Heavens won't fall if Elections are not conducted amid pandemic, PIL filed against Bihar Elections

"Our democracy is a participatory democracy. Conducting elections in pandemic will lead to its’ assassination," says Advocate Mrityunjay

-Aayushman Awasthi & Paramjeet Ojha



Election Commission of India has issued new guidelines to conduct elections during COVID-19. ECI will positively announce the dates of Assembly Elections very soon in Bihar. Advocate Mrityunjay has filed a PIL in the Patna High Court to postpone these elections. Our Legal Interns Aayushman Awasthi and Paramjeet Ojha talked to him regarding this petition. Here is the full interview:



Interviewer:

Today we have on board Advocate Mrityunjay Kumar practicing in the High Court of Patna. Mr. Mrityunjay has been practicing in the High Court of Patna since 2018. Recently he filed a PIL for postponement of Bihar Legislative Assembly elections in the High Court of Patna.

So, Mr. Mrityunjay can you please tell our readers something about yourself.

Mrityunjay:

My name is Mrityunjay Kumar. I come from Aurangabad district in Bihar. I completed my graduation in BBA LLB from Uttarakhand Technical University, Dehradun in the year 2018. Since then I have been practicing in the High Court of Patna.

Interviewer:

Mr., Mrityunjay coming straight to the facts, can you please tell our readers the motive behind filing a petition in the High Court of Patna.

Mrityunjay:

The country is hit by a pandemic and we all are facing the worst human crisis. We have been locked in our homes for the past 6 months. World’s biggest medical organization WHO has failed to find a cure for the virus. No vaccine has been discovered till now. The only thing we can do to protect ourselves from the virus is social distancing i.e. by maintaining a gap of at least 2 yards. Mass gathering can cause mass spread of the virus. Already Bihar is one of the most affected states due to the virus. Elections will cause mass spread of virus even if you take proper precautions.

Interviewer:

The election commission has issued guidelines for the proper conduct of elections during the pandemic. Don’t you think by following proper guidelines and taking precautions Bihar can go ahead with the elections?

Mrityunjay:

The election commission can postpone small elections like Loksabha by-elections and Rajyasabha elections due to the pandemic, but it can conduct a humongous assembly election in the state of Bihar which has 243 seats. No matter how much precaution you take and how much you follow the guidelines, people will not go to vote out of fear of getting infected with corona.

Interviewer:

The elections you are talking about are the ones which were going to happen when our country was just hit by the pandemic. Now we are in a much better position, don’t you think the people should accept the new normal?

Mrityunjay:

The Prime Minister announced nationwide lockdown on 24.03.2020 so that we can prepare for the future challenges and control the spread of virus. Talking specifically, the state of Bihar was busy in wasting all the time and no groundwork was done. We have 1 doctor for 30,000 people. Out of the 10 government medical institutes in our state, only 4 are functional. Testing in the state has been the lowest in comparison to other states. There has been sudden rise in the death rate. People are not getting treatment in time. The period in which the govt. should solely focus on the healthcare sector rather they are just making money by the funds provided to them.

Interviewer:

Don’t you think that the election commission and the govt. are unable to understand the situation that’s why they are conducting elections?

Mrityunjay:

The govt. is well versed with the situation and the ground reality. Our CM has not stepped foot outside his house for the past 90 days. The govt. has failed miserably in the healthcare sector. They just want to be in power and to save their government; they are in favor of conducting elections. Right to vote is a constitutional right, it has been provided in the constitution that if any emergency arises in the state, the president in consultation with the governor can declare president’s rule at least for a period of 6 months and can postpone the elections. But even after such poor condition of the state the election commission is keen on conducting the elections.

Interviewer:

Bihar is not only battling the pandemic, but also has been the victim of floods. How the election commission machinery will process in the flood hit areas?

Mrityunjay:

I have talked about this issue in my petition but not much as Bihar has been the victim of floods for many years during this part of the year. No development has taken place on how to control floods, build dams & bridges on rivers. More than 50 lakh families were destroyed due to the floods in Bihar. In a situation where an individual and his/her family are destroyed how can you expect him/her to vote. The corona crisis has just deepened their wounds which will never fade away. Our democracy is a participatory democracy. Conducting elections in pandemic will lead to its’ assassination.

Interviewer:

Why as an Advocate you have filed the PIL? Why not any other petitioner?

Mrityunjay:

First of all being an Advocate does not prohibit me from being a concerned citizen of the state. I am filing this with the help of my colleague Advocates Shashwat, Vishal, Anjani and Ashwani. Secondly, nothing will change if elections are not held in this situation. Heavens are not going to fall. RJD-LJP has already demanded postponement of elections. Why is the ruling alliance in a hurry to contest elections?

Interviewer:

So, now we have come to the end of our interview. We wish you all the luck for the petition. We stand with the people of Bihar in this time of crisis. We would like to tell you that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Thank you for talking to us.

Mrityunjay:

My pleasure. Thank you for your support.

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