Calcutta HC asks poll body to consider postponing civic elections

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Kolkata, Jan 14 (IANS) Amid an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, the Calcutta High Court on Friday asked the West Bengal state election commission to consider postponing the election in four Municipal Corporations by at least four to six weeks.

The commission has been given 48 hours to come out with its stand on the matter.

The division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava was hearing a PIL filed by one Bimal Bhattacharya, who argued that considering the escalating Covid-19 situation, the civic polls should be postponed.

West Bengal is currently among the top contributors nationwide of the coronavirus cases.

The PIL was filed after the state’s poll panel announced that elections in four municipalities — Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and Chandannagar — would be held as scheduled on January 22, and counting would take place on January 25.

Elections are due in seven municipal corporations of West Bengal, including Asansol Municipal Corporation, BidhanNagar Municipal Corporation, Chandernagore Municipal Corporation, Durgapur Municipal Corporation, Howrah Municipal Corporation and Siliguri Municipal Corporation.

During the hearing on Thursday, the state government and the commission have tried to push the responsibility on each other.

Jayanta Mitra, the advocate appearing for the state election commission, had said that the commission cannot take the decision of stopping an election because it is the state’s responsibility.

“According to law, the commission cannot cancel a pre-declared election but if the disaster management act is implemented in the state, then the election will have to be cancelled,” Mitra said.

On the other hand, the advocate appearing for the state said that the commission only has the authority to cancel the election and the state has got nothing to do with it. The division bench asked both the state and the commission about their lack of coordination in this matter. On Friday, the court directed the commission to take the final decision on this issue.

–IANS

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