The Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the West Bengal Government and the State Election Commission (SEC) to file affidavits clarifying the reason why Howrah Municipal Corporation was excluded from a Notification for elections, wherein polls to Siliguri, Asansol, Bidhannagar and Chandannagar were declared.
State Advocate General SN Mookherjee submitted to the Court that he had mistakenly made a statement before a Division Bench presided over by Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava that a Bill with regard to the bifurcation of Howrah Municipal Corporation into Howrah Municipal Corporation and Bally Municipality had received the assent of the Governor.
The Bench had recorded in its order of December 23 the statement of the Advocate General about the assent having been received, which was later refuted by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.
A Vacation Bench comprising Justice Shampa Sarkar and Justice Bibhas Ranjan De on Thursday directed the State and the SEC to file affidavits by the next date of hearing before the regular Bench on January 6 stating the reason why Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) was excluded from the Notification dated December 28, in which elections to Siliguri, Asansol, Bidhannagar and Chandannagar were declared.
The State Government and the SEC had on December 23 submitted a proposal before the Division Bench presided over by Justice Shrivastava for holding elections to the five municipal corporations on January 22 and to the rest of the municipalities on February 27, 2022.
The Division Bench had earlier directed the State and the SEC to disclose a tentative time schedule for holding polls to the 111 municipal bodies where it is due at the earliest with a minimum number of phases.
The affidavits will also have to clarify whether the exclusion of HMC from the Notification would amount to a violation of the December 23 directions of the High Court and whether the proposal made was an eyewash.
The Petitioner's lawyer submitted before the Vacation Bench that the Respondents could not have gone back on the undertaking given before the Court on holding elections to the five municipal corporations on January 22.
It was submitted that the reason behind such action was motivated, mala fide and in order to favour a particular political party.
The Advocate General, appearing for the State, submitted that a proposal was made at the relevant point of time but the said proposal could not be taken as an undertaking or a statement before the Court that elections of all the corporations including HMC would be held definitely on the said date.
With PTI Inputs