Plea on holding civic polls in one go: HC defers hearing

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday deferred the hearing in connection with the petition to hold civic elections in Bengal in one phase to November 29. In such a situation the State Election Commission is taking legal opinions whether the notification to hold the civic polls in Kolkata can be issued on Thursday.

The notification need to be issued on Thursday if the civic poll in the city has to be conducted on December 19 that was the proposed date of the civic polls in Kolkata and Howrah. The reason being a gap of minimum 42 days has to be given in between the date of issuing notification and the day of polls.

However, uncertainty looms large over the civic polls in Howrah on December 19. The Howrah Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2021 is yet to be signed by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and he has sought "further details for consideration of the same under Article 200 of the Constitution".

It needs a mention that Howrah Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2021 was recently passed in the state Assembly after Bally Municipality was separated from Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC).

A gazette notification has to be issued after the Bill is signed by the Governor besides settling the matters related to the reservation of the seats in the HMC area also has to be completed before the polls get declared. Since it is a time taking affair, it is being contemplated that the civic polls in Howrah cannot be held on December 19.

It needs mention that it was the BJP's petition seeking direction to the Bengal Government and the State Election Commission (SEC) to hold pending polls of all the urban local bodies in one phase. A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice R. Bharadwaj, said on Wednesday that it will hear the petition next on Monday (November 29).

On Tuesday, the State Election Commission stated before the Calcutta High Court that no notification to conduct the civic polls would be issued during the hearing of the cases in this connection. The pending civil polls in Kolkata and its twin city Howrah are supposed to take place on December 19. The court during the earlier hearing of PIL seeking that polling in all municipal bodies where it is pending be held together on a single day, directed that the State Government and State Election Commission to file affidavit in connection with the arrangements of the election. The next hearing was scheduled on Wednesday.

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