Flout Covid SOPs, face action: Election panel warns parties

New Delhi: The Election Commission has shot off a letter to the Presidents and General Secretaries of all recognised national or state political parties, warning against flouting of Covid-19 guidelines issued earlier.

It said that non-compliance of instructions during the period of “public interface” will attract actions as per provisions of Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 besides Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.

“Instances of such public meetings have come to notice of the Commission, where large numbers of crowds have assembled in utter violation of social distancing and the political leaders/campaigners are addressing the gathering without wearing masks in complete disregard of the guidelines/instructions issued by the Election Commission.

“By doing so, the political parties and candidates are not only flouting the guidelines of the Commission with impunity, but exposing themselves as well as the public attending the rallies/meetings to the danger of infection during the pandemic,” said the fuming poll body.

The EC says it has taken a “serious view of the laxity on the part of political parties and candidates”, on the ground, in terms of maintaining crowd discipline, and asked them to demonstrate utmost vigil and care during electioneering.

It also said that it expects CEOs and the district administration to invoke appropriate and relevant penal provisions against the candidates concerned as well as the organizers responsible for such violations.

Separate instructions for strict compliance of guidelines are being issued to Chief Electoral Officers and the state governments of poll-bound states.

A lot of political leaders are seen to be addressing massive gatherings in the Bihar election where no physical distancing is being maintained or leaders themselves fail to wear masks.

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