SC permits notification of uncontested seats in WB panchayat polls (11:36)

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New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) In a boost to ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Supreme Court on Friday permitted the notification of the results of 20,159 uncontested seats in the recently held West Bengal panchayat polls and also ruled that there was no provision for the filing of e-nomination in the West Bengal Elections Act 2003.

Taking recourse to its plenary powers under Article 142, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, however, permitted the aggrieved candidates who could not file their nomination papers in the seats that went uncontested, to move the election tribunal within 30 days.

The court exercised its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution permitting aggrieved persons to raise an election dispute. It noted that Section 79(1) of the West Bengal Panchayat Election Act, 2003 provides that the validity of an election could be challenged within 30 days of the declaration of the result.

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“Any dispute in regard to the validity of the election has to be espoused by adopting a remedy which is known to law namely through an election petition. It is at the trial of an election petition that factual disputes can be resolved on the basis of evidence”, the court said.

Holding that the validity of the elections must be tested in election petitions under Section 79(1) of the West Bengal Panchayat Elections Act, 2003 , Justice Chandrachud said, “The question as to whether there was a large-scale obstruction from filing nominations is a serious matter which needs to be resolved.”

“This is particularly because even the Election Commission, as we have seen, had proceeded to take notice of the grim situation while extending the date for the filing of nominations”, Justice Chandrachud said.

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Both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist had alleged that the ruling party had obstructed their nominees from filing nomination papers.

Setting aside the judgment of the High Court permitting filing of e-nominations, the top court said: “We are of the view that the High Court was in error in issuing directions for the acceptance of nominations in the electronic form.”

Finding fault with the High Court’s direction permitting e-nominations, the top court noted that the High Court had issued the direction at a time when election process had already commenced and the last date of filing nomination too was over.

Of the 20,159 uncontested seats, 3,096 seats — 36.1% — of the 16,860 seats were of gram panchayats, 33.5% were of Panchayat Samitis and 24.6% were of Zila Parishads.

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Overwhelming number of these uncontested seats were bagged by the ruling All India Trinamool Congress.

–IANS

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