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Court orders Beas poll before Feb 27
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

EC may file appeal

The Election Commission is weighing options and may move the Supreme Court against the order.

Chandigarh, February 22
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Election Commission (EC) to hold polling in the Beas constituency before February 27 when counting of votes polled for 116 of the 117 constituencies of Punjab is to be held.

However, counsel senior advocate M.L. Sarin told The Tribune that the commission was weighing options and may move the Supreme Court against the order.

I have already told the poll commission that it is a fit case for appeal, Mr Sarin said. A senior poll official said an appeal would be filed tomorrow.

Polling for the Beas seat was adjourned to March 11 in the wake of violence on January 29, in which one person was killed. Congress candidate Jasbir Singh Dimpa had moved the court, praying for a stay on declaration of election results on February 13 till polling was held in Beas.

The results of 116 constituencies, including Valtoha, where polling will be held on February 24, are due to be declared on February 27.

Mr Dimpa had also prayed that directions be issued to the respondents, including the Election Commission that, to hold polling on February 24 along with that in Valtoha.

While the Punjab Government had told the court that there was no security concern, the commission had said the circumstances that had forced it to postpone the voting still persisted.

Today, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain and Justice Rajive Bhalla, while directing polling before February 27, ordered the Government of India to provide adequate central para military forces for the same. It also directed the Punjab chief secretary and the DGP to ensure that the polling was peaceful, free and fair.

The order was passed despite stiff opposition by counsel of the commission. He said it would require at least a week's time-from the date of arrival of the forces to holding of the election. However, the court observed there was nothing to show as to why polling could not be held before February 27. It also observed that the commission should have passed a speaking order on the representation of Mr Dimpa for holding polling before February 27.

The court was informed by the home ministry that it was ready to provide the required 10 companies of para military forces to oversee the polling. In its order, the court said judicial review was part of the basic structure of the Constitution and the court could direct the commission to hold the election before February 27.

Intervening, former Punjab advocate general H.S. Mattewal said the state police could not be trusted to hold a free and fair election.

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