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Madhya Pradesh HC slams political meetings ahead of bypolls as Covid cases rise

Though schedule for MP bypolls is yet to be announced, political activity has gathered pace, especially in the Gwalior-Chambal region where 16 seats are going to polls.

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Bhopal: Coming down heavily on political gatherings in violation of Covid-19 protocols, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has observed that “law, whether statutory or in the shape of executive instructions, deserves respect and obedience, as much from a common man as from a leader, a political functionary and even the head of state”.

The high court was on 18 September responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking action against political parties for violating the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court and state governments under the National Disaster Management Act. 

Though the schedule for byelections is yet to be announced, political activity has gathered pace in the state, especially in the Gwalior-Chambal region that is home to 16 of the 28 seats that are going to polls.

“In the interest of public at large, rather in the interest of the nation, we trust and expect that till the next date of hearing political functionaries and functionaries of the state shall strictly abide by the ‘Covid-19 protocol’ prescribed by the Central government, the state government and the district magistrate of the district concerned from time to time for regulating the congregation of any nature,’’ said a division bench comprising Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava.

The petitioner’s counsel had argued that “state authorities are not discharging their duties properly due to unexplained pressure over them” and requested the court to issue an order to immediately stop such gatherings because of the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

Photographs submitted in court

The bench said it’s undisputed that the pandemic is on the rise, and noted that allegations have been made against political functionaries who are supposed to be a role model for the people they represent.

Referring to photographs submitted by the petitioner’s counsel showing large gatherings, the court said, “If the photographs filed are taken to be of recent gatherings as alleged, then the political functionaries/administrative authorities appear to be acting in irresponsible manner.”

Appointing three advocates as amicus curiae, the court said it expects them to immediately inform it through the principal registrar of the bench (Gwalior) about “any breach of this order by anyone so that case can be taken up at an earlier date”. 

Listing the matter in the week commencing 28 September, the court asked the principal registrar to list the matter immediately on receiving any intimation from any of the amicus curiae after taking due approval from the principal seat at Jabalpur. Gwalior and Indore have benches of the high court while the principal seat is located in Jabalpur.

Also read: Shivraj Chouhan again rejects plan for eggs in anganwadi meals, says will give milk instead



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