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Calcutta HC asks EC to reply within 24 hours on CM bypoll

The bench questioned why the election date was announced only for Bhowanipore when several others had been pending for months
Calcutta High Court
Calcutta High Court
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Our Legal Reporter   |   Calcutta   |   Published 24.09.21, 02:00 AM

The high court on Thursday questioned the manner in which the Election Commission announced its decision to hold the bypoll to the Bhowanipore seat based on a request from the state administration.

Following a petition by advocate Sabyasachi Chatterjee, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj asked the EC to file an affidavit within 24 hours stating the law that empowered it to act according to a written request of chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi for this bypoll.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is pitted against the BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal in the September 30 bypoll. Mamata has to win it to stay as CM.

Mamata had lost from Nandigram to the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari in the Assembly polls.

When the petition seeking judicial intervention in alleged irregularities on the part of the EC in declaring bypoll only to the Bhowanipore Assembly constituency came up for hearing on Thursday, the bench questioned why the bypoll date was announced only for Bhowanipore when several other bypolls had been pending for months.

Petitioner Chatterjee told the court that the poll panel, while notifying the election dates, had stated that chief secretary Dwivedi, in a written request to the EC, stated that the state would face a constitutional crisis if the bypoll in Bhowanipore was not held within six months of the last Assembly polls as the chief minister had expressed her desire to contest from the constituency.

“The para 7 of the notification said that on the basis of chief secretary’s request it (the commission) had decided to hold the bypoll in Bhowanipore on September 30," Chatterjee added.

The petition was moved a week ago when the bench had adjourned the hearing of the case asking the lawyer why it took him days to approach the court after the poll panel issued its notification.

Against this backdrop, the court’s directive to the poll panel to file its affidavit within 24 hours surprised the legal circles.

However, Opposition parties in Bengal had been raising questions right after the Bhowanipore bypoll date was announced by the commission.

When contacted, senior advocate and CPM MP Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya, who argued the case on behalf of the petitioner, said: “The other vital point that I have referred is that such a notification might influence people in casting vote in favour of Trinamul Congress candidate as they would feel that a constitutional crisis would be created if they do not vote for the chief minister.”

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