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Calcutta HC refuses to accept EC affidavit, reserves judgment

On Thursday, the court had allowed the Election Commission to file an affidavit regarding the contents of a notification issued by it dated September 6 in view of the arguments raised by the petitioner.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
September 25, 2021 9:57:18 am
Calcutta High Court.

The Calcutta High Court on Friday refused to accept an affidavit filed by the Election Commission of India (ECI), pointing out that the poll panel “did not clarify the reason behind the constitutional crisis behind the bypoll”.

The court also reserved its judgment on a public interest litigation (PIL) plea questioning the Election Commission’s contention of a “constitutional exigency” for holding by-election to Bhabanipur Assembly seat here.

On Thursday, the court had allowed the Election Commission to file an affidavit regarding the contents of a notification issued by it dated September 6 in view of the arguments raised by the petitioner.

Recently, Chief Secretary Harikrishna Dwivedi, in a letter to the ECI, said there would be a “constitutional crisis” if the elections in Bhabanipur were not held as soon as possible. Based on the letter, the poll panel submitted a report before the court elaborating on why they had decided to hold the polls.

A Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj on Friday came down heavily on the Election Commission for filing the affidavit in an “incorrect format” and also observed that the affidavit “did not contain any specific averments pertaining to the issues raised.”

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed challenging the decision of the Election Commission to prioritise the September 30 by-elections in Bhabanipur Assembly constituency from where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting.

“Nothing is mentioned in the affidavit, who filed it? We cannot take this on record,” ACJ Bindal remarked. He added,
“Enough opportunity has been given. You are taking this very casually.”

While hinting at the resignation of the TMC MLA from Bhabanipur constituency, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, the court said, “In this seat, someone has resigned to make way for someone to win the seat and you are claiming there would be a constitutional crisis if bypoll is not held immediately. Why waste public money on that? We are not afraid to examine your decision.”

Senior advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, appearing for the petitioner, also contended before the Bench that such an affidavit must not be taken on record and pointed out to the Court that vital averments had not been affirmed in the affidavit.

“Is this the kind of affidavit that the highest constitutional authority should submit?”, senior counsel Bhattacharya remarked.

Accordingly, the Bench reserved its order on the issue as to whether the Election Commission can act on a
representation made by the Chief Secretary to expedite bypoll of a particular constituency.

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