‘What’s sauce for the goose…’: SC reminds Trinamool of its 2018 order on rural polls

Insight Online News

New Delhi, Dec 2 : The Supreme Court on Thursday reminded the Trinamool Congress its 2018 order, where it put on hold the Calcutta High Court order, directing the State Election Commission (SEC) to permit online filing of nominations by candidates for the rural polls in West Bengal, while hearing its pleas alleging violence in recently- concluded Tripura civic polls.

The Trinamool claimed hundreds of seats in the Tripura polls were uncontested and cited various incidents of violence. In August 2018, the top court, amid the allegations of violence, had refused to cancel polls on 20,000 uncontested West Bengal panchayat seats.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and Vikram Nath was hearing the plea of West Bengal ruling party’s in connection with violence in parts of BJP-ruled Tripura during the recently-held municipal polls.

Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, representing the Trinamool, submitted before the bench that despite the court’s best efforts, unfortunately, hundreds of seats went uncontested.

At this juncture, Justice Chandrachud cited a 2018 order passed by a bench comprising the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A. M. Khanwilkar and himself, in context of the West Bengal rural polls.

“I am sure you will have read that judgment where an identical allegation was made against your party in the gram panchayat elections in West Bengal,” he said.

He added that the Calcutta High Court had issued sweeping directions, which was set aside and the top court said normal law has to take its course.

“What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If you say there are seats uncontested, as a result of coercion or force or whatever, you have your remedies in law that you can always pursue,” Justice Chandrachud said.

Sankaranarayanan cited various incidents of violence, where the top court’s directions on their petitions were breached. He submitted that on November 11, the top court had passed fairly strong directions and there were photographs of attackers with helmets, candidates bleeding from the heads etc, yet nobody was arrested.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before the bench that a similar petition with regard to the poll violence in Calcutta came to the top court and it was sent to the high court.

“The High Court of Calcutta is looking into it. And the situation in Calcutta was much worse,” he said.

The top court noted that the election process is complete and the results have been declared, and emphasised that the court only intervened in the interest of free and fair elections.

It said regarding the prayers in the petition seeking setting up of SIT by a retired judge to examine the instances of vandalism and direction to take action on complaints of criminal activity, these issues can be addressed by the high court.

The top court has listed the matter for further hearing next week.

The bench was also considering a contempt plea moved by the Trinamool alleging breach of top court’s directions to conduct free and fair local polls in Tripura.

In May 2018, the top court had also restrained the West Bengal poll panel from notifying results of the nearly 20,000 odd constituencies where Trinamool candidates contested unopposed.

In August 2018, it turned down the pleas by the CPI-M and the BJP seeking cancellation of the polls on grounds of alleged obstruction in the filing of nomination papers, giving relief to the Trinamool whose candidates had won over 20,000 local body seats in West Bengal uncontested.

The top court, while refusing to set aside the elections to the uncontested seats in the violence-marred panchayat polls, cited settled legal principle and added after the election process commenced, it is “trite law” that it should not be interdicted mid-stage.

IANS / AGENCY

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