SC junks BJP leaders plea seeking Central forces in WB local polls

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The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain a plea by BJP leaders seeking a direction to deploy central paramilitary forces for municipal polls in West Bengal.

“Sorry. We are not inclined to entertain this petition,” a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant told senior advocate P.S. Patwalia, representing BJP leaders Pratap Banerjee and Mousumi Roy, who had cited reports of widespread violence during the previous phase of the elections.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, tried to intervene in the matter.

As he submitted that in the Tripura case, his opinion was sought and the authorities concerned abided with the orders of deployment of central forces, and “we can do that here too”, but the unmoved bench said: “No, thank you.”

Patwalia pressed that wide scale violence and irregularities were reported during previous phases of municipal elections. Seeking deployment of central forces, he submitted additional forces will help in ensuring free and fair elections.

He argued that the high court was not correct, asking the State Election Commissioner to examine the ground situation and then decide on taking a call on deployment of central forces.

During the hearing, it was also alleged that the State Election Commission was biased towards the ruling Trinamool Congress.

The BJP leaders moved the Supreme Court challenging the Calcutta High Court directing the State Election Commissioner to examine the ground situation in the 108 West Bengal municipalities going to polls on February 27. The high court added that after examining the ground situation, the State Election Commissioner should take a decision on deployment of central paramilitary forces.

In November last year, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to deploy two additional companies of central paramilitary forces in Tripura as expeditiously as possible for municipal election polling. The top court, which passed the direction on the Trinamool’s plea, emphasised that it should be ensured that every polling booth is manned by paramilitary forces to ensure free and fair elections.

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