Supreme Court declines early hearing to BJP plea on stalled Bengal rath yatras

The Supreme Court on Monday declined a request by the BJP to hear its plea against the Calcutta High Court’s order staying its rath yatras in West Bengal.

The BJP had moved the Supreme Court asking for an urgent hearing on Wednesday. Turning down the request, the court said that the BJP’s petition would now be heard after the court reopens on January 2.

On December 22, a divisional bench of the Calcutta High Court had put on hold the order by a single-judge bench allowing the party to hold three rath yatras in the state. The BJP had planned to flag-off its first rally from the temple town of Tarapith in Birbhum district.

The BJP’s initial plan was to begin its rath yatras in the state from December 7.

Refused permission by the state government, the BJP had moved the Calcutta high court.

After hearing an appeal by the BJP, a single-judge bench of the high court had on Thursday allowed the mega event, to be flagged off by BJP president Amit Shah under a re-scheduled programme from December 28 to 31.

However, a day later, a two-judge bench of the same court had stayed the court’s permission.

Now, with the court refusing to hear the BJP’s request for an early hearing, the party will not be able to take out its rath yatra before January 2 when the court will reopen in the next year.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Congress MP and senior advocate, appearing for the West Bengal Police had argued that the single-judge bench had not studied the intelligence reports submitted in a sealed envelope before passing its order.

Singhvi said the reports are detailed ones in which police had mapped out the route the yatra was supposed to take and had undedertaken a thorough risk analysis.

On Friday, the division bench of Chief Justice Debasish Kar Gupta and Justice Shampa Sarkar observed that the single-judge bench has to go through the reports to pronounce an objective order.

“The division bench has not disallowed the yatra. Our legal battle will continue. So will our agitation and programmes in different districts,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh had said.

“The state government wants to block the programme by hook or by crook. Therefore, we have called our rally a ‘Save Democracy’ rally,” added BJP Bengal unit vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar.

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