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No “Impurity” In Counting Process For Bengal’s Nandigram Seat: Election Body

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No “Impurity” In Counting Process For Bengal’s Nandigram Seat: Election Body


No “Impurity” In Counting Process For Bengal’s Nandigram Seat: Election Body

The poll body has rejected the Trinamool appeal for a recount of votes at Nandigram. (File)

New Delhi:

The Election Commission has said that the Returning Officer (RO) is the “final authority under the law” in the matter of recounting in the Nandigram assembly constituency.

“Certain sections of media have reported about the matter of recounting in Nandigram AC. Returning officer (RO) of an assembly constituency performs statutory functions under the RP Act, 1951 in quasi-judicial capacity independently. Whether it is nomination, polling or counting, the RO acts strictly in accordance with the extant electoral laws, instructions and guidelines of the ECI,” the poll body said.

“On such an application being made the returning officer shall decide the matter and may allow the application in whole or in part or may reject it in toto if it appears to him to be frivolous or unreasonable,” it added.

After the counting in Nandigram assembly constituency, the election agent of a particular candidate requested for a recount, which was rejected by the returning officer, through a speaking order, on the basis of material facts available before him and declared the result, the poll body said. “In such a case, the only legal remedy is to file an EP before the High Court,” it said.

The poll agency explained the fair process of counting.

“Each counting table had one micro observer. Their reports never indicated any impurity of counting process on their respective table. The RO caused the entries of votes polled by each candidate after each round to be written on the display board which could be easily seen by the counting agents. No doubt was raised on the result of round-wise counting. This enabled the RO to proceed uninterruptedly with the counting of votes,” it said.

“In addition, on the computer installed in the Counting Hall, parallel tabulation work was also done in an Excel sheet to counter-check any human error. A copy of each of the rounds” results was shared with all the counting agents. After every round, counting agents signed the result sheets,” it added.

“On the basis of media reports on undue pressure on the RO Nandigram, the commission directed the Chief Secretary West Bengal on 3 May 2021 to provide adequate security, which State Government has now provided,” the EC said.

“The Commission has further directed CEO West Bengal to ensure the safe custody of all election records including polled EVM/VVPAT, video recording, statutory papers, counting records, etc,” it said.

After her defeat in Nandigram, incumbent West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday alleged that the Returning Officer of the Assembly seat had said that he was threatened against recounting of votes.

Ms Banerjee had said: “I received an SMS from someone wherein returning officer of Nandigram has written to someone that if he allows recounting, then his life would be under threat. For four hours the server was down. Governor also congratulated me. Suddenly everything changed. I will move court.”

The Trinamool Congress on Sunday wrote to the Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal seeking “immediate re-counting of votes and postal ballots” in the Nandigram constituency.



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Constitutional Authorities, Stop Complaints On Media Reports: Supreme Court

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Constitutional Authorities, Stop Complaints On Media Reports: Supreme Court


Constitutional Authorities, Stop Complaints On Media Reports: Supreme Court

“It would be retrograde for the Supreme Court to gag media,” the Supreme Court said.

New Delhi:

Constitutional authorities can do better than to complain and ask for fetters on the media, the Supreme Court said today on the Election Commission’s petition complaining about media reports on the Madras High Court telling the poll body it should be booked for murder for not stopping political rallies amid Covid.

“It would be retrograde for the Supreme Court to gag media,” the Supreme Court said.

“We find no substance in prayer of EC to restrain media from reporting court proceedings. It is essential to hold judiciary accountable.” 

The Justice DY Chandrachud-led bench did say the remarks made by the Madras High Court were “harsh and the metaphor improper” and judicial restraint was necessary.

“There is a need for judicial restraint for off the cuff remarks which is open for misinterpretation. Judicial language is important for constitutional ethos. Power of judicial review is so high that it forms a basic structure,” the top court observed. The Election Commission had been conducting free and fair polls, it added.

However, the High Court was faced with rising Covid cases and the task of protecting the lives and liberty of people, the court said.

“Open access to courts is a valuable safeguard to constitutional freedom. Freedom of the press is a facet of constitutional freedom of speech and expression,” said the Supreme Court.

The Election Commission had complained about being “castigated without any evidence” when the Madras High Court reprimanded it on campaigns in the middle of a Covid surge.

The Madras High Court on April 26 said the Election Commission “should probably be booked for murder” for allowing crowded election campaigns and was “singularly responsible” for the current Covid spike. But these observations did not make it to the final order, which said “at no cost can counting become a catalyst for a further surge”.

The Election Commission last week approached the Supreme Court against what it called “blatantly disparaging remarks” and said the media should be stopped from reporting observations. It also said it was the government under the Disaster Management Authority that had to manage the rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chief Minister (E Palaniswami) and “they committed the breach”.

The Supreme Court said: “Something is observed in the larger public interest. The Election Commission should treat it as a bitter pill in the right spirit.”



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Kerala To Enforce Lockdown From May 8 To 16 Amid Rising Covid Cases

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Kerala To Enforce Lockdown From May 8 To 16 Amid Rising Covid Cases


Kerala To Enforce Lockdown From May 8 To 16 Amid Rising Covid Cases

Kerala Lockdown: India has crossed the grim milestone of 2 lakh Covid deaths

New Delhi:

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday announced a statewide lockdown from May 8-16 to fight the surge in coronavirus cases.

Most states have taken to partial lockdowns or containment measures to fight the deadly sweep of the second wave of infections.

Yesterday, the centre’s top scientific adviser warned about the “inevitable” third wave of coronavirus, adding that vaccines will need to be “updated” to deal with the new strains that have overwhelmed hospitals and left thousands dead.

India has crossed the grim milestone of 2 lakh Covid deaths.

In his address to the nation last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi likened the second surge of coronavirus to a storm and urged state governments to use lockdowns as an absolute last resort. He stressed on micro containment measures and Covid-appropriate behaviour to beat the virus.

 



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90 Workers Covid Positive In Assam Team Estate, Now A Containment Zone

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90 Workers Covid Positive In Assam Team Estate, Now A Containment Zone


90 Workers Covid Positive In Assam Team Estate, Now A Containment Zone

Ninety workers at Zaloni tea estate have contracted COVID-19.

Guwahati:

Ninety workers and staff members of a tea garden in upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district have tested positive for coronavirus, forcing the district administration to declare it a containment zone. 

The Dibrugarh district administration has shut down the Zaloni tea estate which falls under Tengakhat revenue circle.

The Circle Officer of Tengakhat revenue circle, Medical Inspector of Plantations and officials from the health department has been rushed to the area to take stock of the situation.

The garden hospital and the two vacant staff quarters have been turned into temporary isolation centers for the positive patients.

Dr. Nabajyoti Gogoi, the District Surveillance Officer of IDSP, Dibrugarh said a vaccination drive would be carried out in the garden from today apart from other measures like sanitization etc.

Tea garden-based organizations have been demanding vaccination in the tea garden areas since there is a possibility that the virus would spread faster in the tea gardens as the workers in the gardens reside in close proximity.

The district administration has ordered closure of all leased weekly market under Tengakhat Development block with immediate effect.

The Deputy Commissioner also instructed the concerned Circle officers/ BDOs to take steps to close all such markets in their respective areas if the situation demands.

Assam on Wednesday reported 55 COVID-19 fatalities, the highest single-day deaths, pushing the total number of fatalities to 1,485,  according to the government.

The state also registered 4,826 new COVID-19 cases, which took the tally to 2,72,751, it said.



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