Kolkata, May 8 (IANS) The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed the West Bengal State Election Commission to accept the papers of all Pacnchayat poll candidates nominated by the CPI-M who filed their nomination and submitted the same electronically to the Panchayat Returning Officers or the SEC within the extended deadline of April 23.
The division bench of Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice Arindam Mukherjee also directed that the names of such candidates be published in the list of candidates contesting the Panchayat elections in respect of the constituencies for which they filed their nominations.
The verdict came on an appeal moved by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) against the April 25 order of the single judge who had disposed off the writ petition filed by the party by holding “no orders of intervention are called for from this Court at this stage”.
The CPI-M petition had alleged that its nominated candidates on being prevented could not reach the office of the Block Development Officer (BDO) or Sub-Divisional Officer concerned to file their nomination.
A few nominated candidates who were able to return from the office of the BDO somehow managed to send their nomination through e-mail to the the SEC as well as to the Returning Officer.
The CPI-M argued that instead of refusing to accept such e-filing, the SEC should have allowed the intending candidates to file their nomination through that route.
The CPI-M had also argued that in terms of section 6 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 filing of any form, application or any other document with any office, authority, body or agency owned or controlled by the appropriate Government was permissible.
The SEC submitted before the court that it has received 25 e-mails containing nomination of 62 intending candidates nominated by the appellant-party.
The SEC counsel also said it has, in total, received 340 complaints from different intending candidates of being prevented from filing of nomination papers with their respective Returning Officers and all such complaints have been forwarded to different District Magistrates and BDOs for necessary action.
The SEC also contended thatt the West Bengal Panchayat Elections Act, 2003 and the Rules framed thereunder do not provide for acceptance of nomination papers being filed through e-mail and as such, the Commission has not accepted those nominations of intending candidates which were lodged by email.
He further contended that the nomination papers have to be either filed physically by the candidate or by his/her proposer.
Appearing on behalf of the state government, Advocate General Kishore Dutta argued that the 2003 Act does not provide for acceptance of filing of nomination by e-mail and no departure from the statutory provision should be made or allowed to be made by the SEC.