The Supreme Court on Friday stayed for two weeks a Calcutta High Court order reviving 14-year-old criminal cases against SK Supian, who is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s election agent.
The top court’s order, which counters that issued by the High Court on March 5, comes less than 24 hours before the start of the first phase of Assembly elections.
SK Supian had been named in FIRs (first information reports) relating to violence at Nandigram between 2007 and 2009 – this was over a failed project of the then state government to acquire land for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The protests fueled Ms Banerjee’s rise to power in 2011, on the back of the “Ma Mati Manush (Mother, Motherland and People)” slogan.
The FIRs were withdrawn by the Trinamool last year, before being re-opened by the High Court on the basis of a PIL (public interest litigation) filed on March 5.
Mr Supian had approached the Supreme Court for relief, stating that the FIRs hindered his ability to carry out his work as an election agent – the person legally responsible for a candidate’s campaign. He further said that the PIL was “politically motivated” and were passed without due process.
Ms Banerjee is contesting a high-profile, high-stakes contest against former Trinamool (now BJP) leader Suvendu Adhikari from the Nandigram seat. Voting for this seat is on April 1.
The top court had agreed to hear the matter on an urgent basis.
However, it has also said that the final decision on this matter would be taken by the High Court.
Bengal votes over eight phases starting Saturday, with results due May 2.
The battle for control of the state has seen a vicious campaign fight between the ruling Trinamool and the opposition BJP, with the Congress-Left alliance expected to finish a distant third.