh COVID-19 cases.

Polling for the four-phased Panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh ended on April 29.

The first phase on April 15 and the second round on April 19 recorded a turnout of 71 per cent. In the third phase on April 26, 73.5 per cent of registered voters turned out to exercise their franchise, officials said. PTI SJK SA