HC refuses order on petition seeking nomination through e-mail in Bengal rural polls
Citing violence, CPM’S Bikash Bhattacharya sought direction to poll panel to accept e-mailed nominations and said the Information Technology Act permitted submission of forms through e-mail.kolkata Updated: Apr 25, 2018 16:26 IST
The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday refused to pass any order on a petition seeking direction to the State Election Commission (SEC) to accept nominations for panchayat elections in West Bengal sent to it through e-mail, saying that it did not wish to interfere.
Observing that no special circumstance has been warranted to issue any such direction, Justice Subrata Talukdar disposed of the petition by the CPI(M).
Justice Talukdar said that the court had already expressed its views on the panchayat election process and that there would be no interference from the court over this petition by the Left party.
Justice Talukdar had earlier stayed the panchayat election process and quashed the Commission’s order withdrawing its notification that extended the nominations by a day. The judge had directed the SEC to allow nominations by issuing a fresh notification.
Justice Talukdar had held that petitions, filed by the BJP, CPI(M) and other opposition parties, challenging the cancellation of notification were maintainable and directed the Commission to reschedule the dates for panchayat election process and accordingly conduct the polls.
Representing CPI(M), Bikash Bhattacharya on Wednesday prayed for direction to the SEC to accept e-mailed nominations and said the Information Technology Act permitted submission of forms through e-mail.
He also submitted that nominations of nine candidates were accepted by the commission through ‘WhatsApp’ on April 23 evening after official hours for filing nominations between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm.
SEC secretary Nilanjan Shandilya opposed the petition, submitting before the court that according to the West Bengal Panchayat Act 2003, nominations must be filed by a candidate or his proposer in person before the designated office.
He stated that the nine nominations were accepted under special circumstances.
The court had on Monday directed the Commission to make arrangements for the filing of nominations of 11 candidates of the Polerhat II gram panchayat at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district after they claimed that they were being prevented from reaching the office designated for the purpose by armed hooligans.
Nine of the 11 candidates filed their nominations using WhatsApp, Sharmistha Chowdhury, representing the candidates in the court, informed Justice Talukdar on Tuesday.
The candidates had sent photos of their filled up nomination papers to the authorities concerned through WhatsApp as they were manhandled and their papers were snatched at the Alipore Survey Building where they had been directed to go by the Commission to file their nominations, she claimed.
Chowdhury also claimed that as the fees for the nominations, filing of which ended on Monday, could not be paid as the original papers were snatched, the nominations could be treated as invalid during scrutiny on this grounds.
Justice Talukdar had then directed the SEC secretary to treat the nominations of the nine candidates as valid and said that no uncertainty would be accepted by the court over technicalities.
Shandilya gave an undertaking before the court that the nominations would be treated as valid and the candidates’ names would appear in the ballot papers.