Calcutta, July 17: S.R. Upadhyay, who will succeed Mira Pande as Bengal election commissioner, will face the neutrality test immediately after assuming charge as the panel’s lawyers told Calcutta High Court today that it was in favour of elections to 17 civic bodies before August 31.
Appearing before Justice Saumitra Pal, commission lawyer L.C. Behani said: “The court should ask the government to announce the elections to the 17 municipal bodies on July 31. The polls should be held by August 31.”
The Mamata Banerjee government has informed the court through an affidavit that it wanted the elections to the 17 civic bodies in June next year along with the polls to 81 municipalities and municipal corporations, including Calcutta.
The court had directed the state government to file the affidavit stating its position on the case after the commission, headed by retired IAS officer Pande, sought the court’s intervention in conducting timely elections to the 17 municipal bodies, whose terms ended on June 30.
Many officials wondered whether the commission’s stand would remain unchanged after Upadhyay, a retired WBCS officer, replaces Pande on July 21.
According to an official, the government is keen on the commission withdrawing the case and agreeing to the administration’s plan of holding the elections next June.
Till then, the government has plans of running the 17 municipalities and municipal corporations by appointing administrators. “It will be interesting to see whether Upadhyay buckles under the state government’s pressure or follows his predecessor,” an official said.
A senior Calcutta High Court lawyer said: “The case is lodged on the basis of Article 243K of the Constitution, which gives the commission the last word on civic elections. I don’t think it will be possible for the head of a constitutional body to defy the constitutional provision and withdraw the case.”