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SC refuses to interfere with West Bengal panchayat polls

 New Delhi, April 9: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with the panchayat elections in West Bengal, rejecting a BJP plea for rescheduling them so that its candidates could file their nomition papers and deployment of central paramilitary forces. A bench of Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, however, granted liberty to the aggrieved political parties and their candidates as well as independents to approach the State Election Commission for the redressal of their grievance. Saying that “We are not inclined to interfere” with the ongoing panchayat elections, Justice Agrawal, pronouncing the order, held that the top court by its earlier judgment had ruled that “once the election process has been set in motion, the Court ought not to interfere …” The process for panchayat election, scheduled to be held on May 1, 3, and 5, had commenced on April 2. Disposing of the petition by the Bharatiya Jata Party, the top court granted liberty to “all political parties, their candidates, including any independent candidate/s proposing to contest the election in question, to approach the State Election Commissioner with their any individual or/and collective grievance.”

The court said this as it referred to the provisions of the West Bengal Panchayat Elections Act, 2003 which empowers the State Election Commission to entertain any grievance raised by a political party which has fielded candidates, or its indivisdual candidate or even independent candidates. “We hope and trust that in order to ensure fair and free election to the panchayats, the State Election Commission shall take appropriate steps to remove the apprehensions” of petitioner party BJP or the intending candidates and “they may not be deprived of their chance to contest the panchayat elections,” it said.
The BJP’s West Bengal unit had approached the apex court seeking the deployment of paramilitary forces alleging that its candidates were being blocked from filing their nomition papers by the Block Development Officers (BDOs) and were being targeted by the state’s ruling Trimool Congress. The BDOs have been desigted Assistant Panchayat Electoral Registration Officers for issuing and accepting the nomition papers. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita