A division bench of the Calcutta High Court on Friday came down heavily on the West Bengal government for sitting on the BJP's applications seeking permission for its rallies, and modified a single-bench order that deferred the BJP's programme in Cooch Behar till January 9 next year.
The bench of Justices Biswanath Somadder and Arindam Mujkherjee directed the state's Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and the Director General of Police to hold discussions with three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) representatives by December 12 and take a final decision on the issue by December 14.
The judges described as "astonishing and astounding" the silence maintained by the state government after the BJP submitted applications on October 29 seeking permission for the rally from northern West Bengal's Cooch Behar that was scheduled to be flagged off by the party's all India President Amit Shah.
Disposing of the BJP's appeal against Thursday's order of the single bench that put the rally on hold till January 9, the division bench observed that the single-bench could not have passed the injunction upon the petitioner and modified the ad interim order.
Acting on a petition filed by the BJP, the bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty had on Thursday refused to give permission to the BJP "at this stage' to hold the rally in Cooch Behar and deferred it till January 9 after the state government declined to green-light the programme, saying it could trigger communal tension.
Justice Chakrabrorty had asked the police superintendents of all districts to submit a report within December 21 on the event after hearing all BJP district chiefs.
The division bench said permission for political programme should not be given on the basis of political colour and questioned how the administration, on the basis of some apprehensions, could take a stand that the law and order could spiral out of control of the police if the rally was permitted.
The saffron outfit was scheduled to hold three "Rath Yatra" rallies on December 7, 9 and 14 from north Bengal's Cooch Behar, South 24 Pargana district's Gangasagar and Birbhum district's temple town Tarapith, respectively. The rallies were slated to cover all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.
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