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Tuesday 31 March 2020

Indictment of Bengal govt: 3 panchayat candidates file nomination papers before SEC

Justice Shekhar B Saraf of the Calcutta High Court passed an interim order directing the State Election Commission to accept their nomination papers at its office

Editorials

In India

Kolkata: In an unprecedented order, the Calcutta High Court today allowed three candidates to file nomination for panchayat elections directly before the State Election Commission (SEC) after they alleged that they were prevented from filing their papers by political opponents.

Today was the last day of filing of nominations for the panchayat polls in the State that are scheduled to be held in three phases in the first week of May.

Noting that any delay in the nomination process would make their petition infructuous, Justice Shekhar B Saraf passed an interim order directing the SEC to accept their nomination papers at its office here.

Sultan Hossain Molla, Azizul Molla and Chhaleyara Bibi Molla alleged before the court that they were beaten up by ruling Trinamool Congress supporters with the collusion of police personnel when they had gone to the office of the block development officer at Bhangore in South 24 Parganas district to file their nomination papers.

Submitting that today is the last day for filing nominations for the panchayat polls, they alleged that there is a reign of terror in the locality and they were unable to enter the area due to fear of grievous injuries at the hands of hooligans.

Noting that the writ petition has not yet been served on the respondents, Justice Saraf observed that “taking into consideration the urgency of the matter, I am of the view that an ad interim order is absolutely necessary otherwise the said writ petition shall become infructuous”.

Taking into account a Supreme Court order earlier in the day on a petition by the West Bengal unit of BJP on panchayat elections in the State, Justice Saraf said, “In view of the apex court order, it is clear that no intending candidate should be deprived of the chance to contest the panchayat elections”.

Justice Saraf observed that it is the duty of the SEC to take appropriate steps to remove the apprehensions of such candidates. He directed the SEC to accept the nomination of the three petitioners for the panchayat elections at its office, keeping in view the “dictum of the apex court”.

The three candidates filed their nomination at the SEC office later in the day.

Sharmistha Chowdhury, an alleged Naxalite leader, was also a petitioner in the matter. She assisted the three candidates.

The three petitioners appeared before the court in person and were not represented by any lawyer owing to an ongoing ceasework by advocates at the high court.

Chowdhury had been arrested by the State police for her alleged involvement in violent protests against setting up of a Powergrid sub-station at Bhangore in January 2017. She was later granted bail by the Calcutta High Court in July last year.

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