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Councillors do not have faith, why do you wish to continue, HC asks civic body chairman

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

The Calcutta High Court on Friday asked the chairman of the Bongaon Municipality in West Bengal to explain why he was trying to hold on to his chair when the majority of the councillors do not want him to continue in the post.

Justice Samapti Chattopadhyay, while hearing a petition challenging the process adopted for holding the confidence vote on July 16, took a note of the allegation that some councilors were allowed to cast their votes, while others were denied the opportunity.

"Why are you trying to hold on to the chair when the claim is that you do not have majority," the court asked the civic body chairman, Shankar Addhya of the Trinamool Congress.

Of the 22 members at the Bongaon Municipality, 11 of the BJP have moved a no-confidence motion against the chairman. The remaining 10 councillors of the TMC expressed confidence in Addhya.

Justice Chattopadhyay sought to know the reason for not allowing some members to cast their votes.

The West Bengal government produced the election officer's report, which said only one meeting was held on July 16, during which 10 TMC councillors expressed their confidence in the chairman.

The government counsel claimed that the election officer, after completing the meeting, met nine BJP councillors, who signed the no-confidence motion brought by 11 members of the party.

The state counsel claimed that the BJP's motion was not passed in the resolution of the municipality.

Justice Chattopadhyay adjourned hearing in the matter till July 22.

Claiming that majority of the councillors in the 22-member municipality passed a resolution expressing no-confidence in its chairman Shankar Addhya, 11 BJP councillors petitioned the high court on Thursday, seeking his removal.

The court had earlier given them the liberty to move a no-confidence motion against the chairman as per statutory provisions of West Bengal Municipalities Procedure and Conduct Rules, 1995.

The petitioners claimed they gave representation to the sub-divisional officer of Bongaon and the district magistrate of North 24 Parganas, stating that they were going to hold a no-confidence meet as per the direction of the court on July 16.

Debjani Dasgupta, the counsel for the petitioners, had said on Thursday that the BJP members were initially prevented from entering the municipality office premises on the appointed date by police and people owing allegiance to the Trinamool Congress.

"Later in the day, they were able to hold the meeting and voted in favour of a no-confidence motion against the TMC chairman by a majority of 11 to 10 votes," she said.

The councillors claimed that the chairman was illegally holding the post, despite having lost the confidence vote. They prayed for an order directing adoption of a resolution to remove Addhya as chairman or for holding the motion anew.

Bongaon, a town along the Indo-Bangladesh border in North 24 Parganas district, witnessed violent scenes on Tuesday, with the TMC and BJP supporters clashing with each other in front of the municipality office.

Both the parties claimed to have won the trust vote. The administration, however, was yet to declare the results.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, July 19 2019. 19:05 IST