Updated: February 26, 2022 5:43:14 am
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea by West Bengal BJP seeking deployment of central paramilitary forces for the February 27 elections to 106 municipalities in the state.
A bench presided by Justice D Y Chandrachud dismissed the plea by BJP leaders Mousumi Roy and Pratap Banerjee challenging the February 23 Calcutta High Court order, which had left the decision whether or not to deploy central forces to the State Election Commission (SEC), but did not elaborate the reasons.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta expressed the Centre’s readiness to grant the request for forces if the court directs. He referred to the November 25, 2021, order of a bench also headed by Justice Chandrachud to deploy additional central forces to ensure peace during local body polls in Tripura.
“Your Lordships have decided not to entertain this. But in the Tripura elections matter, the court had asked if the government can do something. I may submit that we have no problems in deploying the forces,” said Mehta.
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But the bench also comprising Justice Surya Kant was not inclined to entertain the BJP plea and went on to dismiss it.
Appearing for the appellants, Senior Advocate P S Patwalia said earlier too, the High Court had left it to the SEC to decide whether or not to deploy central forces for the initial phase of polling on February 12. The SEC decided against it and there was widespread violence and vote rigging, he contended.
Accusing the SEC of favouring the ruling party and government, and non-application of mind, he said the poll body relied on the official newspaper of the ruling Trinamool Congress to deny allegations of poll-related violence. The petitioners, he said, had brought on record newspaper reports on the violence.
“Incidents have been reported in the media of false voting, law and order situation has arisen. This was not a stray incident. The elections have been plagued with violence,” said Patwalia. But the state denied all the charges, he added.
“We pointed out there were five instances to show that the State Election Commission was perhaps leaning in favour of the state government. No application of mind by the State Election Commission in pursuance of 10 February order.”
“We said there are two schemes of the state government which were stopped and which have now been allowed to continue. In those schemes they are giving title deeds of land, various other benefits and therefore this also has wrongly been done,” said Patwalia, citing violation of model code of conduct.
“We have said one municipal council is a particularly sensitive municipal council as it is in Nandigram where the Hon’ble CM had contested and lost,” said Patwalia. “The State Election Commission surprisingly passes an order one day before our application was to come up that the EVM in that municipality will not have a seal. This order is impossible to understand.”
“The commission in its response relied upon a newspaper which is the official newspaper of the TMC to say there is no violence,” he said.
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