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Uttar Pradesh panchayat poll: Supreme Court refuses to defer counting process

Officials carry ballot boxes to polling stations in Lucknow. File photo   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Supreme Court on Saturday refused to intervene in an appeal to defer the counting process in the Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections on May 2 after the State and Election Commission gave assurances to follow COVID-19 protocol.

Appearing before a Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Hrishikesh Roy in a special sitting, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, for the State, said essential measures (protocol) for safety and security of everyone concerned in the counting centres, including the recent notifications on April 29 and April 30 on COVID, would be complied with.

Ms. Bhati said strict curfew would be imposed in areas notified by the authorities, in particular, in and around the counting centres. The curfew would continue till the declaration of results.

“That will ensure that only the candidates and their authorised representatives would be able to visit/enter the counting centres and gathering of general public is avoided,” the order noted.

“Besides, no victory rally will be permitted throughout the State after the results are announced or during the counting process is in progress. This assurance is placed on record,” the court said.

The court also recorded that the undertaking given by the State Election Commission that the CCTV recording would be done at the counting centres and preserved.

“The State Election Commission has also agreed to notify the names of persons who will be in-charge of the counting centres and who will be made accountable for any lapse regarding compliance of the guidelines and the assurances recorded herein, at the given centres.”

These designated officials should be the nodal officer whom the candidates or anyone interested in giving suggestions for improvising the facilities could be in touch with.

“Needless to observe that the norms specified for candidates and authorised representatives of the candidates to produce RT-PCR or Rapid Antigen Test report or COVID-19 vaccination completion report would also apply to officials deployed or entering at counting centres as in the case of the candidates and their authorised representatives,” the Bench said.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 3:32:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/sc-allows-counting-of-votes-for-up-panchayat-polls-on-sunday/article34456317.ece

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