New Delhi: The Election Commission on Tuesday banned all victory processions after counting of votes in states where assembly polls were held to check the spread of coronavirus.

The counting of votes will be held in Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Puducherry on May 2.

While the eighth and last phase of election will be held in West Bengal on April 29, the voting exercise is over in Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry.

“In view of the surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the country, the Commission has decided to make more stringent provision to be followed during the process of counting …No victory procession after the counting on May 2 shall be permissible,” an order issued by the poll body to chief electoral officers of all states and UTs said.

It also said that “Not more than two persons shall be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his/her authorised representative receive the certificate of election from the returning officer concerned.”

The decision to ban victory processions came a day after the Madras High Court came down heavily on the poll panel for failing to implement COVID guidelines during campaigning.

The high ourt on Monday castigated the EC over the COVID-19 second wave in the country, holding it “singularly” responsible for the spread.

The court called the poll panel “the most irresponsible institution” and even said its officials may be booked under murder charges.

The judges also orally warned that they would not hesitate to stop the counting of votes on May 2.

The bench directed the Election Commission to file a detailed report by April 30 on the blueprint of COVID-19 protocol to be followed on the counting day.

Following the Bihar assembly poll template, the Commission has reduced the number of counting tables per hall to ensure distancing norms.

“There should be not more than 50 per cent occupancy in counting halls,” an official explained