Plea in HC seeks compulsory masking during poll campaigns

·2-min read

New Delhi, Apr 7 (PTI) A plea in the Delhi High Court urged it on Wednesday to direct the Election Commission (EC) and the Centre to ensure that masks are worn mandatorily by everyone involved in poll campaigns during the ongoing elections in various states and Union Territories.

The application was mentioned before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh by advocate Virag Gupta, who appeared for the petitioner, and the court allowed it to be listed for hearing on Thursday.

Gupta told the bench that he was mentioning the application before it for urgent listing as the registry has listed it on April 30 and such a long date would make the reliefs sought in the plea infructuous.

The application has been moved by one Vikram Singh who has also sought directions to EC to 'create awareness through digital, print and electronic media for compulsory masking and social distancing during assembly elections'.

'When all the authorities are unanimous on mandatory masking, it defies logic as to why the rule should not be enforced in election campaigns,' the application has said.

Singh has sought a direction to the Centre to ensure strict compliance of its March 23 order, mandating imposition of appropriate fines, on persons not wearing face masks in public and work places, in states and UTs where elections are being held.

The assembly elections in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry were scheduled to be held in various phases, starting from March 27 and will conclude on April 29.

The application, filed through advocate Gaurav Pathak, has been moved in Singh's main petition seeking to debar campaigners and candidates from campaigning in the upcoming assembly elections for repeatedly violating the mandatory guidelines issued by the poll panel in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The court on March 22 sought response from the Centre and EC on the main plea which has been listed for hearing on April 30.

Singh has contended that despite the orders and guidelines of the Centre and EC, 'election campaigning is going on in full swing, without any regard to the COVID-19 regulations'.

He has claimed that there is 'indirect discrimination' against the general public as fines are collected from them for violating COVID-19 norms, but no action is taken against politicians. PTI HMP SA