21:51 GMT15 May 2021
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    Assembly elections have recently been held in four states - Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal - as well as in the Union Territory of Puducherry, meaning that residents have been out casting their vote while cases of COVID-19 soared across the country. The election results will be announced on 2 May.

    The Madras High Court on Monday slammed the Election Commission of India (ECI) for allowing political parties to hold rallies in states while COVID-19 cases were surging in the country.

    "You are the only institution that is responsible for the situation today…", the court said on Monday, adding that no action against political parties holding rallies has been taken "despite every order of the Court".

    According to the Court, the Election Commission is to be held "singularly responsible" for the second wave of coronavirus in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

    "Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held?" the Chief Justice asked counsel acting for the ECI, referring to the apparent disregard of the coronavirus crisis.

    The court has directed the ECI to submit a blueprint before 30 April, ensuring that COVID-19 protocols are followed on 2 May, the day on which election results in the four states of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal and the Union Territory of Puducherry will be announced.

    The court has also warned that if the ECI fails to submit the blueprint, it will stop the result count, adding that "the situation now is of survival and protection, everything else comes next". 

    Over the past 24 hours India has registered nearly 353,000 fresh cases of coronavirus. The death toll surged by a record 2,812 to a total of 195,123. India's total caseload has crossed 17 million.

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    coronavirus, COVID-19, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, elections, election, Electors, election, Election, election, Indians, Indians, India, Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), West Bengal, State of Assam
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