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SC says COVID can’t be ground for postponing Bihar polls

Stating that COVID-19 cannot be a ground for postponing elections, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a PIL seeking to defer the Bihar assembly polls till the state is free of the novel coronavirus.

The Election Commission of India would consider everything, a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said.

The bench, also comprising Justices RS Reddy and MR Shah, said it was a premature petition as no notification for the assembly polls has been issued till now.

The petitioner, Avinash Thakur, had sought a direction to the Chief Election Commissioner to postpone the polls due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the ground that the Representation of the People Act provides for the deferment of polls in extraordinary situations.

“How can we ask the Election Commission of India (ECI) to not hold elections? COVID cannot be a valid ground for postponement of elections,” the bench stated.

The petitioner’s counsel said the RP Act provides for the deferment of polls due to an extraordinary situation.

To this the bench said it was for the ECI to decide and the court cannot direct the poll panel to not hold elections.

The petitioner’s counsel also argued that elections were not paramount but human life was, and even MLAs and common people were suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bench said it cannot pass orders for the deferment of polls and the ECI would take into account every situation. It said no writ can be applied like this and dismissed the PIL.