The Supreme Court of India has dismissed public interest litigation (PIL), challenging the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to hold an eight-phase election in West Bengal. A Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian dismissed a petition stating that they disagree with the petitioner.
Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma filed the petition on March 1 and, the Supreme Court registered the same on March 2. In his petition, Advocate Sharma pointed out that conducting an eight-phase Assembly election in West Bengal when the state is not under any terrorist attack or a disputed war zone, therefore, is a clear case of violation of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution of India.
On February 26, 2021, the EC announced the dates of the upcoming Assembly elections in four states – West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam – and one Union Territory - Puducherry. Eyebrows were raised when the EC said that the West Bengal Assembly elections would have an eight-phase election and Assam in three phases. The EC also said that Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry would have a single-phase election.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also raised questions regarding the eight-phase elections, asking if “dates were announced as per the suggestions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah”.
Meanwhile, Advocate Sharma, in his petition, objected to the BJP using slogans of Jai Shri Ram for seeking votes and electoral gain. Reportedly, the petition demanded the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) file a case against the Union Home Minister and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari for allegedly creating disharmony.
“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 before an election or during an election and must prohibit from participating in the election,” Sharma said in his petition.
Advocate Sharma made the Election Commission, Shah, Suvendu and the CBI as respondents in the petition.