Why should public bear cost of a bypoll, Calcutta HC asks EC – Times of India

Kolkata News

Calcutta high court (File photo)

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court on Friday wanted to know from the Election Commission why public should bear the cost of a bypoll thrust upon them.
“After the election, someone vacates the office for someone else to fight the polls. Why should the public bear the cost?” acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal observed while hearing a petition challenging EC’s decision to prioritize the Bhowanipore assembly bypoll, among others, because of “constitutional exigency”. The court reserved its judgment on Friday.
The observation came six days before the Bhowanipore bypoll on September 30 in which chief minister Mamata Banerjee is a candidate. The seat was vacant after poll winner Trinamool MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay resigned from the Bengal assembly to enable Banerjee to contest from there after she narrowly lost the Nandigram poll.
The division bench of acting Chief Justice Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj refused to take cognizance of the poll panel’s “short affidavit” to clarify the term “constitutional exigency” mentioned in its September 4 press release on the Bhowanipore bypoll.
On Thursday, the court had allowed EC to clarify paragraphs 6 and 7 of its press release mentioning the “constitutional exigency” and also a “special request” from the state for holding the Bhowanipore bypoll within six months.
The division bench came down heavily on the poll panel for filing a shoddy affidavit that didn’t address specific points in the case. Petitioner Sayan Banerjee had challenged the EC logic of “constitutional exigency” and also the “constitutional crisis and vacuum” plea that Bengal chief secretary H K Dwivedi had made in his letter to the poll panel while making the “special request”.
The bench pointed out that the affidavit didn’t mention whether EC had the power to act on the chief secretary’s representation on an impending “constitutional crisis” if the bypoll was not held.
“What role does the chief secretary have to be able to say that there will be a constitutional crisis if the chief minister is not elected within six months?” Justice Bindal observed.
EC’s counsel Sidhant Kumar said there was a “consistent practice” of the poll panel to act on representations made by political parties and constitutional dignitaries. Kumar cited instances in which EC took note of the opinion of a governor.
“So you are now equating the role of the governor with that of the chief secretary,” the acting Chief Justice observed.


Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/why-should-public-bear-cost-of-a-bypoll-calcutta-hc-asks-ec/articleshow/86494281.cms