When additional solicitor general R Shankaranarayanan said the Centre did not expect a second wave of Covid-19 in the country, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said: “Do you (the Centre) even consult an expert on such issues? We did not mean to disrespect anyone.”
Chief Justice Banerjee said he had “never met a respectable doctor who advised me to drop the guard”.
The bench, which had told the EC this week that it would stop the May 2 counting of votes in the absence of a blueprint to maintain Covid protocol, questioned why the Centre was “acting only now in April, (when) this will help only in July”.
“There can’t be ad-hocism in dealing with a pandemic, and the Centre should have acted in a planned manner with expert advice,” the judges said. “…Despite having almost a year-long lockdown, see the situation we are in.”
The bench made the observations on a suo motu public interest writ initiated to check Tamil Nadu’s preparedness to tackle the second wave.
As for May 2, which is a Sunday, a curfew has already been clamped in keeping with stipulated restrictions during vote counting.
Recording the submissions, the court directed the AG to ascertain how the media, particularly television crew, would be regulated at counting centres. “Their presence is imperative, but given the number of television channels, they would be a crowd,” the court said.