SC Refuses To Entertain West Bengal BJP's Plea For Deployment Of Central Forces For Kolkata Civic Polls
The Supreme Court today refused to entertain a plea from the BJP seeking a direction to the West Bengal government, state election panel and other functionaries to prepare a comprehensive action plan and deploy sufficient central police forces to ensure free and fair municipal polls in Kolkata.
A Bench comprising of Justice L Nagesara Rao and Justice B R Gavai asked the state BJP to withdraw the plea and move the Calcutta High Court with its grievances and relief that more central forces be deployed for smooth and fair conducted of the civic polls in the state capital on December 19.
Following the notification of the civic polls and the BJP finalising its list of candidates for it, the party's nominees have been threatened and pressured, Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, who appeared for the West Bengal BJP, said.
He also said that though complaints have been lodged, no FIR has been registered, so far, by the state police.
"Why 32 (under Article 32 of the Constitution, a petition is filed directly in the Supreme Court)", the Bench asked, adding that a petition should have been filed in the High Court, which is more aware about the security and other local aspects.
"The problem is if we start taking this on 32, there would be no end", the Bench said, leading to withdrawal of the plea by the West Bengal BJP to move the High Court.
The Apex Court, on December 7, had agreed to hear the BJP's plea seeking a direction to the West Bengal government and others to prepare a comprehensive action plan and deploy sufficient central police forces to ensure free and fair municipal polls in Kolkata.
The Court on November 25 had directed the Union home ministry to provide two additional companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) to secure polling booths during the Tripura municipal polls after opposition TMC and CPI (M) alleged that their candidates and supporters were not being allowed to cast their votes.
The BJP, in its plea filed by its state president and MP Sukanta Majumdar, has sought a direction to "the state functionaries (West Bengal) to produce a comprehensive action plan and deploy sufficient central police forces to ensure that free and fair municipal elections are held in Kolkata".
The plea, filed through lawyers Aditya Sharma and Nachiketa Joshi, said that the BJP finalised its candidates after the West Bengal State Election Commission notified the elections to be held for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
"That pursuant to finalisation of the candidates by the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), various candidates have received threats and are being pressured to withdraw their candidature. Some of the candidates have reported that members of their family are being threatened", it said.
"... these threats and violence cast grave infractions on the constitutional mandate of conducting free, fair and democratic election," the plea said and referred to some complaints made by BJP candidates to authorities.
It said that there was a necessity to deploy central forces in the light of post-poll violence after the West Bengal assembly elections in May.
"Holding free and fair elections is a Constitutional mandate. Article 324 is a reservoir of power for the Election Commission to act for avowed purpose of pursuing the goal of free and fair elections and in this view, it also assumes the role of the advisor," it is stated in the petition.
The petitioner states that it is seeking adequate security development in light of the targeted widespread post-poll violence that occurred in West Bengal in May.
It is contended that representations have been filed with authorities and the Governor, seeking deployment of additional forces to ensure a fair and transparent election.
"This has been done in light of the fact that the candidates have been receiving threats from TMC goons which have been identified by the candidates. Candidates are scared for their life and are being pressured to withdraw their nomination", the plea said.
Deployment of central forces will aid and assist the state administration in conducting free and fair elections and this is necessary to ensure free and fair elections, the plea said.
"Conducting free and fair elections is inherent to the functioning of the democracy and therefore, free and fair elections form part of the basic structure of this democracy," it said.
Besides the state government, the petitioner had made the Home Secretary (Police), the DG and IGP and the Centre as parties.
With PTI inputs