HC orders WB poll panel to reschedule Panchayat elections

Calcutta high court

A single-judge bench of Calcutta High Court will deliver its judgement on Bengal panchayat polls at 4.30pm on Friday after hearing on petitions by Opposition parties concluded on Thursday.

The state government and the TMC had objected to the extension on April 9, to which the SEC had cited a Supreme Court direction to "allay the apprehensions of intending candidates" in its notification extending the nomination process by a day.

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.

As the rules provide for 21 days' time between the last date of nomination and the first day of polling, the original polling days of May 1, 3 and 5 are likely to change. Justice Subrata Talukdar, however, had asked the petitioners at the very outset how long each of them would take to place their argument. The court has come forward to help the democratic process that is in peril in Bengal.

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The Trinamool Congress has earlier celebrated winning many seats unopposed in the three-tier panchayat election.

Trinamool advocate Kalyan Banerjee, however, said the court did not allow the BJP plea to remove the election commissioner and deploy central forces. It said nomination filing should be extended. The court has also asked the commission to give a new date to all political parties, who could not file nominations due to massive political violence in the state allegedly instigated by the Trinamool Congress.

However, SEC will have to announce a new schedule, following Friday's order. A bold step has been taken by Calcutta High Court today. Trinamool Congress has announced that it will not move to Division Bench against this order.

The CPM had also moved the Supreme Court on April 11 with an appeal to postpone the panchayat elections till the question of the filing of nominations by opposition candidates was settled.

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