Calcutta HC proposes to recommend deferment of LS polls in Baharampur

What is the use of conducting polls "when two sets of people are unable to reconcile themselves to a six or eight-hour programme": Court

Calcutta High Court (photo: National Herald archives)
Calcutta High Court (photo: National Herald archives)


Expressing displeasure at clashes between two communities in Murshidabad district during the recent Ram Navami celebrations, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday, 23 April, proposed to recommend to the Election Commission deferment of Lok Sabha election in Baharampur.

Hearing two petitions seeking CBI and NIA investigations into the clashes on 13 and 17 April within the Baharampur Lok Sabha constituency in Murshidabad, the court said that if two sets of people are fighting when the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is in force, then they do not require any elected representative "because election will cause another problem."

During the hearing, a division bench presided by chief justice T S Sivagnanam proposed to "make a recommendation to the Election Commission of India that when people cannot celebrate an occasion in peace for eight hours, they shall not be entitled to elect their representatives to the parliament, so that the election to Baharampur constituency shall be deferred."

The polls are scheduled on 13 May.

The court asked what is the use of conducting elections "when two sets of people are unable to reconcile themselves to a six or eight-hour programme."

"If people can't live in peace and harmony, we will countermand the elections, we will say the Election Commission shall not hold parliamentary elections in this district," said the court, expressing displeasure at the events in Murshidabad.

While the court made this proposition verbally during the hearing, in the dictated order it said that it will consider how the matter is to be probed after an affidavit on the progress of probe into the incidents is filed by the state.

The chief justice said that as per news reports, around 33 programmes were held on Ram Navami in Kolkata, but there was no untoward incident.

Noting that both the petitioners were on the same page that no such incident occurred in those places in Murshidabad on Ram Navami earlier, the court asked whether outsiders were involved.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad's Kolkata area convenor Amiya Sarkar and the regional convenor of Muslim Rashtriya Mancha, West Bengal and Sikkim, S A Afzal, are the petitioners in the two PILs.

While the former prayed for NIA investigation, the latter sought both CBI and NIA probes into the incidents.

The court was informed by the lawyer of one of the petitioners that the first incident took place at Kamnagar under Beldanga police station on 13 April and the second one at Saktipur on 17 April.

In the order, the division bench, also comprising Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, directed the West Bengal government to file a report on the next hearing date in the form of an affidavit.

The court granted liberty to state and central investigating agencies to file their affidavits if they so desire.

"In the instant case we find a peculiar feature that both the writ petitioners have contended that in the past there has been no violence during Ram Navami festival and this is the first time such an incident has occurred," the bench said.

The court said it will consider how the matter is to be probed after the affidavit is filed.

It directed that the petitions will come up for hearing on 26 April.

Appearing for the state, senior counsel Amitesh Banerjee informed the court that the state CID has taken over the investigations into the incidents of 13 and 17 April.

He stated that both the clashes were caused by very small incidents.

The bench asked what the police were doing when the incidents took place in Murshidabad district with the MCC in force.

When the state's counsel submitted that the central forces were also there, the court asked what they were doing.

Appearing for the central government, Assistant Solicitor General Asok Kumar Chakrabarti submitted that the central forces were on patrol and were not engaged in controlling the crowd there.

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