HC dismisses plea against order stalling West Bengal panchayat elections

West Bengal chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee

The Calcutta High Court has halted the panchayat poll procedure on a petition filed by the BJP.

A division bench of the Calcutta High Court on Monday refused to entertain a petition from the ruling Trinamool Congress and the state election commission (SEC) against a single bench order that stayed the election process to the state's panchayats.

In his previous order the judge had ordered the stay till Monday. The bench of Justices Biswanath Samaddar and Arindam Mukherjee also referred the case to the same single bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar and directed it to be heard daily from Tuesday. The single bench will hear the case from tomorrow. "It has said that the single bench will hear the matter now", he said.

Eventually on 12 April, justice Talukdar issued an interim order stalling the electoral process and asking the commission to explain what it had done to address complaints from opposition parties. "Never before the Opposition parties in the state have faced such a situation where they were not allowed to file nominations by the ruling party". Those who could not file their panchayat poll nominations due to the ruling party terror will breathe a sigh of relief now.

The directive by the bench came after BJP, Left and Congress alleged that the TMC resorted to violence to hinder the filing of nominations by opposition candidates.

The Trinamool Congress's Banerjee said his party wouldn't move the Supreme Court against the dismissal of its appeal and will contest it in Talukdar's court.

CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said the State Election Commission had become a "back office" of the Trinamool Congress.

"We don't want the elections to get delayed, but we knew the elections could have been held in June and July", said Rabin Deb, state secretariat member of the CPI (M). It has repeatedly asked Kalyan Banerjee why they were not going to the single bench.

Panchayat poll in the state is significant as it is considered to be crucial for the General Elections, which will be held next in 2019.

State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury, who participated in the protest, said the votes will be a farce without central forces.

SEC secretary Nilanjan Shandilya, who appeared in person before the court in view of an ongoing ceasework by lawyers, submitted the report today.

During plea, justices asked lawyer from TMC, MP Kalyan Banerjee that why they have appealed to the division bench when the single bench is hearing the matter.