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Calcutta high court says single bench will hear Bengal panchayat poll case

Justice Subrata Talukdar, who ordered a stay on the elections after the state election commission’s flip flop on last date of nominations, will hear the matter at 2 pm on Tuesday.

india Updated: Apr 16, 2018 19:06 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Panchayat polls,West Bengal,Calcutta
Supporters of Left Front take out a protest rally in Kolkata on Monday. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

A division bench of Calcutta high court on Monday ruled that the single bench of justice Subrata Talukdar will hear the petition regarding the panchayat elections.

The bench of Biswanath Somadder and Arindam Mukherjee said the hearing has to take place expeditiously. If necessary, hearing might take place every day, it said.

Justice Talukdar, who ordered a stay on the elections after the state election commission’s flip flop on the last date of nominations, will hear the matter at 2 pm on Tuesday.

Petitions on the rural polls came up for hearing both in the single bench and the division bench after ruling Trinamool Congress moved the division bench against the single bench’s stay.

Welcoming the order, BJP’s Bengal unit general secretary Pratap Banerjee said, “The division bench threw out the ruling party’s appeal to vacate the single bench order.”

“We will argue our matter in Calcutta high court only and would not go to the Supreme Court,” said Kalyan Banerjee, advocate for Trinamool Congress.

On April 9, the state election commission had extended by a day the last day for filing nominations after the BJP and opposition parties alleged that the ruling Trinamool was using strong-arm tactics and violence to prevent its candidates from filing nominations. The next morning, it withdrew the order citing legalities.

As per the original schedule, the nomination process ended on April 9. The polls are to be held on May 1, 3 and 5. Counting was supposed to be held on May 8.

When asked when the current panchayat term would end, the bench was told mid-August.

“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).

Left, Congress hit the streets in Kolkata

Leaders of 17 Left parties and Congress hit the streets of Kolkata on Monday.

While leaders and workers of the Left parties held a rally, Congress leaders held a hunger strike at Rani Rashmoni Road in central Kolkata.

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

Left Front chairman Biman Bose and CPI(M) state secretary Suryakanta Mishra participated in the procession.

Incidentally, in 2013, central forces were deployed for the first time in Bengal’s rural forces. Despite stiff opposition by the Mamata Banerjee government, the use of these forces was ordered by the Supreme Court after the state election commissioner said she did not have faith in the state police.

Allegations against ruling party supporters trying to coerce opposition candidates to withdraw nomination continued in the state with CPI(M) and BJP candidates allegedly being pressured by Trinamool supporters to step aside from the contest.

Both the incidents took place in the north Bengal district of Jalpaiguri.

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 18:54 IST