WB: announcement of rural poll dates challenged by Cong

Calcutta High Court

The West Bengal Congress on Monday moved the Calcutta High Court challenging the State Election Commission's (SEC) announcement of dates for panchayat elections in the state in phases and asked for a new schedule for the polls.

It prayed that the SEC be directed to issue a fresh notification announcing the dates for the election process from nomination to the counting of votes.

Moving an appeal against a single-bench order that disposed of their petition without any intervention or direction to the SEC, state Congress general secretary Ritju Ghosal submitted before a division bench that the West Bengal Panchayat Act 2006 mandates a single notification for the election process.

Referring to the Act, Ghosal submitted before the division bench comprising Justice B Somadder and Justice A Mukherjee that the Act states all the dates from the nomination to the declaration of the results have to be announced in a single notification.

Justice Somadder told Ghosal that since the Act says "by notification", it is a question of interpretation of the statute on whether there is a bar on more than one notification for the announcement of dates for the local body elections.

Ghosal claimed the lawmakers had intended the announcement be made through a single notification and prayed for a rollback of the notifications by the SEC and a direction to the commission to make a fresh notification announcing all the dates.

The hearing in the matter was adjourned and will be taken up again on Tuesday.

Justice Subrata Talukdar had on April 20 quashed the commission's order cancelling the extension of the date for filing nominations as issued by it on April 10.

The court had directed the commission to issue a fresh notification extending the date for filing nominations upon consultations with the state and the major collective stake-holders.

Justice Talukdar had directed the commission to then reschedule the dates in the election process as per the statutory framework.

The SEC had on April 21 issued a notification allowing the filing of nomination on April 23 and also notified the dates for scrutiny and withdrawal of nominations.

The commission, in another notification on April 28, announced that the election would be held on May 14.

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WB: announcement of rural poll dates challenged by Cong

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