NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Calcutta High Court’s order asking the West Bengal poll panel to accept nominations through e-mail for the rural polls, describing as worrying both the electronic filing and nearly 17,000 candidates of the ruling TMC winning unopposed.
Simultaneously, the State Election Commission (SEC) announced that the panchayat polls will be held on May 14, ending days of uncertainty.
The apex court, while refusing to stay the poll process, said the elections should be conducted in a “free and fair” manner keeping in view the concept of purity of elections in a democracy.
It also directed the SEC not to declare those candidates who have won unopposed as winners. The ruling Trinamool Congress welcomed the order, saying the opposition’s intention to postpone the polls has been “defeated”.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud stayed the Calcutta HC’s order which had directed the SEC to accept the nomination papers submitted via email by 3 pm on April 23.
The order came on a petition filed by the SEC challenging the Calcutta HC’s order. SEC secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told reporters in Kolkata that the counting of votes will take place on May 17 and repolling, if any, will be held the day before.