Now, dilly-dally charge against govt over holding civic polls in 13 towns

A public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in Calcutta High Court on Wednesday alleging that the Trinamool Congress government is trying to delay the municipal elections in at least 13 municipalities whose tenure ends by the end of this month.

Lawyer Basabi Raichaudhury, who through his petition has urged the court to direct the state government and the State Election Commission to hold the elections in due time, has accused the state government of trying to run the civic bodies by appointing administrators. As a result, the democratic rights of the citizens living in those municipalities would be curtailed, the petition added. The PIL also urged the court to restrain the state government from appointing the administrators in the municipalities after the end of their tenure.

According to the petition, the 13 municipalities where constitutional deadlock will be created if the elections were not held in time are Burdwan and Gushkara in Burdwan district, Dubrajpur in Birbhum district, Alipurduar in Jalpaiguri district, Mekhligang and Haldibari in Cooch Behar district, Midnapore town in West Midnapore district, Chakdha in Nadia district, Panihati and Habra in North 24-Parganas district, Diamond Harbour in South 24-Parganas district, Balurghat in South Dinajpur district and Dalkhola in North Dinajpur district.

The PIL also accused the SEC of not exercising its power to initiate the election process in the 13 municipalities.

According to the legal provisions, the municipal elections are held under the supervision of the SEC, but it has not exercised its power till now, the petition alleged.

However, an official of the SEC said they had written letters to the government in March for holding the polls in the 13 municipalities, but the state government is yet to respond to it. The SEC is busy with the panchayat polls, so it would not be possible to initiate the municipal poll process right now, said the senior SEC official.

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