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Justice Chandrachud led Supreme Court bench says no to central forces deployment in West Bengal local polls

Senior Advocate PS Patwalia, appearing for the petitioner, argued before the Supreme Court bench that there were widespread reports of violence during the previous phases of elections. He had alleged that the State Election Commission was biased towards the ruling party All Indian Trinamool Congress.

Despite the large-scale violence witnessed in West Bengal during the previous local body polls, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the petition filed by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) party leaders Mousumi Roy and Pratap Banerjee seeking deployment of central forces in the West Bengal local polls.

According to reports, the Supreme Court bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant dismissed the special leave petition filed by the BJP leaders against the decision of the Calcutta High Court.

The Calcutta High Court had earlier declined to issue directions for the deployment of central forces for the upcoming elections to the 108 municipalities of West Bengal scheduled to be held on February 27.

The BJP leaders had filed a petition before the High Court stating that large scale violence and rigging of votes took place during the recently conducted municipal elections in West Bengal. They sought to deploy central forces for the upcoming elections to the remaining 108 municipalities.

The division bench of the Calcutta High Court had directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to assess the ground situation by gathering information about the conditions prevailing in the municipalities and consult Home Secretary and the Director-General and Inspector General to decide on the deployment of central paramilitary forces.

The High Court had noted that the State Election Commissioner would be held personally responsible for ensuring that there is no violence if it is decided that central forces will not be deployed in the state.

On Friday, Senior Advocate PS Patwalia, appearing for the petitioner, argued before the Supreme Court bench that there were widespread reports of violence during the previous phases of elections. He had alleged that the State Election Commission was biased towards the ruling party All Indian Trinamool Congress.

“The SEC relies on the newspaper “Joy Bangla”, the official newspaper of the Trinamool Congress. We had placed on record the reports of The Hindu, the New India Express etc. about the violence”, Patwalia had submitted before the Supreme Court.

However, the Supreme bench decided to dismiss the petition to observe that no central forces will be deployed during the urban body elections in the state of West Bengal.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta responded by saying, “Your Lordships have decided not to entertain this. But in the Tripura elections matter, the Court had asked if the government could do something. I may submit that we have no problems in deploying the forces”.

Rejecting the arguments, Justice Chandrachud said, “Thank you, Mr Solicitor”.

West Bengal has been seen widespread political violence by TMC in the last several years. Hundreds of BJP workers and leaders have been killed and many more attacked by TMC workers. The violence peaked after TMC won the assembly elections, and hundreds of people were forced to flee to neighbouring states due to the violence by TMC.

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