Central forces needed for peaceful poll in Bengal: SEC

Published: 02nd April 2013 05:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd April 2013 05:56 PM   |  A+A-


Disageeing with West Bengal government, the State Election Commission today told the Calcutta High Court that central forces were needed for holding panchayat poll peacefully.

Reading out correspondences between the state government and the SEC before Justice Biswanath Somadder, senior counsel Samaraditya Pal said the SEC had written to the state in September, 2012 stating that it needed central forces to conduct panchayat elections peacefully.

Pal was making submissions while moving a petition seeking cancellation of the panchayat election schedule announced by the state government.

Pal, who earlier read out the statutes under sections 42 and 43 of West Bengal Panchayat Election Act, said the state government in its reply to the letter ignored any mention of central forces and said that the state's police forces would be deployed for holding the polls.

If necessary, forces from other states would be procured, if available, Pal said reading out from the correspondences.

The Commission had replied that it could not depend on so many ifs and buts and that there was a huge difference between the assessment of the state and the Commission about requirement of forces for conducting the polls peacefully.

It also stated that in recent times, it was seen that largescale violence had been reported during college and school board elections in different parts of the state.

As such, in panchayat polls, where local issues are involved and elections are being held in such huge scale, the possibility of violence is also higher, Pal argued referring to the Commission's correspondence with the state.

It also said forces were also needed during pre-poll and post-poll days apart from polling days.

The number of personnel available in the state forces were not enough to conduct the polls peacefully and as such central forces were needed, the letters said.

Advocate-General Bimal Chatterjee and other senior counsels represented the state in the matter.

The state BJP has also filed a petition before the high court praying that sections 42 and 43 of the state Panchayat Election Act be declared unconstitutional.

Senior counsel Bikash Bhattacharya said he was representing Left Front constituents and wanted to be added as a party in the case.

As court timings were over, Justice Somadder adjourned the matter till Thursday when it will be taken up for hearing again.

The SEC in its petition claimed that Section 42 of the West Bengal Panchayat Election Act, which states that the state government is empowered to notify election in consultation with the commission, is unconstitutional.

The Commission also prayed that it be allowed to seek and deploy as many number of paramilitary and other central forces as it may feel necessary for holding the panchayat poll.

While the Trinamool Congress government wanted the poll to be conducted in two phases under the supervision of the state police, the SEC had proposed that it be held in three phases with the help of central forces.


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