Plea to seek directions to EC to disclose by-poll dates in West Bengal filed in Calcutta High Court

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Calcutta High Court on Friday seeking directions to the Election Commission to disclose dates for holding by-poll elections in those vacant assembly constituencies in West Bengal.

The petition was filed by the petitioner, Advocate Rama Prashad Sarkar, and the matter has been listed to be heard on September 8.

“Representation of Peoples Act under Sec 150,151 states that elections/by-elections must be held within 6 months. We’re concerned why and what for the Election Commission is delaying the by-polls unnecessarily,” Sarkar asked.

“CM Mamata Banerjee took oath on May 5. My respectful submission before the Chief Justice is to kindly direct the Election Commission of India, Ministry of Home Affairs and State Election Commission to immediately disclose the dates for by-elections,” he added.

Meanwhile, The Trinamool Congress (TMC) in July had urged the Election Commission to conduct by-elections to fill seven casual vacancies in the State Legislative Assembly of West Bengal.

Notably, the general elections to the Legislative Assembly of West Bengal, 2021 were held in eight phases between March 27, 2021, to April 29, 2021, and concluded on May 2, 2021, with the announcement of results.

Prior to the announcement of results, due to the death of two contesting candidates, the polls to AC – 56 (Samserganj, Murshidabad) and AC 58 (Jangipur, Murshidabad) were deferred to May 16, 2021, by the Election Commission. However, thereafter the scheduled polls were deferred indefinitely by the Commission.

In the interregnum, five more seats in the Legislative Assembly, being AC 159 (Bhabanipur, Kolkata South), AC 86 (Santipur, Nadia), AC 7 (Dinhata, Coochbehar), AC 109 (Khardaha, North 24 Parganas) and AC 127 (Gosaba (SC), South 24 Parganas) have also fallen vacant for various reasons, including, death of successful candidate(s) and the resignation of elected members of the Legislative Assembly.

“Constitutional principles mandate that voters from the aforesaid assembly constituencies have the fundamental right to elect a representative of their choice to represent them in the Legislative Assembly of the State. In the circumstances, we call upon you to, forthwith, take necessary action and appropriate steps in accordance with the Act to fill the aforesaid vacancies caused in the Legislative Assembly for State of West Bengal, keeping in mind all government-mandated COVID-19 protocols and guidelines,” the TMC said in a letter to the EC.

The Mamata Banerjee-led TMC registered a landslide victory in polls winning 213 seats in the 294-member West Bengal assembly. Despite aggressive campaigning, the BJP lost the polls but emerged as the second-largest party with 77 seats.

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