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Bengal: Polling in four civic bodies deferred till Feb 12

 
Kolkata, Jan 15 (IANS) Accepting the recommendation of the Calcutta High Court to defer the election due to the rising Covid cases in West Bengal, the state election commission (SEC) has cancelled the earlier dates, and announced that the election will be held on February 12, an official said on Saturday.

The commission had earlier announced that there will be elections in four municipal corporations including Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and Chandannagar on January 22, and the results will be announced on January 25.

Now, the elections will be held in all these four municipal Corporations on February 12, following the recommendations of the court. However, the commission is yet to announce the date of counting.

The decision to defer the election was taken after the state government wrote a letter to the Commission on Saturday morning that they do not have any objection if the SEC decides to postpone the election for another 4 to 6 weeks considering the Covid situation in the state.

Sources in the commission also indicated that they are keen to conduct the election in other municipalities at the end of February. Currently, elections in 107 municipalities and Howrah Municipal Corporation is likely to be held on February 22.

Sources in the commission also indicated that the poll panel might speak to the Disaster Management Department to decide the modalities and other aspects related to the election.

Sources in the commission said that as the nominations have been over so it will remain the same.

"The date of the poll has been postponed only. We will work on the other modalities and announce the details very soon," an SEC official said.

The decision to defer the election came after a PIL was filed Calcutta High Court pleading to postpone the election because of the Covid situation.

The PIL was filed by by one Bimal Bhattacharya, who argued that considering the escalating Covid-19 situation, the civic polls should be postponed.

The division bench of chief justice Prakash Srivastava hearing the PIL asked the state and the commission to file their affidavit regarding this.

During the hearing on Thursday, the state government and the commission have tried to push the responsibility on each other.

The advocate appearing for the commission Jayanta Mitra had said that the commission cannot take the decision of stopping an election because it is the state's responsibility.

"According to law, the commission cannot cancel a pre-declared election but if the disaster management act is implemented in the state, then the election will have to be cancelled," Mitra said.

On the other hand, the advocate appearing for the state said that the commission only has the authority to cancel the election and the state has got nothing to do with it. The division bench asked both the state and the commission about their lack of coordination in this matter.

On Friday, the court directed the commission to take the final decision on this issue. Now after the state's letter to the commission, the poll panel has no problem in postponing the election.

--IANS
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