On West Bengal elections in 8 phases, a plea in Supreme Court
The Election Commission’s decision to hold West Bengal state elections in eight phases, the longest ever, has been questioned in a public interest litigation filed by a lawyer before the Supreme Court.
Lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma filed the petition on Monday and the same was registered by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The petition questioned the February 26 decision of the poll panel declaring eight-phase polling in West Bengal as against three phases in Assam, and a single phase in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry.
“Conducting election in eight phases while in single phase in other states, especially when West Bengal is not facing any terrorist attack or under disputed war zone…is a clear case of violation of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution of India,” read the petition.
Along with the issue of holding polls, the petition even urged the top poll body to take note of the “Jai Shri Ram” slogan being used as a religious tool by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to seek votes ahead of the polls.
The petition demanded the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register a case against Union home minister Amit Shah and state BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari for promoting enmity by raising the religious slogan.
Sharma asked the apex court to decide whether use of a provocative religious slogan “Jai Shri Ram” should be treated as an electoral offence under Sections 123(3) and 125 of the Representation of the People Act which does not permit a candidate or anybody associated with the election to promote feeling of hatred on grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language.
“Using the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’ is liable to be prohibited and whoever, individual or party or group of person of a party uses it prior to election or during election or thereafter must be prohibited to participate in election,” Sharma stated in his petition.
In addition, the petition included a prayer to debar the political party indulging in such actions
Elections will begin in West Bengal on March 27 and the results will be announced on May 2.