Polling in containment zones during last hour of polling: West Bengal State Election Commission

amidst the boom COVID-19 And omicron In matters of the state, the West Bengal State Election Commission on Wednesday said voters living in containment zones would be allowed to vote only during the last hours of voting in the upcoming civic polls.

Voters of the Containment Zone will be able to cast their vote between 4 pm to 5 pm on the day of polling. Municipal elections in Asansol, Chandannagar, Siliguri and Bidhannagar are to be held on January 22. A sharp rise in COVID-19 cases has been recorded in all the polling areas.

In view of the increase in COVID-19 infections in the state, the West Bengal government has decided to classify areas reporting high number of cases as micro-containment zones. According to the data released by the state government on Wednesday, there are 897 containment zones and micro containment zones across the state.

The SEC’s announcement comes in the wake of the Calcutta High Court’s decision to reserve judgment on a plea seeking postponement of civic polls in Asansol, Chandannagar, Siliguri and Bidhannagar in view of rising cases of COVID-19 in West Bengal.

Hearing the petition on Thursday, a bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bhardwaj said, “We will consider and pass orders. The order will be uploaded on the website.”

The court also took on record a report filed by the state government and the West Bengal State Election Commission regarding the COVID-19 situation in the four municipalities.

Senior advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, appearing for the petitioner, argued that the submissions of the State Government do not have much credence as the COVID-19 infection may spread despite such measures.

“If there is a gathering of people like this, there will be a possibility of spreading the Covid-19 infection,” he said.

At this point, the Chief Justice asked the counsel, “Once the election is notified, what is the scope for interference by the state?”