THE Election Commission of India (ECI) Saturday approached the Supreme Court against “oral” observations of the Madras High Court saying that the EC is singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid19 and its officers should probably be booked for murder.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah is scheduled to hear the EC’s on May 3.
The EC in its appeal stated the remarks made by the high court were uncalled for, blatantly disparaging and derogatory.
It said the court made these remarks without any proof or providing adequate opportunities to allay such a perception.
“The high court ought to have appreciated that the Election Commission India enjoying a constitutional status, cannot be put to embarrassment by such baseless oral observations which lead to their publication in the press and media and thereby undermine the sanctity of another constitutional authority”, the EC stated.
It added the remarks resulted in a police complaint against a Deputy Election Commissioner after the media widely disseminated the oral observations of the Madras High Court.
The EC has also prayed for no coercive action pursuant to the complaint.
“The media houses on all platforms, ie, social, electronic and print gave wide publicity to the aforesaid observations made by the high court which not only tarnished the image of the Election Commission of India as an independent Constitutional Authority, which is entrusted with the Constitutional mandate of conducting elections in the largest and most vibrant democracy of the world but also had an impact of lowering the faith of the masses on democracy and democratic processes themselves”, the plea says.
The plea states that high court had failed to note that the press and media are only to report that which is contained in the order of the court and publishing oral observations of the judges as news cannot be permitted in law and as they do not constitute the final view of the court.
“The press and media have the responsibility in ensuring that its reporting is accurate and court proceedings cannot be sensationalized to the detriment of the democratic process and lead to loss of public faith in systems. Directions and guidelines are to be framed in the manner of reporting of court proceedings that have to be made with the view of maintaining the sanctity of the legal proceedings”, the plea states.
On April 26, a division bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy had said, “At no cost should the counting result in being 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 and it is distressing that constitutional authorities have to be reminded in such regard”.
The commission yesterday also approached the HC against its oral observations but the high court said the “post-mortem on EC’s concern at sensationalism may have to wait, particularly in the light of the immediate measures that may be put in place that is to ensure Covid19 appropriate behaviour on the day of polling.”