#Kolkata: Two days ago, the Election Commission of India (ECI) was severely reprimanded by the Calcutta High Court over the Bhabanipur By-Poll. The High Court asked the Election Commission to submit an affidavit to find out how the constitutional obligation surrounding a by-election was created. Upon receiving the affidavit, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice of the High Court Rajesh Bindal expressed extreme anger. In the context of the public interest litigation filed in the Bhabanipur by-election, the court asked, ‘Constitution and law obligation for one seat? How did the Chief Secretary write about the constitutional crisis? How can the Election Commission take action on the basis of the letter of the Chief Secretary? And after that observation of the High Court, the apprehension was created, then did the compliance with the schedule create complications in the voting in Bhabanipur? Finally, in the verdict of the case on Tuesday, the Calcutta High Court informed that the by-election of Bhabanipur center will be held according to the schedule. The Calcutta High Court is not interfering in the voting process.
The ruling Trinamool Shibir is naturally relieved after the High Court verdict. Earlier in the day, in the hearing of this public interest case, the Acting Chief Justice raised the issue of Bhabanipur and said angrily, ‘Is the constitution and the law so binding for one seat? One person will win the election and resign, and another will stand in his place! ‘
And last but not least, the High Court asked the Election Commission, ‘How much does it cost to hold a by-election?’ The lawyer of the commission was a little unprepared to answer that question. At that time, the lawyers of the plaintiffs said that it cost crores of rupees to hold by-elections. In that context, the Acting Chief Justice of the High Court raised the question, ‘Why should the people’s tax money be spent for a by-election? Why can’t the Election Commission give any answer to the court? ‘ In this context, the court said, it is necessary to find out whether the cost of this by-election can be arranged in any other way. However, the High Court did not comment on the matter in today’s verdict.
Incidentally, the statement issued by the Election Commission on the Bhabanipur by-election was written in paragraphs 6 and 7, ‘The Chief Secretary of West Bengal said, the situation in the state is now completely under control. The flood situation in West Bengal will also have no effect on the turnout. Under Article 164 (4) of the Constitution of India, if a Minister is not a member of the Legislative Assembly, his ministerial post resigns 6 months after the result of the vote. And if the highest office bearer is not appointed to that post, a constitutional crisis may arise in the state. The plaintiff Sion Banerjee objected to this very issue. He claimed that he had no plea to stop the polls, adding that the Election Commission should remove the Chief Secretary’s recommendation that there would be a constitutional crisis if by-elections were not held in Bhabanipur. The High Court observed in that regard, ‘The Chief Secretary has made a mistake.’