Calcutta HC stays WB panchayat polls till further orders
The Calcutta HC has stayed the panchayat election process in West Bengal, till further orders. Justice Subrata Talukdar also sought a detailed status report from the State Election Commission (SEC) by Monday regarding the number of nominations filed and the percentage of nominations rejected. The court said it would hear on April 16 the pleas challenging the SEC's decision to withdraw its April 9 notification.
What is the controversy about?
Though the last date for panchayat polls nominations was till Monday, SEC extended it till 3pm on Tuesday based on complaints that the Opposition candidates were prevented from filing papers. However, on April 10 at 9am, the SEC cancelled the previous order extending the deadline for filing nominations. The BJP moved SC claiming that the order was recalled under pressure from the ruling TMC.
Now, what did the Calcutta HC say?
Justice Talukdar imposed a fine of Rs. 5L on the BJP for misrepresentation. He said the BJP had moved both the HC and SC on similar pleas, accusing it of "forum hopping." The SC had earlier asked BJP to approach the Calcutta HC with its grievances. The CPI(M) and Congress have also moved the HC challenging SEC's decision.
When are the panchayat polls scheduled?
Elections for the three-tier panchayat polls across Bengal's 20 districts are scheduled in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5. TMC faces a tough challenge from BJP, Congress and Left. Separately, CM Mamata Banerjee's government faces immense scrutiny as reports of poll-related violence increased. Two persons were killed in North 24 Parganas and houses of two Congress candidates were torched in Malda district.