SupremeCourt to hear plea by West Bengal State Election Commission against Calcutta High Court order directing Central Forensic Laboratory to audit CCTV cameras used during Contai Municipality election to ascertain whether there were instances of violence and vote rigging
Court to WB SEC: You consented to audit.
Dwivedi, Sr. Adv: It was the counsel’s error milord. Somebody has to come to a prima facie finding that the footage has been tampered. Why forensic audit milord?
Court: It appears that there have been serious irregularities.
Dwivedi: No candidate or the elected have challenged the elections. It only pertains to 8 wards. The whole 82 wards I don’t understand.
Patwalia, Sr.Adv, for Somendhu Adhikari: The elections were held in three phases. They were conducted on the directions of the court.
Patwalia: There have been serious allegations of booth capturing, serious violence at the hands of the ruling government. We went to court asking for central paramilitary election, the HC in December,2021 told it was premature. The election took place.
Patwalia: The court on our prayer asks SEC to install cameras so that later on there can be audit. Court said cameras are there, we will see if there is a problem.
Patwalia: We went to the court 4 or 5 times. Our in charge of the party was detained for 1.5 hours in Contai. Journalists were assaulted. A minister’s son is seen threatening the voters. Out of 97 cameras 91 were destroyed!
Patwalia: EC says it is more or less fair/largely fair. They don't say its completely fair.
Court: What was the prayer in the PIL?
Patwalia: It was for canceling the polls.
Court: You can’t in a PIL substitute the validity of an election. We also at the interim stage in Tripura and WB directed to appoint observers and installing CCTV. Are you a candidate?
Court: This is an evidentiary matter. To the extent HC was making arrangement was fair enough. These orders were passed when the electoral process was on. Any challenge to the electoral process should be in accordance with law. Once results are declared its an election petition.
Court: HC can’t collect the evidence in the name of a PIL. At some point of time, sealed cover business is also very dubious. This will set a very dangerous precedent across the political spectrum. Election results cannot be challenged in a PIL.
Court: this will happen through out the country, parties which are not in power can approach the court under Article 226.
Patwalia: Counsel made a consent.
ORDER: We have heard, Mr. Dwivedi and Mr. Patwalia. The submission urged on behalf of SEC . The issue as to whether directions of the HC can substitute the procedure provided by the law needs to be analysed. We issue notice. STAY OF ORDER.
ORDER: Stay of PIL.
Supreme Court stays Calcutta High Court order directing forensic audit of CCTV camera used during Contai municipal elections