Bengal Panchayat polls: HC asks SEC to announce fresh schedule

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

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

The Court today discarded SEC's earlier notification dated April 10 in which the Commission withdrew a notice after extending the date for filing nominations.

There are several other stages between the nomination-filing day and polling day, including scrutiny of candidates' lists, withdrawal of nominations, publication of the final list of candidates and allotment of symbols.

A senior lawyer himself, Banerjee appeared in-person as the party vice-president, owing to an ongoing cease work at the high court.

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.

She said she welcomed the order because she and her party were "always for vote" and wanted to protect democracy. "However, we also have to look at people's inconvenience due to the heat in summer". We were in favour of polls.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

In the last few days, however, Ms Banerjee had attacked opposition parties accusing them of trying to avoid facing the people.

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The commission and the ruling Trinamool Congress opposed the petitions claiming that these were not maintainable since the election process had started.

The SEC had said it withdrew the April 9 notification following a letter of legal advice by Additional Chief Secretary of the West Bengal government Saurabh Kumar Das and Trinamool Congress vice president Kalyan Banerjee that the notification for extension was a violation of the Panchayat Act 46 (2).

He submitted that the apex court entertained the BJP's petition on April 9 and relied on the SEC to allay grievances of intending candidates for the local body polls. This was an issue which was opposed by the Opposition's representatives during the hearing.

Justice Subrata Talukdar commenced the order by quoting Winston Churchill: "At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper, no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point - House of Commons, 31 October 1944".

He said that the urgency to hold the panchayat polls as expressed by the SEC and TMC before the court had been proved to be void as the tenure of the present panchayat in the State would end in August.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress called the court ruling "unprecedented in the history of West Bengal, which means a moral victory for all opposition parties and clearly vindicates the allegation and violence by the opposition". The Congress and the CPM, while welcoming the order, said they would keep an eye on how things would unfold now.

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