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Home / West-bengal / Bhowanipore: HC slams chief secy for behaving as 'servant of party in power'

EC announces pending bypolls

Bhowanipore: HC slams chief secy for behaving as 'servant of party in power'

September 30 vote on, EC announces dates for pending bypolls
A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj did not interfere in the poll process but admonished the chief secretary for behaving as a “servant of the political party in power.”

Arnab Ganguly   |   Calcutta   |   Published 28.09.21, 03:04 PM

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Bengal chief secretary, while dismissing a petition challenging the September 30 Bhowanipore Assembly bypoll, where chief minister Mamata Banerjee is seeking a re-election.

A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj did not interfere in the poll process but admonished the chief secretary for behaving as a “servant of the political party in power.”

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“The most offensive part is the conduct of the chief secretary, who projected himself to be more as a servant of the political party in power than a public servant, whereby he stated that there would be constitutional crisis in case election to Bhowanipore constituency is not held from where respondent No. 5 (Mamata Banerjee) want to contest election,” the bench observed.

“What constitutional crisis the government could face with one person losing or winning election, was not explained. How the Chief Secretary knew that the respondent No. 5 was to contest from Bhowanipore Assembly constituency? He was not a party spokesperson or a returning officer.”

On September 6, the Election Commission of India had issued a notification allowing only the Bhowanipore bypolls to be held while allowing 30 other Assembly seats across the country to remain vacant, following a special plea made by the Bengal chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi, claiming that the state would plunge into a constitutional crisis if the bypolls were not held from the seat which Mamata Banerjee had selected for herself.

The court reminded the chief secretary that his role was not to ensure any particular person to come to power.

“We record our strong reservation about the conduct of the chief secretary in writing a letter to the Election Commission stating that there would be ‘constitutional crisis' in case by-election to the Bhowanipore Constituency is not held. He is a public servant, who is to discharge his duties in terms of provisions of law, whosoever may be in power. He is not to ensure that any particular person should come in power and in the absence there would be constitutional crisis,” the bench observed.  

The court also observed that the information provided by the chief secretary was contrary to the situation on the ground regarding Covid-19 as the restrictions would be  in place till September 30, the day of polling. The court also said that the EC was misled regarding the flood situation in the state, as it was known to all that the state had received excessive rainfall.     

The court, however, declined to interfere in the September 30 poll process at the current stage.

On the larger issue of an MLA’s resignation from a seat leading to a vacancy (in the case of Bhowanipore Trinamul MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay’s resignation which led to the bypoll), the court will resume hearing on November 19 whether the public should bear cost of by-elections.

While the high court was going hammer and tongs against the state chief secretary, the Election Commission hurriedly announced by-polls to the remaining 30 vacant Assembly constituencies, including four from Bengal _ Khardah, Shantipur, Gosaba and Dinhata_ and three Lok Sabha seats, would  be held on October 30.



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