Bengal BJP leader gets 7-day protection from arrest, told SC he has to be present for counting

BJP leader Arjun Singh

The Supreme Court Wednesday granted seven days of interim protection from arrest to Arjun Singh, the BJP candidate from Barrackpore seat, in cases lodged against him by the West Bengal Police. The court also ordered that no coercive action can be taken against the BJP leader till May 28, post which he will have to seek bail from an appropriate forum.

The West Bengal Police registered cases against Arjun Singh in connection with alleged poll violence in the state during the voting. State minister and Trinamool Congress s district president Jyoti Priya Mullick has accused Singh of inciting violence in Barrackpore. Mullick alleged that several houses and shops of TMC supporters were vandalised and ransacked by Singh s supporters.

A vacation bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah made it clear that Singh will not be arrested by the state police till May 28 in connection with around 20 criminal cases lodged against him. Allowing Singh to participate in the counting of votes on May 23, the bench took note of the statewide indefinite strike of lawyers in West Bengal.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Singh, said around 20 criminal cases have been lodged against him from April 4 to May 20 owing to political vendetta and to ensure that he remained away during the counting of votes.

"If I go back without protection I will be arrested. Tomorrow I have to be present at counting," the senior lawyer said, adding lawyers are on strike in Kolkata.

(With inputs from PTI)