West Bengal panchayat polls: Supreme Court sets 14 May date, stays results on 18,000 uncontested seats

The Supreme Court set 14 May as the date for the West Bengal panchayat polls and asked the State Election Commission (SEC) to ensure free and fair polls, according to several media reports.

In a setback to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the apex court stayed the results on 18,000 uncontested seats and said unopposed seats in Bengal cannot be notified, CNN-News 18 reported. The court also stayed the order on nomination by e-mails.

File image of the Supreme Court of India. Reuters

File image of the Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Earlier, the division bench of Calcutta High Court said, "Law and order is a state subject. We expect whenever elections will be held, fair steps will be taken. The state government will be liable for loss of life and property", ANI reported.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard the West Bengal SEC plea challenging the Calcutta High Court order directing it to accept the nominations of candidates who have filed their papers electronically within the stipulated time for the panchayat elections.

The SEC, which approached the apex court on Thursday, sought a stay on Wednesday's order, saying it would suffer "irreparable loss and injury" that cannot be compensated.

Anticipating the SEC's move, the state's main Opposition CPM and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) filed a caveat before the apex court saying that no ex-parte orders should be passed.

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

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

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: May 10, 2018 15:31 PM

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