‘Fed up’ with the seemingly unending tussle over the rural polls between the State Election Commission (SEC) and the Mamata Banerjee government, the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, Arun Mishra, couldn’t conceal his relief on Wednesday when he was informed that the poll panel has approached the Supreme Court over the matter.
“I am happy that this case has moved to the Supreme Court. I am happy that there would be a verdict now,” Chief Justice Mishra remarked.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi had directed counsel of the SEC and the state government on Tuesday to calculate the number of forces required, forces in hand and the shortfall if the polls are held in four phases as suggested by the state government.
When the matter came up for hearing at around 10.30 am the court was informed that even if polls were held in four phases, the state government, which had been assuring since the beginning that it would be able to provide adequate security, would fall hopelessly short of security forces. The judges proposed a regrouping of the districts in the four phases so that the shortfall could be minimised. “Phase II has the maximum deficit of forces and phase four has no deficit. If some of the districts could be regrouped then the gap in forces could be equalised in all the phases,” Justice Bagchi proposed.
Counsels on both sides were asked to discuss the matter with their respective clients and come back after two hours when the Bench was supposed to hear the matter again. High drama, however, followed when the matter came up at around 12.30 pm. SEC counsel Samaraditya Pal informed the court that the poll panel has moved the apex court and the matter has been taken up there. “This is disgraceful. It is unexpected,” exclaimed government pleader Ashok Banerjee attacking the SEC counsel.
SEC advocate LC Bihani shouted back at the top of his voice: “Mind your language. You cannot use word such words in the court. Moving the apex court cannot be termed as disgraceful.” “I would urge the court to initiate contempt proceedings against Banerjee,” Pal said.
Advocate General Bimal Chatterjee added voice to the row and said: “I am shocked. Enough is enough.” At this stage Chief Justice Mishra intervened and snubbed the state’s panel of advocates saying: “Even we are shocked. You are right. Enough is enough.” On May 10, soon after the Single Judge Bench of Justice Biswanath Somadder gave an order in favour of the SEC, the state government appealed before the Division Bench on May 13. The matter was dragging on in the Division Bench since then.
“Entire India is watching this matter. Enough is enough. We are fed up with this. This is an unholy matter,” remarked the Chief Justice before the hearing ended on Wednesday.