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KOLKATA: Calcutta high court on Friday declined BJP appeal prayer seeking central forces for the Kolkata civic polls on Sunday, a day after Justice Rajasekhar Mantha did not accede to the BJP petition.
A division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj didn’t find “sufficient material” in the BJP appeal petition “which furnishes the ground for deployment of central paramilitary forces in the forthcoming Kolkata elections.”
The BJP moved the Supreme Court for urgent hearing Saturday, said BJP advocate on record Bikash Singh. The party had earlier filed a special leave petition in the apex court seeking central forces for the Kolkata civic polls. The SC had then directed the petitioner to take the plea to Calcutta HC.
The HC bench, while noting that “no concrete incident of violence has been pointed out till now”, did not rule out the sense of fear among the appellants. It directed the State Election Commission and the state to “reconsider” the security arrangement plan and “strengthen deployment” in polling booths.
The division bench passed the directive after advocate general S N Mookherji 18,000 of the total 27,000 Kolkata Police personnel and 5,000 of the 69,669 West Bengal Police personnel had already been deployed and some more could be provided on requisition.
The court took note of the submission of the additional solicitor general over sending of central forces within six hours and directed the SEC to take an “appropriate decision” in consultation with the state authorities based on the ground situation. “A decision in this regard has to be taken by the state authorities concerned and the SEC keeping in view of the ground situation,” the bench observed.
The court also directed the SEC to hold a meeting with the state over measures to build confidence among voters. It allowed the BJP appellant to submit suggestions over ways to hold free and fair elections. The Chief Justice held the SEC and the state accountable for holding free and fair polls and asked the authorities to file a compliance report on December 23.


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