Supreme Court to take call on polls to 7 Bengal civic bodies

MAMATA GOVT’S PLEA AGAINST CALCUTTA HC ORDER FOR POLLS BY 16 JUNE TO BE HEARD TUESDAY 

Supreme Court of India.
Supreme Court of India.

By bappaditya paul

WEST BENGAL GOVERNMENT on Monday filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on Calcutta High Court’s 16 April directive wherein it had ordered elections to seven civic bodies in the state by 16 June.

This after a division bench of Calcutta High Court headed by Chief Justice Manjula Chellur last Friday rejected a state government plea for more time to hold the polls.

According to Bengal municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim, the Apex Court has listed the SLP for hearing on Tuesday. Coinciding this, the Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) has convened a meeting at 3 pm tomorrow with the DMs, SPs and Police Commissioners of the civic poll-bound districts to discuss poll preparations.

The SLP was today filed on a day the Bengal poll commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya told an all-party meeting that the notification for elections to the seven civic bodies would be issued on 20 May and the elections would be held on 14 June in pursuance of the 16 June deadline fixed by the High Court.

The seven civic bodies in question are ~ Asansol, Raniganj, Jamuria, Kulti, Bally, Rajarhat-Gopalpur and Bidhannagar. Of them, while the elections to first five civic bodies are long overdue; in case of Rajarhat-Gopalpur and Bidhannagar the current boards would exhaust their term in June.

Going by Section 36 (3) of the West Bengal Municipal Elections Act of 1994 and Section 8 of the West Bengal State Election Commission Act of 1994, state government should first notify the poll date and this has to be followed with a matching notification from the SEC detailing the entire election schedule.

In this case, the SEC can straightway notify the poll schedule citing the High Court directive, an election expert said.

But whether the poll panel will finally issue a poll notification bypassing the state government would depend on the outcome of the Supreme Court proceedings on Tuesday.

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