Conduct municipal polls in Bengal as soon as possible: HC

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Kolkata, Jan 29 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed that all steps should be taken to hold municipal elections in West Bengal as early as feasible since the terms of the councillors have long expired.

The court said that as far the date or dates for holding the municipal elections are concerned, the decision is to be taken by the State Election Commission and the state government in consultation with each other, fairly and judiciously, taking all logistic factors into consideration, so that a peaceful and an uninterrupted electoral process for the municipal bodies is undertaken.

Noting that the terms of the councillors of the municipal bodies in question has long expired, a division bench comprising justices IP Mukerji and Md Nizamuddin directed that 'all steps should be taken to convene and hold the municipal election as early as it is feasible'.

Passing the order on two PILs praying for a direction to hold elections to 106 municipalities and six municipal corporations in the state, the court observed that the issue pertaining to Kolkata Municipal Corporation is pending adjudication before the Supreme Court and hence is not under its consideration.

The division bench accepted the submission of the State Election Commission that the electoral roll for the municipal elections can only be finalised after the electoral roll for the West Bengal assembly elections in 2021 is finalised, observing that it has every reason to believe that it will be completed shortly.

SEC counsel Sonal Sinha submitted that at present the State Election Commission is undertaking the task of delineating constituencies and preparation of electoral rolls for the municipal elections.

She further submitted that the electoral rolls can only be finalised after the State Election Commission finalises the electoral roll for the West Bengal Legislative Assembly elections to be held in 2021 and when this task is over, the date or dates for holding the civic body elections would be decided.

Additional Advocate-General Abhratosh Majumdar, representing the state, submitted that the municipal and the state assembly elections cannot be held at the same time, because the entire administrative machinery of the state would be engaged in tackling the assembly elections, and that there would be an administrative problem in holding two elections simultaneously.

Bikash Bhattacharya, senior advocate appearing for the petitioners in both the cases, submitted that the term of the councillors of the municipal bodies has long expired, and that there is an urgent need to hold the civic elections.

He submitted that the administrative machinery required for conducting the municipal elections is many times smaller than what is required to conduct the assembly elections. PTI AMR SOM SOM