Delhi HC dismisses plea to defer DSGMC elections due to spike in COVID-19 cases

A Sikh devotee gives a holy dip to a child in the sarover on the occasion of Baisakhi festival at Bangla Sahib Gurdwara in New Delhi on Tuesday. April 13, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The Delhi High Court has dismissed a petition seeking postponement of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections, scheduled for April 25, on the grounds of unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases.

The high court said that once a decision to hold the election has been taken and the process has not been stopped in spite of rise in the number of infected persons in the city, which is functioning barring a few restrictions, the court would not interfere in such policy matters.

A bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Amit Bansal said once it is shown that guidelines for ensuring that the holding of election do not lead to spread of the virus any more than it is already taking place, the court would not interfere in such policy matters.

“The respondent Delhi government as well as the central government is already taking all steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, without however restricting day to day life any more than necessary,” the bench said.

It added that besides the general restrictions put in place by the governments, each institution is taking its own steps for restricting the spread of COVID-19 virus.

“We are confident that not only will Delhi government enforce guidelines already issued to prevent spread of virus during the election, a body as the DSGMC also, will take all possible steps to ensure that the conduct of elections is not a source of spread of the COVID-19 virus,” the bench said in its April 8 order.

A letter was sent to the Chief Justice on April 7 by petitioners Jagmohan Singh and Manjeet Singh Chugh, voters in the list maintained by the Directorate of Gurdwara Elections, and it was registered as a petition and placed before the bench.

The petitioners sought postponement of elections on the grounds that there is an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases in the national capital with doctors stating that if the cases continue to rise at the same rate, Delhi will have 15,000 cases per day and the situation is grim as there is no adherence to the norms.

They have stated that during the election meetings held by various parties and their candidates, it has been seen that neither the candidates nor the voters attending such gatherings are complying with the COVID-19 guidelines on masking and social distancing.

They added that in the past also, elections of the DSGMC have not been conducted on time and the existing body has continued beyond its tenure and can function for another few months, keeping in mind the high rate of infections.

The counsel for Delhi government said that once the election process has begun, it is not to be interfered with.

He said the petitioners have concealed that they had earlier also filed a petition seeking deferment of elections on another ground which was dismissed in March itself and the present plea is yet another attempt on their part to have the elections deferred and to perpetuate the existing body.

The high court found merit in the contention of the Delhi government counsel that the petitioners ought to have disclosed the earlier filing of the petition by them in which they had sought deferment of elections till framing of rules and placing a ceiling on the election expenses incurred by the contesting candidates.

“The conduct of the petitioners of seeking deferment of elections in the earlier petition as well as in the present petition does indeed raise a doubt that the petitioners are acting at the behest of the existing committee members who desire to perpetuate their term as members of DSGMC beyond the stipulated time. There is no merit in the petition. Dismissed,” the bench said.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 11:42:27 AM |

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