Bhabanipur by-poll to go ahead as scheduled: Calcutta High Court
The Calcutta High Court today refused to stay the Bhabanipur by-poll, ruling it will be held as scheduled on Thursday. The by-poll is crucial for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as she must win it to retain the top post. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) had questioned the Election Commission's decision to hold a by-election for the Bhabanipur Assembly seat.
Petitioner Sayan Banerjee had challenged the EC's decision, saying that West Bengal Chief Secretary's letter to the poll body was in violation of the provisions of the Indian Constitution. The EC, which had cited a "constitutional exigency" for its decision to hold the by-poll, said the petitioner was trying to mischaracterize the meaning of that term.
A bench, led by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, dismissed the petition to stay the by-election. The court, however, slammed the state Chief Secretary for writing to the poll body to expedite the poll, calling the letter "inappropriate."
Banerjee's party, the Trinamool Congress, won a thumping majority even though she lost her individual contest in this year's Assembly elections. She was defeated by the rival Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Suvendu Adhikari - once her close aide - in Nandigram. She has challenged his election in court. In 2011 and 2016 elections, Banerjee had contested and won the Bhabanipur Assembly seat.
According to the Constitution, a person must get elected as an MLA within six months of taking oath as a Minister. Banerjee took oath as the Chief Minister of West Bengal for the third time on May 5.
In Bhabanipur, Banerjee will face BJP's Priyanka Tibrewal, a 41-year-old Calcutta High Court lawyer and the party's youth wing leader. The Left Front has fielded Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Srijib Biswas for the by-poll while the Congress decided against contesting. The election will be held on September 30 and votes will be counted on October 3.