WB Panchayat polls: Uncertainty continues to persist

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SUPREME_COURTKolkata, June 26;Six days before its first phase is scheduled the uncertainty surrounding the rural polls in the State persisted on Wednesday with the legal imbroglio involving the State government and the State Election Commission over the availability of security forces for the elections shifting to the Supreme Court.

While the election panel moved the Supreme Court earlier in the day, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court comprising Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi that is hearing SEC’s application said it was “fed up” and was glad that the matter has gone to the apex court.

“Entire India is looking at the case and I am happy that it has gone to the Supreme Court. At least there will be a verdict now. I am fed up with the case. I am happy”, said Justice Mishra on being informed about the State Election Commission’s move.

The poll panel had submitted to the Court that it has moved the Supreme Court citing that the need for an urgent end to the deadlock as the polls are scheduled for July 2, 6 and 9.

SC issues notices

It later informed the Court that the apex court had issued notices to the Centre and the State government seeking their response by Friday on how to meet the requirement of security personnel for the polls.

The Court then announced it will resume hearing on the Commission’s application later that day.

The election panel’s counsel have been consistently arguing that unless the State government comes up with a detailed account of the number of security forces that can be available for deployment the Commission will not be in a position to hold a free and fair election.

There were heated exchanges between the counsels of the State government and the poll panel when the former described as “disgraceful” the poll panel’s “sudden” decision to move the apex court and charged it of being unwilling to hold the election.

This prompted counsel for the Commission Samaraditya Pal to ask the Court whether moving the Supreme Court is a “disgrace”.

As the war of words raged the Court was forced to interject saying it is “shocked at the conduct of the parties (concerned)”.

Later, speaking to journalists, government pleader Ashok Banerjee said that the Commission has every right to move the apex court but it was its “moral responsibility” to have informed the High Court earlier in the day that it was doing so.

Ever since notifications were issued for the rural polls the Mamata Banerjee government and the election panel have been at odds over the availability of security forces to be deployed for the elections.

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