Calcutta HC Directs SEC to Respond to Plea Seeking More Time for Filing Panchayat Poll Nominations

Observing that the time given for filing nominations for the West Bengal panchayat elections is prima facie inadequate, the Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the State Election Commission to file its response on petitions by opposition politicians for extension of dates as also for deployment of central forces during the poll process on June 12.

The court said that the State Election Commission can fix a reasonable time for the candidates to file nominations.

“Prima facie we are of the view that the time limit is inadequate,” a division bench presided by Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam said.

The SEC had Thursday announced that the last date for filing nominations for Panchayat polls would be June 15 and that polls would be held on July 8. It was stated by the petitioners that around 75,000 seats are up for elections in the three-tier panchayat elections and that it is well-nigh impossible to hold the nomination exercise within these few days.

Lawyers appearing for the two petitioners who include Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari had pointed out that given that there were two holidays, there were effectively just five days to file nominations.

The bench said that this would appear to be hurrying up the process, which needs to be reconsidered by the SEC.

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The court noted that the term of office of the current panchayat is to come to an end in August.

The court directed the SEC to give its views on the points raised by the petitioners in the form of a report on June 12, when the matter will come up for hearing again.

On the prayer for deployment of central forces during the election process, the court said that the SEC may consider whether it would augur well to seek deployment of central forces which would allow state police forces to work in tandem with them so as to avert any untoward law and order situation.

“In this regard, we stand by for a response by the SEC,” the bench, also comprising Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, said.

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