The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday imposed Section 144 in poll-bound Bhabanipur in West Bengal. This order will remain in force from 6.30 pm today till the end of the poll on September 30, the notification stated.
Earlier in the day, a BJP delegation met the Election Commission and had sought a series of measures to ensure free and fair elections as it accused the Trinamool Congress of using violence against its supporters. The BJP urged the EC to impose Section 144, a prohibitory order against gathering of five or more persons, on September 30, the polling date, and deployment of central forces for its compliance.
Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court today gave the go-ahead for the Bhabanipur by-poll, from where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting. The court said it does not want to interfere with the Election Commission’s decision at this stage.
The court, however, severely berated H K Dwivedi, the state’s chief secretary, for projecting himself “more as a servant of the political party in power than a public servant" by writing to the election panel seeking early by-poll in Bhabanipur to avoid a “constitutional crisis".
Fayan Sinha, the petitioner, had filed a PIL for quashing the EC’s decision to hold the by-poll on account of “misleading" submissions made by the chief secretary. Passing the order, a division bench presided over by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal recorded its “strong reservation" about the conduct of the chief secretary in writing the letter to the EC.
Bypoll to Bhabanipur was necessitated following the resignation of Trinamool Congress MLA Sovandeb Chattopadhyay so that Mamata Banerjee can contest from the seat which Banerjee won in 2011 and 2016 elections.
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