Calcutta HC Stays Panchayat Polls, Opposition Welcomes Order
Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy said the order is the “victory for the masses of Bengal.”
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday, 12 April, stayed the ongoing panchayat election process in West Bengal until further orders.
A single-judge bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar also sought from the State Election Commission by Monday, 16 April, a comprehensive status report on the poll process, detailing the number of nominations filed and the percentage of nominations rejected, among other information.
Justice Talukdar also imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the BJP for misrepresentation. He held 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 on 11 April 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 CPI(M) and the Congress too has moved High Court challenging the SEC’s decision.
The polls are scheduled to be held in three phases on 1, 3 and 5 May.
The court will hear on 16 April the pleas challenging the State Election Commission’s decision to withdraw its 9 April notification, which had extended the date for filing nominations by a day.
Opposition parties in West Bengal have termed the order a "victory of democracy over dictatorship" and sought the resignation of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the alleged violence during nominations filing.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who was in the city to participate in a sit-in demonstration to protest against the alleged violence, said the judgment was a blow to the ruling TMC.
The ruling TMC has tried to turn the panchayat polls into farce by not allowing the Opposition candidates to file nominations. This High Court ruling is a triumph of democracy over dictatorship.Kailash Vijayvargiya to PTI
Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy said the order is the "victory for the masses of Bengal."
Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan, too, welcomed the judgment and demanded the resignations of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and State Election Commissioner AK Singh.
The people of Bengal can get justice only by moving court because the entire state administration has been turned into a back office of the ruling TMC. The chief minister and the SEC should immediately tender their resignation as they have turned the poll process into a joke.Abdul Mannan to PTI
Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said "democratic rights were being throttled" in West Bengal under the TMC rule.
The CPI(M)-led Left Front has called for a six-hour strike in West Bengal on Friday, 13 April, to protest against the pre-poll violence in the state.
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee, on his part, said people have “full faith” on Mamata Banerjee. “We will not comment on the court order. Law will take its own course. The Opposition parties do not enjoy popularity among the masses and that is why they are approaching the courts (to stall proceedings),” he told PTI.
(With inputs from PTI)
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