Bengal Panchayat polls: HC rejects opposition’s petitions, asks SEC to discuss security arrangements

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Kolkata, April 24 (IANS) The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday disposed off the petitions filed by BJP, Congress and PDS)complaining about the West Bengal Panchayat poll nomination process but asked the State Election Commission to discuss the issue of security arrangements during the election with all the important stakeholders.

A single bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar disposed off the Bharatiya Janata Party’s appeal to further extend the nomination process over the alleged violence by the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress on the extended day for filing of nomination papers on Monday and said the court would not interfere in the election process.

He also disposed off the Congress’ petition that claimed the notification issued by the SEC for filling of fresh nomination was incomplete and faulty.

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The judge however asked the SEC to consult not just the state government but all important stakeholders including the opposition parties regarding the security arrangements during the coming rural polls and submit a detailed report regarding the arrangement before the High Court’s Division Bench.

However, he left it to SEC’s discretion to take the final call about the possible security measures to ensure free and fair election process.

The court also instructed the SEC to accept the nominations of nine prospective candidates of Jami, Jibika, Paribesh O Bastutantra Raksha Committee (Committee to Save Land, Livelihood, Environment and Ecosystem) in South 24 Parganas district’s Bhangar, which were submitted to the retuning officers through Whatsapp.

The nine members of the local body that has been spearheading the land agitation in the region were allegedly stopped from filing nominations by the state ruling party. Justice Talukdar pointed out that their nomination cannot be rejected by SEC on technical grounds.

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SEC said, according to the High Court’s previous order, it had already discussed the provisions of extended nomination day with all the state political parties and fixed the day for filing fresh nominations and clarified that it does not intend to hold any further discussions with the parties regarding the polling dates.

It also said it was addressing the security concerns raised by opposition parties as and when the complaints come.

Trinamool counsel Kalyan Banerjee noted that consultation with all political parties regarding the polling dates was not a feasible option as someone or the other might have objections on any date fixed by the SEC. He also pointed out that primacy about the election process rests completely with the SEC.

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The state opposition parties on Monday moved the Calcutta High Court accusing the Trinamool of unleashing unprecedented terror on their party activists on the extended nomination day for the rural polls on Monday.

The Calcutta High Court had on Friday ordered the SEC to make a fresh announcement extending the deadline for filing of nominations for the coming panchayat polls and finalise a new election schedule.

–IANS

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