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Kolkata Municipal Polls: Calcutta High Court Reserves Orders In Petitions By CPI(M) Candidates Seeking Repoll Over Alleged Violence

Aaratrika Bhaumik
23 Dec 2021 1:15 PM GMT
Kolkata Municipal Polls: Calcutta High Court Reserves Orders In Petitions By CPI(M) Candidates Seeking Repoll Over Alleged Violence
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The Calcutta High Court on Thursday reserved orders in two petitions filed by CPI(M) candidates alleging that booths were captured, votes were rigged and large-scale violence had taken place in the recently concluded Kolkata Municipal polls which took place on December 19. The petitions had been filed by CPI(M) candidate Debolina Sarkar (from ward number 2) and Faiyaz Ahmed Khan (from ward...

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday reserved orders in two petitions filed by CPI(M) candidates alleging that booths were captured, votes were rigged and large-scale violence had taken place in the recently concluded Kolkata Municipal polls which took place on December 19. The petitions had been filed by CPI(M) candidate Debolina Sarkar (from ward number 2) and Faiyaz Ahmed Khan (from ward number 75). 

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bhardwaj heard the counsels at length and reserved orders in the matter. The Chief Justice remarked, "We will not be closing the petition, we will upload the order in a day or two on the website". He further stated that the Bench will not be assembling for the issuance of the order due to the upcoming vacation. Accordingly, the matter has been listed for further hearing on January 6.

The counsel appearing for CPI(M) candidate Debolina Sarkar alleged that rigging of votes had taken place and accordingly sought repolling. The Court was further informed that a representation for repolling had been submitted to the State Election Commission however no such repolling had been ordered. 

Furthermore, the counsel appearing for CPI(M) candidate Faiyaz Ahmed Khan claimed that he had been injured by members of the ruling party on the day of the elections. The counsel also placed on record the injury report in this regard as issued by the SSKM Hospital, Kolkata. "This is very unfortunate in a democracy..till now he is bedridden", the counsel submitted further. 

The petitioners also implored the Court to issue directions to preserve CCTV footage, EVM machines pertaining to the recently concluded municipal polls. Furthermore, it was also prayed before the Court that diaries of polling agents and presiding officers must be preserved in order to file before the Court as evidence.

Advocate General S.N Mookerjee contended that such petitions are not maintainable in light of the bar under Article 243ZG(b) of the Constitution which stipulates, "no election to any Municipality shall be called in question except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as is provided for by or under any law made by the Legislature of a State". He further submitted, "Other than Election Petitions, no other writ petitions will lie". 

The AG further submitted that the relevant State legislations such as the West Bengal Municipal Elections Act, 1994 and the Rules thereunder have to be challenged first before the instant pleas can be declared as maintainable. Reliance was also placed on a host of Supreme Court decisions such as Mohinder Singh Gill v. Chief Election Commissioner, Dr. Subramanian Swamy v. Election Commission of India in this regard. 

On Thursday, while hearing another petition in a related matter, the Bench was also apprised by the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) that large-scale violence had taken place in various municipal wards. It was also submitted that bombing had also taken place in a polling booth.

Case Title: Debolina Sarkar v. WB State Election Commission; Faiyaz Ahmad Khan v. WB State Election Commission 

Also Read: Kolkata Municipal Polls : BJP Seeks Preservation Of CCTV Visuals Of Alleged Violence; Calcutta HC Reserves Orders

Also Read: WB Municipal Polls : State Election Commission Submits Election Schedule To Calcutta High Court


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