Calcutta High Court refuses to interfere with bypoll schedule

Calcutta High Court refuses to interfere with bypoll schedule

KOLKATA: In a major jolt to the BJP — which had earlier questioned the need to hold bypolls in Bhabanipur on an urgent basis — the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition challenging the Election Commission (EC)'s decision to prioritise the by-elections in the Assembly constituency, refusing to interfere with the poll schedule. Thus, the by-polls in the Bhabanipur constituency, from where Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee is contesting, will be held on September 30 as scheduled earlier.

"As the process of election was initiated with the issuance of press note dated September 04, 2021 and the polling has to be held on September 30, 2021 we do not find it appropriate to interfere with the decision of the Commission to hold by-election to Bhabanipur Assembly Constituency at this stage," the court observed.

However, the Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj passed adverse comments against the state's Chief Secretary for writing to the EC, seeking to expedite the Bhabanipur by-polls.

Meanwhile, the court also refused to record any finding on the issue that an election petition may or may not be maintainable after the result of the Assembly is declared.

Earlier, a PIL petition was moved by Sayan Banerjee, through advocate Ankur Sharma, questioning the request made by the state's Chief Secretary to the Election Commission to hold the by-elections in Bhabanipur.

On September 6, the EC had issued a notification stipulating that the by-election would be conducted for the Bhabanipur Assembly Constituency on September 30, underscoring the exigency and special request received from the state's Chief Secretary to hold the same.

The Chief Secretary in the letter addressed to the Election Commission had mentioned that there would be a "constitutional crisis" if the by-elections in Bhabanipur were not held on an urgent basis.

The Bench will hear on November 17 whether people should bear costs of by-elections, which was necessitated following the resignation of TMC MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay to facilitate Mamata Banerjee's election to the Assembly.

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