28 Feb 2022 8:58 AM GMT
An advocate representing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mentioned before the Calcutta High Court on Monday that a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed alleging large scale violence in the recently concluded Contai Municipality elections. Elections to 108 municipalities in the State took place yesterday i.e. on February 27.A Bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava...
An advocate representing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mentioned before the Calcutta High Court on Monday that a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed alleging large scale violence in the recently concluded Contai Municipality elections. Elections to 108 municipalities in the State took place yesterday i.e. on February 27.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj was apprised by the advocate that large scale electoral violence took place and that there had been a 'complete distortion of law and order'.
The Court was further informed that the violence that took place was manifest and thus the Court's leave was sought to urgently hear the matter.
The counsel appearing for the BJP prayed before the Bench to consider hearing the matter on March 2. He also mentioned before the Court that the hearing of other petitions filed by the BJP that had alleged violence during the recently concluded elections to 4 municipalities and praying for the deployment of central forces is due to take place on March 7.
Considering the grievance raised, the Chief Justice orally remarked, "File it, we will consider it".
According to various newspaper reports, the civic polls to 108 municipalities in West Bengal was marred by widespread violence. It was reported that throughout the day yesterday, reports of intimidation allegedly by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers, electoral malpractices and attack on journalists emerged from various parts of the State.
The Court last week had directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to collect information in respect of the conditions prevailing in each of the Municipalities where the elections are scheduled and hold a joint meeting with the Home Secretary of the State and the Director General and Inspector General of the Police within 24 hours. The SEC had also been directed to examine the ground situation of each of the 108 Municipalities and take a decision in writing with respect to the deployment of central paramilitary forces.
Opining that the State Election Commissioner will be personally liable if violence takes place, the Court had further ruled, "If the Commissioner, State Election Commission takes the decision not to deploy the paramilitary forces, then he will be personally liable to ensure no violence takes place and free, fair and fearless elections take place in the municipality where paramilitary forces are not"
Subsequently, the SEC had decided to not deploy central paramilitary forces during the civic polls. The Court had been adjudicating upon a plea moved by the BJP alleging that large scale violence and rigging of votes took place during the recently conducted elections to 4 municipalities in West Bengal and accordingly sought for deployment of central forces for the upcoming elections to the remaining 108 municipalities.
Elections to four municipal corporations – Siliguri, Bidhannagar, Asansol and Chandernagore took place on February 12. Polls to these four municipal corporations were postponed at the instructions of the High Court considering the spike in COVID-19 infections a month back.
Subsequently, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant had dismissed the special leave petition filed against the decision of the Calcutta High Court which had declined to issue directions for the deployment of central forces for the upcoming elections to to the remaining 108 municipalities of West Bengal which took place on February 27.
The Court had earlier directed the State Election Commission to hold a joint meeting with the Chief Secretary and Home Secretary of the State as well as the Director General and Inspector General of Police within 12 hours and decide as to whether deployment of central paramilitary forces will be required for the peaceful conduct of the upcoming elections to the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation.
Opining that the Commissioner of the State Election Commission will be held personally liable to ensure that no violence takes place, the Court had further directed, "In case, if the Commissioner, State Election Commission forms an opinion that deployment of the paramilitary forces during Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation election is not necessary, then he will be personally liable to ensure that no violence takes place and free, fearless and peaceful elections are held in Bidhannagar."
The State Election Commission had subsequently decided to not deploy central forces for the elections to the 4 municipal corporations.
It may be noted that the High Court in December 2021 had dismissed an appeal moved by the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) against a Single Bench order of the High Court wherein BJP's plea seeking deployment of Central Forces for the Kolkata Municipal Elections had been declined. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation Elections took place on December 19.
The Supreme Court had earlier refused to entertain such a plea by the BJP seeking deployment of Central Forces for the Kolkata Municipal Elections, by asking the party to approach the Calcutta High Court for such a relief. "We cannot take decisions with respect to the requirement of Central force. High Court will be in a better position to know the situation", the bench comprising Justices L Nagesara Rao and BR Gavai of the Supreme Court had told Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, who was appearing for the BJP.