West Bengal panchayat polls: SEC moves Supreme Court challenging Calcutta HC's order; CPM and BJP file caveat

New Delhi: The West Bengal State Election Commission on Wednesday approached the Supreme Court challenging the Calcutta High Court's order directing it to accept the nominations of those candidates who have filed their papers electronically within the stipulated time for the panchayat election in the state.

The state election commission (SEC) has sought a stay of the operation of Tuesday's order saying it would suffer "irreparable loss and injury" which cannot be compensated. Anticipating the move of the SEC, major state opposition, the CPM and the BJP, have filed caveat before the top court saying that no ex-parte orders should be passed. The caveat is a legal notice to a court or public officer to suspend certain proceeding till its mover is given a hearing

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was told by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for BJP's West Bengal unit, that the copy of the SEC's petition be supplied to them and the court may list the matter for hearing on 11 May.

"There is a prima facie case in favour of the petitioners and there is every likelihood of the success of the instant petition", the SEC's plea said while stating the grounds for relief. It said "an ad-interim stay of the operation of the judgement and final order of 8 May, 2018" be passed apart from other reliefs. The petition arrays CPM as respondents, besides the state government, the ruling Trinamool Congress, state panchayat secretary and others.

CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said in a tweet that "the TMC, WB Govt and SEC nexus, upset after the landmark judgement of the Calcutta High Court yesterday want to move to the Supreme Court. A caveat has already been filed on our behalf there today". The CPM has claimed that many of its intending candidates were prevented from filing nominations by the TMC.

The High Court had on Tuesday directed the SEC to accept the nominations of those candidates named by CPM, who had filed their papers electronically within the stipulated time before 3 pm on 23 April. Passing the order, the HC had observed that the poll process itself involved participation and to shut out an intending bona fide candidate from participating in it thwarted the very basic democratic principles on which it stood.

The court had said that though the filing of nominations through e-mail was not a recognised procedure under the West Bengal Panchayat Act of 2003, but in a situation where allegations of obstructing candidates from filing nominations had surfaced and had also been noted by the SEC, it should have allowed the filing of papers through e-mail.

The SEC, being a constitutional body, had to act "fairly, transparently and independently" to advance the democratic principles by allowing the intending candidates to contest, the high court said.
The Left party had submitted a list of over 800 intending candidates, claiming that they were prevented from filing nominations at the designated offices and thus, had sent their documents to the SEC through e-mail. The SEC had said it had received 340 complaints on the last day of filing of nominations, of which 25 were sent through e-mail.

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Updated Date: May 09, 2018 22:23:50 IST

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