25 Feb 2022 2:01 PM GMT
The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the State government to extend police protection to BJP candidates contesting in the upcoming West Bengal Municipal elections by providing one Armed Police Officer to each candidate subject to payment of costs by the candidates themselves. The BJP candidates had preferred an appeal before the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice...
The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the State government to extend police protection to BJP candidates contesting in the upcoming West Bengal Municipal elections by providing one Armed Police Officer to each candidate subject to payment of costs by the candidates themselves.
The BJP candidates had preferred an appeal before the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj against the decision of a Single Bench that had dismissed such a prayer seeking police protection on the ground that there were several discrepancies in the allegations of intimidation and threats levelled by the BJP candidates.
In the instant case, 21 BJP candidates who are contesting municipal elections from Contai municipality had approached the Court seeking police protection until completion of the election process and declaration of the result.
Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya vide order dated February 22 had observed, "there is a fair chance that the representation, at least in respect of some of the candidates, might very well be an election gimmick more than a genuine grievance being expressed before a Court of Law". Accordingly, he had granted armed police protection to only 7 of those candidates and had rejected the prayer for the remaining 14 candidates on the basis of the report submitted by the concerned Superintendent of Police.
On Friday, the Division Bench directed,
"..we direct that all the appellants will be extended police protection by the respondent State by providing one Armed Police Officer each subject to payment of cost by the appellants in accordance with law. While assessing the cost the authority concerned will keep in mind that the protection has been extended to for safety of the candidates in the election, therefore, the cost at the minimum will be assessed"
The counsel for the appellants had contended before the Court that the Superintendent of Police had not assessed the ground situation and threat perception himself and had submitted a vague report.
The Court was also apprised that as per clause (c) of Regulations 666 of Police Regulations, Bengal, 1943, the contesting candidates are entitled to receive police protection on the payment of cost. It was also informed that the appellants are ready to pay the costs required.
Advocate General S.N Mookherjee appearing for the State agreed to providing one Armed Police Officer to each of the candidates on payment of cost on the condition that it will not be used for the purpose of election campaign.
Accordingly, the Court directed the State to provide police protection to the contesting candidates at minimised costs taking into account the allegations levelled by the candidates, the nature of the report submitted by the Superintendent of Police and the provision of clause (c) of Regulations 666 of Police Regulations, Bengal, 1943.
The Court directed the State to comply with the direction by the end of Friday.
Case Title: Shueli Panda Mishra & Ors v. State of West Bengal
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 58
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