Importance and steps for‘Free, fair and safe’ elections amid pandemic

Importance and steps for Free fair and safe elections amid pandemic

Synopsis:  EC should ensure ‘Free, fair and safe’ upcoming elections in the states of Kerala, Tamilnadu, West Bengal, Assam and Pondicherry (UT). 

 Background 

  • Since the pandemic broken, Millions of people have exercised their political right to vote in more than 34 countries, including India (In Bihar).   
  • With the reappearance of a variant of covid virus in countries like Britain, human beings exposing themselves to the risk of getting and spreading infection through this exercise of franchise is immense. 
  • So, it becomes crucial that when elections are announced ECI should pay equal attention to both the election (democratic process) as well as the constitutional rights “right to life” as enshrined in Article 21 and “right to lead a healthy life” as held by SC in Sunil Batra vs. Delhi Administration. 
  • But as a life with liberty will be pure theory if a person’s life itself is placed in danger. Thus, there is a need for taking additional measures while announcing elections. 

What are the precautions that needs to be taken while conducting elections in these states? 

As the upcoming elections in Kerala (140 seats), Tamil Nadu (234), Puducherry (30), West Bengal (294) and Assam (126) are scheduled in the coming months. Following steps should be taken to ensure the people’s right to health life; 

  • First, the senior citizens who are more vulnerable to infections should be enabled to vote in the first three hours of the voting using a separate queue-lane.   
  • Second, Personnel scheduled to be drafted for election duty including security staffs needs to be identified as a priority category for getting vaccinated. 
  • Third, every voter entering a booth must be asked to wear mask like the mandatory requirement of Voter Identity card. 
  • Fourth, ECI needs to repeat the precautions that were taken during Bihar elections such as reducing the numbers of voters per booth, increasing the number of booths, thermal testing each voter and making postal votes available to senior voters above the age of 80. 

Commitment to political freedom and a compliance with pandemic mitigation measures are an unavoidable contradiction It is the constitutional duty of the state to protect and reduce the risks of pandemic hazard to as near zero as possible while allowing citizens towards their constitutional entitlement of universal adult franchise. Elections during the pandemic must be made safe from the virus to protect the Democracy. 

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