The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted BJP’s Barrackpore candidate Arjun Singh protection from arrest till May 28 to enable him to participate in the counting of votes on Thursday.
A vacation bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah, which took note of the indefinite strike by lawyers in West Bengal, granted the relief to Singh who has been charged with around 20 criminal cases.
The bench clarified that once the protection ends, he will have to seek bail from the competent court.
Appearing for Singh, Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar contended that the state police, acting out of political vendetta, had lodged about 20 cases against him to ensure that he is not able to attend the counting of votes.
“If I go back without protection, I will be arrested. Tomorrow I have to be present at counting,” Kumar said. He also drew the attention of the court to the ongoing lawyers’ strike in Kolkata.
During the hearing, the Bench also referred to the post-election violence in the state. After having dictated the order, Justice Mishra remarked: “People who indulge in arson and rioting do not belong to a party. They join the party in power to commit violence.”
A four-time MLA, Singh recently parted ways with the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress and joined the BJP.
Counsel for the West Bengal government said that cases for rioting and arson were lodged against Singh.