West Bengal Panchayat polls: Calcutta High Court asks SEC to announce fresh dates for nomination

Justice Subrata Talukdar held the April 10 notification of the SEC which was issued withdrawing the notification a day earlier extending the time by a day for filling nominations was illegal.

Published: 20th April 2018 05:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th April 2018 05:54 PM   |  A+A-

At least six persons were killed in poll-related clashes in West Bengal. (File photo)

Express News Service

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered the West Bengal State Election Commission to start the panchayat election process afresh including dates of filing nomination and conduct of polling.

Quashing the SEC’s April 10 order of revocation of extension of the nomination date, Justice Subrata Talukdar, in the 35-page order, stated that nomination dates have to be rescheduled as a result of which the election dates have to be rescheduled as well, citing Section 42 of West Bengal Panchayat Election Act, 2003 which states that there needs to be gap of at least 21 days between the last date of nomination and the first date of election.

Though the order accepted state government’s assertion that it has rights to decide the dates of election as it has to make elaborate arrangements for the same, the Calcutta High Court rejected the state government’s claim that it will not be able to hold the election during Ramzan or monsoon. The nomination for the election had earlier ended on April 9 and election was slated to be held on May 1, 3 and 5.

However, the court did not entertain or comment upon Opposition’s demands for removal of State Election Commissioner Amarendra Kumar Singh and conduct of election in the presence of central forces.

Opposition hailed the ruling as their moral victory. “It is a moral defeat for the Trinamool Congress and exposed the disability of the SEC, which failed to uphold its credibility by playing in the hands of the state government.

However, renewing the poll process and its dates does not mean that the terror unleashed by the state would end,” state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Choudhury said. “The historic ruling is an
attempt to save democracy in West Bengal and it is people’s victory,” BJP petitioner Pratap Banerjee said.

However, ruling TMC stated that the ruling foiled Opposition’s attempts to stall the election process and also exposed the ‘double-face’ of Congress.

“Court has foiled BJP, CPM and Congress’ attempts to stall the poll process. Court did not heed the Opposition’s demands for removal of State Election Commissioner, filing of nomination in presence
of police, demand to file nomination through emails and demand for central forces. The case has also showed that BJP, Congress and CPM are together. This means we have to rethink our relations with Congress on the national scene,” TMC lawyer and MP Kalyan Banerjee said.


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