Despite the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the nation, the Supreme Court on Saturday refused to stay the counting of votes for the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat polls, starting on Sunday. It, however, has banned victory rallies during or after the counting of votes, reported PTI. 

The local body elections in UP were held in four phases — on April 15, April 19, April 26 and the last on April 29. More than 500 teachers and support staff died while on election duty amid the aggressive second wave of COVID-19, several media houses reported. The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the state Election Commission over the reported deaths.

Meanwhile, the state Election Commission has given assurance to the apex court that necessary measures will be taken during the counting of votes, reported ANI. 

The court has directed the state to impose curfew till the votes are counted in the centres. 

The election commission assured the SC that a strict curfew will be imposed in areas, identified by the concerned authorities, in and around counting centres. It’ll be done to ensure that only authorised representatives will be able to visit counting centres.

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The election body has also agreed to notify names of persons who shall be in charge of concerned counting centres.

Meanwhile, UP recorded 34,626 new COVID-19 cases and record 332 deaths on Friday. Till now, the state has recorded 1,252,324 COVID-19 cases and 12,570 deaths.