26 Apr 2021: You're responsible for second coronavirus wave: HC tells Election Commission
In sharp remarks, the Madras High Court on Monday solely blamed the Election Commission for the second wave of coronavirus.
A furious HC also said that officers of the top polling body must be charged for murder.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, said it was distressing that constitutional authorities have to be reprimanded like this.
Plea: HC took up a plea linked to counting day
The bench was hearing a plea that flagged concerns over whether coronavirus protocols would be followed during the vote counting of the Karur constituency, where nearly 77 candidates are in the fray.
The results of Assembly polls of Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, and Puducherry, will be declared on May 2.
The EC has received criticism for allowing rallies despite surging coronavirus numbers.
Question: 'Were you on another planet when election rallies were held?'
HC observed that EC didn't take any steps to ensure that coronavirus-related behavior, like wearing masks, use of sanitizers, and maintaining social distance, is followed.
"Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held?" the Chief Justice asked the EC counsel.
He added, "It's only when a citizen survives that he'll be able to enjoy the rights that a democratic republic guarantees."
Hearing: HC warned that it may stop the counting of votes
This particular case also prompted the HC to take note of larger concerns, like whether EC has a plan to ensure COVID-19 protocol is honored at all counting booths.
The HC warned that it could go as far as stopping vote counting on May 2 if the EC doesn't furnish a blueprint.
"The situation now is of survival and protection," remarked the bench.
Fact: 'Public health is of paramount importance'
"At no cost can the counting result in a catalyst for a further surge, politics or no politics, and whether the counting takes place in a staggered manner or is deferred. Public health is of paramount importance," said the bench.
Numbers: Tamil Nadu's single-day tally crossed 15,000-mark on Sunday
The bench has directed the EC to consult the Tamil Nadu Health Secretary and provide details about a plan for the counting day. EC has to submit the plan by April 30.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Tamil Nadu's single-day tally breached the 15,000-mark, taking the statewide tally to 10.81 lakh.
Eighty-two more deaths were reported, pushing the death toll to 13,557.
Aftermath: In Kolkata, one in every two persons is testing positive
Like Tamil Nadu, the incessant rallies have also had an effect on coronavirus numbers in West Bengal. The state is voting in eight phases and the penultimate one is being held today.
As per TOI, one of two persons being tested through the RT-PCR method in the state capital Kolkata is turning to be coronavirus positive. Elsewhere, one in four people is testing positive.
Prediction: The actual positivity rate is much higher, claimed a doctor
A doctor, working with one of the largest labs in West Bengal, said that Kolkata and surrounding areas are reporting a positivity rate of 45-55%.
He predicted that the actual positivity rate is much higher, as there could be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients who aren't getting themselves tested.
"We are not testing enough," the doctor lamented.