Notice to Centre & EC on plea for debarring poll campaigners sans masks

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response of the Centre and the Election Commission on a plea seeking to debar campaigners and candidates from campaigning in the upcoming assembly elections for repeatedly violating the mandatory guidelines issued by the poll panel in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh issued notice to the Centre and the Election Commission (EC) on the petition and asked them to reply to the plea.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on April 30.

At the outset, advocate Sidhant Kumar, representing the poll panel, raised preliminary objection on the maintainability of the petition and said neither the elections are being held in Delhi nor the alleged violation took place here.

The Centre was represented through advocate Anurag Ahluwalia.

The assembly elections in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry are scheduled to be held in various phases, starting from March 27 and will conclude on April 29.

Advocate Virag Gupta, representing petitioner Vikram Singh, said that while announcing the elections, the EC in its notification has mandated that every person shall wear face mask during every election related activity .

The plea, filed through advocate Gaurav Pathak, said there are instances wherein campaigners and their supporters are not wearing masks while campaigning for the elections, and photos and videos showing the same are replete across electronic and print media and on many occasions shared by the campaigners themselves.

The petition said every person has the fundamental right to life, which is being impacted by political leaders, campaigners and candidates not wearing the masks during the election process.

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