January 8, 2022 5:52:03 am
The Calcutta High Court has directed West Bengal State Election Commission to file an affidavit on a petition seeking postponement of the elections to four municipal corporations in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases across the state.
Nomination papers for the polls to Siliguri, Asansol, Chandannagar and Bidnanagar civic bodies on January 22 have already been filed.
During a hearing on the plea on Friday by a division bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Kesang Doma Bhutia, the state poll panel said it was ready to conduct the polls as scheduled. The court, however, directed the SEC to file an affidavit by Monday on whether it was possible to hold the civic polls in the prevailing Covid situation. The court is likely to announce its final verdict on Tuesday.
During the proceedings on Friday, Advocate General Soumendranath Mukherjee, representing the state government, said, “People are going about their business. Life hasn’t come to a standstill. Why should the elections be postponed then? However, the final decision in this matter will be taken by the West Bengal State Election Commission. The state is ready to extend all help to the Commission.”
Advocate and CPM leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, arguing for the petitioner, said, “In areas within the Bidhannagar Municipality alone, there are 23 containment zones. How will people come out to vote in this situation?”
The Bench then asked the counsel for the SEC to spell out its stand in the matter. Jayanta Mitra, the advocate representing the state poll panel said, “The Commission is ready to conduct the elections by complying with every single Covid protocol. It has already laid down guidelines to all political parties.”
The Bench then asked the Commission to file an affidavit by Monday and scheduled the matter for further hearing on Tuesday.
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