Calcutta High Court has ordered a stay on the poll process of local body elections in West Bengal. In its order, the High Court has postponed the polls to April 16. The court directed the Election Commission to file a factual report in the court and said that all election procedures should be stopped including nomination withdrawal and scrutiny till April 16.
While issuing the order, Justice Subrata Talukdar also sought from the State Election Commission (SEC) by Monday a comprehensive status report on the poll process, detailing the number of nominations filed and the percentage of nominations rejected, amongst other information. High Court also said that it would hear on April 16 the pleas which challenged the SEC’s decision to withdraw its April 9 notification, which had extended the date for filing nominations by a day.
On April 10, the court had stayed the withdrawal of SEC’s April 9 notification, directing the Commission to treat its order of cancellation as kept in abeyance. The court also imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the BJP for misrepresentation.
Likening the BJP’s conduct to “forum shopping”, Justice Talukdar held that the party had moved both the high court and the Supreme Court on similar pleas. On Wednesday, Supreme Court had directed the BJP to approach the Calcutta High Court with its grievances over the deadline for filing of nominations for the panchayat polls in West Bengal.
Apart from the saffron party, the CPI(M) and the Congress have also filed pleas in high court challenging the SEC’s decision.
Commenting on the development, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is in the city to participate in a sit-in demonstration, termed the judgment as a blow to the ruling TMC. “The ruling TMC has tried to turn the panchayat polls into farce by not allowing the opposition candidates to file nominations. This high court ruling is a triumph of democracy over dictatorship,” Vijayvergiya told reporters. Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy termed the order is the “victory for the masses of Bengal”.