Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Friday directed police and District Collectors to ensure that no assembly of people takes place in the state for four days from May 1 in connection with the counting of votes for assembly elections on May 2.
Banning the victory processions of political parties following the counting, the court also directed that stringent action be taken against those who assemble violating the COVID-19 protocol.
Justice Devan Ramachandran directed police and Collectors to take “effective and requisite steps to ensure that no social or political assemblages, meetings, gatherings, processions or parades of any kind–be that celebratorial, cheering or otherwise–in violation of COVID-19 protocols,” as also directives of the Election Commission and the Government Order– anywhere in Kerala between May 1 and May 4.
Banning such activities in all places, including at the counting stations or offices/establishments of political parties, the court directed that swift and unreserved action be taken to avert, avoid and prevent any violation of these orders under the applicable laws, including the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act.
The court gave the directive in a PIL seeking to declare all kinds of public and social gatherings, processions in the name of election oriented or organisational activities by the political parties as unconstitutional and illegal during the period when the COVID-19 protocols are in force.
Earlier this week, the high court had disposed of pleas seeking a direction to declare lockdown in Kerala on May 2, the date of counting, accepting the assurances from the state government and EC that only counting related activities will be allowed on that day.
The poll panel has said it has banned all victory processions after counting of votes in states where assembly polls were held to check the spread of coronavirus.
No victory procession after the counting on May 2 shall be permissible and not more than two people shall be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his/her authorized representative to receive the certificate of election from the Returning Officer concerned, the commission has said.
The state government has informed that in view of the spread of coronavirus, all social, political, cultural and religious events have been prohibited, along with the closure of cinemas, malls, gyms, bars, clubs and sports complexes from April 27 until further orders.
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