West Bengal panchayat polls: Calcutta HC extends stay on election process

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Kolkata: A single bench of the Calcutta High Court on Monday extended a stay on the panchayat election process in West Bengal till the next date of hearing as an appeal on the maintainability of a petition by the BJP is pending before a division bench.
Justice Subrata Talukdar directed that he will take up the matter tomorrow at 2 PM after going through today’s order of the appeal bench.
The State Election Commission and the Trinamool Congress had moved the division bench comprising justices D Somadder and A Mukherjee challenging the single bench order which had accepted the maintainability of the petition at this stage.
Justice Talukdar had stayed the election process for the three-tier panchayat elections on April 12 and had directed the SEC to submit a comprehensive status report on the poll process, detailing the number of nominations filed and the percentage of nominations rejected, amongst other information.
The court had said that it would hear on April 16 the pleas challenging the SEC’s decision to withdraw its April 9 notification, which had extended the date for filing nominations by a day.
SEC secretary Nilanjan Shandilya, who appeared in person before the court in view of an ongoing ceasework by lawyers, submitted the report today.
Justice Talukdar had on April 10 stayed the withdrawal of SEC’s April 9 notification, directing the Commission to treat its order of cancellation as kept in abeyance.
He had also imposed a cost of Rs five lakh on the BJP for misrepresentation holding that the BJP had moved both the high court and the Supreme Court on similar pleas and likened its conduct to “forum hopping”.
The apex court had directed the BJP to approach the Calcutta High Court with its grievances over the deadline for filing of nominations for the panchayat polls in West Bengal.
Apart from the BJP, the CPIM and the Congress too has moved the high court challenging the SEC’s decision.