A Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court comprising of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice R Bharadwaj on Wednesday directed the West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) to explore the possibility of holding the counting of votes of municipal elections after completion of polling in all civic bodies in the state.

The Court said that the SEC is expected not to declare the election to municipal bodies in a manner that will benefit one particular party.

The Court also directed the state and the SEC to submit before it a plan in the form of affidavits disclosing the tentative time schedule for conducting the election of all municipal corporations and municipalities in the state in a phased manner by the next date of hearing.

The order, which was made available on Thursday, was passed on a petition by the Bharatiya Janata Party seeking that the elections to all municipal bodies in the state be held on a single day.

The petitioner also prayed that if this is not possible, then simultaneous counting of elections to all municipal bodies be held so that the result of one municipality may not affect the election of another.

A Division Bench directed the SEC "to explore the possibility and feasibility of doing counting of votes of the municipal corporations/municipal elections after the polling is completed in all the municipalities."

The Court said that the SEC is "expected not to declare the election of the municipal bodies in the state in such a manner which will give benefit to one particular party."

The Bench directed that the matter will be taken up for hearing again on December 6.

The petitioner alleged that the state government is trying to hold at first the elections of the municipal corporations/bodies in the areas where it has a stronghold so that the result of those areas can affect subsequent polls in other municipal bodies.

The Court observed that it expects that the SEC will "duly keep in mind while preparing the plan for holding the election in a phased manner to ensure that fair, impartial and independent elections take place."

The SEC earlier declared that the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) poll will be conducted on December 19.

It had told the Court that elections of remaining municipal bodies/corporations will be held phase-wise keeping in view the availability of EVM machines.

The BJP's Counsel had earlier argued before the Court that the schedule for the KMC election on December 19 was announced despite the petition being pending before the High Court.

With PTI inputs