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COVID-19 | How the Allahabad High Court is monitoring U.P. govt's response

A view of Allahabad High Court. File  

The Allahabad High Court has said the compensation provided to kin of polling officers who died on duty during the panchayat polls due to the “deliberate act on the part of the State and the State Election Commission to force them to perform duties in the absence of RTPCR support” should be at least ₹1 crore.

The State government had recently told the court that it would provide a compensation of ₹30 lakh to the family members of the deceased polling officers, including teachers and siksha mitras.

“It is not a case that somebody volunteered to render his/ her services during election but it was all made obligatory to those assigned with election duty to perform their duties during election even while they showed their reluctance. The amount of the compensation, in our considered opinion, is very less,” a Division Bench of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar said on Tuesday.

Ground situation

Continuing to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation in the State and the response of the government, the court has routinely not only delivered strongly-worded observations but also critically assessed the ground situation including the minute details of beds in hospitals, urgency in vaccination, patients requiring oxygen supply, the supply of essential medicines and the death of persons involved in polling duty during the pandemic as well as the death of a fellow judge due to the virus. The High Court’s rulings have not only consisted of pointed suggestions and queries but also stern warnings in cases of mishandling of the pandemic at both the district and State-levels and unsatisfactory replies by authorities. Since April 6, the court has held six sittings with the last four coming over the fortnight.

Plaints of non-cooperation

On Tuesday, the court directed the government to form a three-member pandemic public grievance committee within 48 hours in all districts to look into reports of complaints by people directly. The court took note of the complaints of people in various districts regarding non-cooperation of the government and private hospital staff and the district administration for making available life saving drugs such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumap or oxygen.

A Bench of Justice Siddharth on May 10 observed that the Election Commission, the higher courts and the government failed to fathom the disastrous consequences of permitting the elections in few States and the panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh. “The State lacks preparation and resources for the same at present,” the court said on the government’s preparedness to check the spread of COVID-19 in rural areas.

‘Criminal act’

On May 4, a Division Bench of the court remarked that deaths of COVID-19 patients due to lack of supply of oxygen to hospitals “is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen.”

The High Court had on April 27 also reminded the State government that it must shun the attitude of ‘my way or no way’ and welcome suggestions from all the quarters while dealing with the pandemic. In an earlier order, the court told the State government that “we must give priority to public health over elections” and hoped that the government would streamline every department of public health and public care in the light of directions issued by it to curb the spread of COVID-19.


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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 5:20:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/compensation-to-kin-of-up-polling-officers-who-died-on-duty-very-less-allahabad-high-court/article34545478.ece

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