Delhi High Court has issued notice to the Centre government and Election Commission over a plea seeking directions to make wearing masks compulsory during the election campaigns. The matter will now be heard on April 30.
In the plea, the petitioner has sought directions to create awareness through digital, print and electronic media for compulsory masking and social distancing during Assembly elections.
The petitioner also sought strict action against the leaders, campaigners, and candidates who are not following the Covid-19 guidelines by not wearing the masks and violating the social distancing rules.
A division bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh issued the orders while hearing a plea filed by Vikram Singh, who is the chairman of think tank Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) and former Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh.
The Assembly Elections are scheduled in the states of Kerala, Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry to be conducted in different phases between March 27 to April 29.
Advocate Virag Gupta appearing for the petitioner submitted that despite various orders and guidelines, election campaigns have been going on in full swing, regardless of the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Reportedly, before the end of the first phase of campaigning in Assam and West Bengal, over 40 road shows and rallies had been organised by major political parties. At the same time, 59,117 fresh cases of COVID-19 were recorded in India on 25.03.2021, which is the highest in the last 159 days,” said the plea.
The application also raised the concern that the biggest casualty during the pandemic was the rule of law itself as strict action was being taken against the common public but there was barely any action against politicians.
“It is submitted that this ‘indirect discrimination’ between members of public, and politicians is evident from high collection of fines from commoners, but no action against politicians. This indirect discrimination is in the teeth of Article 14 of the Constitution,” the plea said.
The plea further stated, “When all the authorities are unanimous on mandatory masking, it defies logic as to why the rule should not be enforced in election campaigns.”