The Election Commission, the higher courts and the government "failed to fathom the disastrous consequences" of permitting elections in a few states and the panchayat election in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court has said.
A single-judge bench of Justice Siddharth Verma made the observations on Monday while granting protection from arrest "on special grounds", till January 2022, to a builder based in Ghaziabad, near Delhi. A case had been filed against the builder by Uttar Pradesh Police over an alleged property possession default.
The order also listed out what the special grounds were , saying "the apprehension of death on account of reasons like the present pandemic of novel coronavirus can certainly be held to be a ground for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused".
In detailed observations, part of the 18-page anticipatory bail order, the court highlighted how Covid has now reached villages in Uttar Pradesh, with the recent panchayat election in the state contributing to the surge.
"The state government is having a tough time in controlling the spread of novel coronavirus in urban areas, and it would be very difficult to conduct the test, detect and treat the village population found suffering from novel coronavirus. The state lacks preparation and resources for the same at present," the Allahabad High Court said.
Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state, recorded 20,445 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. 301 Covid patients died in the same period, according to data from the Union Health Ministry. It is fourth in the list of worst-hit states in India.
"On account of the recent panchayat elections in the state, a large number of FIRs have been lodged in the villages. Even otherwise, the crime rate in the village is quite high in the state. Keeping in view the overall situation of the villages after the panchayat elections, a large number of accused persons may be infected and their infection may not have been detected," it added.
Last week, the Election Commission of India fought a case in the Supreme Court requesting that the media be stopped from reporting court observations. The election body's objection involved the Madras High Court recently commenting that the commission was singularly responsible for the latest Covid surge and "should be booked for murder" for not stopping election rallies in the last two months. The comment was not in the final order.