Supreme Court Admits Petition Seeking Imposition Of President’s Rule In Bengal Due To Continuing Post-Poll Violence

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The SC bench, while admitting the petition seeking imposition of President’s Rule in Bengal, issued notices to the union government, the Bengal government and the Election Commission of India.

The Supreme Court has admitted a petition seeking imposition of President’s Rule in Bengal due to the deteriorating law and order situation in the state caused by continuing post-poll violence against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and supporters by Trinamool goons.

The petitioners—Uttar Pradesh-based lawyer Ranjana Agnihotri and social worker Jitender Singh—also sought direction to the union government to deploy central paramilitary forces to aid the administration in restoring normalcy and preventing internal disturbances.

The public interest litigation (PIL), filed by advocate Hari Shankar Jain before an SC bench comprising Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari, pleads for the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the reasons for post-poll violence in Bengal and fix responsibility for such violence.

The SC bench, while admitting the petition, issued notices to the union government, the Bengal government and the Election Commission of India.

The petitioners have pleaded for an award of compensation to the victims of post-poll violence after ascertaining the losses sustained by them.

The bench, however, did not issue a notice to Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, the fourth respondent named by the petitioners.

Advocate Jain submitted that the PIL had been filed due to the extraordinary circumstances prevailing in Bengal where thousands of people were being terrorised, penalised and tortured by Trinamool workers for supporting the BJP in the Assembly polls.

“The petitioners are espousing the cause of thousands of citizens of West Bengal who are mostly Hindus and are being targeted by Muslims to take revenge for supporting BJP as they want to crush Hindus so that for years to come the power may remain with the party of their choice,” the petition read.

The petitioners sought a directive from the apex court to the union government to exercise powers under Articles 355 and 356 of the Constitution since the deteriorating law and order situation in Bengal posed a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India.

The petitioners said that immediately after the declaration of poll results on 2 May, Trinamool workers and supporters started creating chaos and unrest, setting houses and properties of Hindus on fire and looting and plundering their belongings. At least 15 BJP workers and supporters had lost their lives in the post-poll violence, and a number of them had sustained serious injuries.

“The government and the administration remained silent spectators and no protection was provided to the victims by them. The government, officials and the administration and the police are supporting workers of the Trinamool, due to which life, liberty, prestige, dignity and modesty of women are being taken away as is evident from the fact that a number of persons were harmed and mercilessly murdered and no steps were taken for their safety,” the petition said.

The petition also alleged that the Trinamool contested the polls “purely on a communal basis arousing the feelings of Muslims and appealing to them to remain united and vote for their party for their better future”.

Though the BJP complained to the Election Commission of India (ECI) against the communal appeal made by the Trinamool, the ECI failed to enforce the mandatory provisions of Section 123 of the Representation of Peoples Act to conduct the polls in a free and fair manner.

“The ECI remained a silent spectator and the provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act was flagrantly violated,” the petitioners said, adding that “illegal Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingya Muslims have been registered as voters without making any proper scrutiny and enquiry”.

The SC is already hearing a few petitions on post-poll violence in Bengal. Some of these petitions plead for the setting up of a probe by an independent Supreme Court-monitored agency into killings, assaults and displacement of BJP workers and supporters.

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