Calcutta HC extends by a day stay on Bengal panchayat polls process

Trinamool Congress leaders interact with the media after meeting West Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi in Kolkata on Thursday

Trinamool Congress leaders interact with the media after meeting West Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi in Kolkata on Thursday

They also accused the State Election Commission of acting like a puppet of the state ruling party after it withdraw its order of extending the nomination process by a day, within a few hours of issuing it.

Its far-reaching outcome be measured, the Monday's order could throw cold water on the State's "strong resolve" to complete by May 8, the three-tier rural polls - a almost one-sided exercise - already dismissed by the Opposition parties as a sham in the absence of central forces and with thousands of their candidates having failed to file nominations in the face of large-scale violence perpetrated by the armed-to-teeth Trinamool cadres.

The Division Bench returned the matter to the Single Bench with a request of it being heard speedily - preferably on daily-basis.

Justice Talukdar today extended the stay till the next hearing, which he fixed for tomorrow at 2 pm in view of the appeal being heard by the division bench.

The opposition parties moved Supreme Court after the SEC, in the wake of reports of pre-poll panchayat violence, extended the nomination filing deadline to only rescind it within hours.

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The SEC and the Trinamool Congress had moved the appeal before the division bench, challenging the stay on the election process and on the maintainability of BJP's petition.

Claiming that the single bench's observation that the petition was "maintainable at this stage" was erroneous, Banerjee, a TMC Lok Sabha MP and a lawyer by profession, submitted that maintainability of a petition could not depend on any given stage.

The Congress has also been demanding a team of central observers visit to the state and take stock of the situation arising out of violence for Panchayat polls to be held on May, 1, 3 and 5. "It has said that the single bench will hear the matter now", he said.

The high court on April 12 stalled all proceedings of the poll until its fresh order, which is likely to be passed on Monday.

On Monday, BJP representative Pratap Banerjee furnished a bond of Rs five lakh as fine imposed by the court on the party for "misrepresenting facts" by moving both the Supreme Court and the High Court on the same plea.

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