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Calcutta High Court reserves Judgement on Bhabanipur By-Polls

The Calcutta High Court, on Friday, reserved its judgment on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) questioning the Election Commission of India (ECI) on its constitutional urgency for holding By-polls for Bhabanipur Assembly Constituency in South Kolkata.

Following a petition by advocate Sabyasachi Chatterjee, Calcutta High Court on Thursday raised questions regarding the manner in which the Election Commission announced the dates to hold By-polls in the assembly constituency of Bhabanipur on the request of the West Bengal government. The PIL was filed by advocate Sabyasachi Chatterjee in which the division bench of the Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj asked the Election Commission to file an affidavit within a timeframe of 24 hours stating the law that empowered it. The hearing was concluded on Friday and a division bench comprising of Acting Chief Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj reserved its judgment on the matter.

The Election to the high-profile Bhabanipur seat is scheduled for 30th September in which West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting as All India Trinamool Congress candidate. She is taking on BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal. The petitioner further claimed that the Election Commission of India (EC), in a press note, said that they have decided to hold the By-polls for the Bhabanipur seat “considering the constitutional exigency and special request from the State of West Bengal.” Pointing out to the unbiasedness of EC, the petitioner said Court needed to interfere in the matter.

Election Commission on its defense said that the petitioner is attempting to mischaracterize the word constitutional exigency, maintaining that there can be no possibility of the same being constructed as an influence on voters. Claiming that the state has no role in the decision to hold the By-polls in Bhabanipur and that it is the sole duty of the EC, the West Bengal government had on September 13 submitted before the court that the chief secretary had only written to EC requesting that the By-polls be held and that the commission had accepted the request.

Mamata Banerjee, who had earlier shifted from her traditional seat of Bhabanipur to Nandigram was defeated by TMC turncoat and BJP candidate- Suvendu Adhikari in the recently concluded Assembly Elections. As per the constitution, she needs to be elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) within a span of 6 months in order to retain her Chief Minister’s chair.

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