Plea before SC seeks postponement of State Assembly elections

A petition has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking postponement of Assembly elections in States of Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases [Kanwariya Sena Sangathan v. Union of India].
The petition filed by Kanwariya Sena Sangathan claimed that conducting elections during the third wave of Covid would amount to grave violation of citizens’ Right to Life under Article 21.
“The health of people cannot be protected by causing uncompensated miseries to individuals, thus, there is grave violation of the Article 21 of the Constitution,” the plea said.
The petitioner, therefore, sought a short deferment of elections for 6 weeks till the Covid-19 cases reduce. Attention was drawn to the advice of top Indian medical institutions that the effect of this Covid variant (Omicron) would die down by end of February 2022.
The Court was reminded of the pandemic’s devastating effect during the second wave.
If elections are held in midst of the pandemic, lives of residents in polling States will be threatened since holding the elections would lead to large gatherings and mass processions, the plea said.
An order of the Calcutta High Court in Bimal Bhattacharya v. The State of West Bengal was also cited wherein the High Court had directed the State Election Commission to consider postponement of elections in light of increase in Covid positive cases.
Thus, announcing the elections was in violation of well-settled arrangements prescribed under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, the plea contended.
This plea comes on the heels of Uttarakhand High Court's refusal to defer the State's upcoming Assembly elections while observing that postponing elections was not the job of the Court.
A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) Sanjaya Kumar Mishra and Justice NS Dhanik on 13 January, also refused to pass any directions banning physical rallies.
"Postponing elections is not the job of the Court... The Election Commission of India (ECI) has already given certain directions. ECI is such an institution which is unique. EC is doing a commendable job. Nothing is perfect," ACJ Mishra had remarked.
Similarly, the Allahabad High Court too had declined to entertain a public interest litigation petition which sought postponement of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in view of rising COVID-19 cases.
Bar and Bench