Rs. 1cr compensation for polling officers' COVID-19 deaths: Allahabad HC
The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday observed that the state government must grant at least Rs. 1 crore as ex-gratia compensation to the families of polling officers who died due to COVID-19 in the recent Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls. A division bench of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar said the government's previous announcement of Rs. 30 lakh compensation was "very less."
Election duty was obligatory for officers despite reluctance: HC
The Allahabad HC said it was not a case of services being extended voluntarily, but "it was made obligatory to those assigned with election duty to perform their duties even while they showed their reluctance," LiveLaw reported. The HC said it was necessary to compensate the breadwinners' families owing to "the deliberate act on the part of the State and State Election Commission."
'Government, State Election Commission well aware of pandemic's threat'
The HC further noted that the state government and the State Election Commission were well aware of the threat of pandemics. Yet, teachers, investigators, and shiksha mitras were forced to take the risk. "It appears that neither the police nor the Election Commission did anything to save the people on election duty from getting infected by this deadly virus," it had earlier said.
Hope UP will rethink amount of compensation: HC
Noting that the officers were forced to perform election duties in the absence of RT-PCR support, the HC said the bereaved families must be granted at least Rs. 1 crore compensation. "We hope the State Election Commission and Government will rethink over the amount of the compensation and come back to us on the next date fixed," the bench said, according to Live Law.
HC took judicial notice of 135 COVID-19 deaths last month
Last month, the Allahabad HC took judicial notice of reports about the COVID-19 deaths of 135 persons who contracted the viral infection during election duties. It had asked the Election Commission to show cause why action should not be taken against it for such violations.
Authorities failed to fathom disastrous consequences: HC
In a related development on Tuesday, a single bench of the Allahabad HC observed that the Election Commission, the HCs, and the government failed to fathom the disastrous consequences of permitting elections in a few states. Earlier in April, however, the HC had dismissed a plea seeking postponement of the UP panchayat elections amid the second COVID-19 wave, citing adequate safety protocols.
Pandemic Public Grievance Committee to be formed in all districts
Regarding COVID-related complaints from people over the non-cooperation of the Uttar Pradesh government, private hospital staff, and the district administration, the court has directed that a three-member Pandemic Public Grievance Committee be formed in every district. The committee will come into existence within 48 hours of the order's passing and directives will be issued by the UP Home Chief Secretary to all district magistrates.