MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 April 2024

822 companies of central forces for Bengal rural polls, SEC tells Calcutta HC

The division bench, also comprising Justice Uday Kumar, directed the SEC to submit its affidavit by June 27 and that it would hear the matter again on June 28

PTI Published 23.06.23, 06:42 PM
Calcutta High Court.

Calcutta High Court. File picture

The State Election Commission (SEC) on Friday informed Calcutta High Court that it has requisitioned 485 companies of central forces in addition to 337 companies already asked for, taking the total to 822 companies for the July 8 panchayat polls in West Bengal.

Hearing a contempt petition that the high court's orders were willfully disobeyed by the commission, a division bench presided by Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam directed the SEC to file an affidavit stating whether it has complied with the court's orders with regard to holding free and fair panchayat polls or there was any attempt to make the orders unworkable at different stages.

ADVERTISEMENT

SEC counsel Kishore Dutta submitted before the bench that the commission has sent a letter to the Union Home ministry seeking 485 companies of central forces in addition to the requisition already sent for 315 and 22 companies, taking the total to 822 companies.

The court had on June 21 directed the SEC to requisition more than 82,000 central forces personnel deployed during the 2013 panchayat polls, maintaining that the number of districts in the state had increased from 17 in 2013 to 22 currently, and also that the number of voters had increased in these 10 years.

The SEC had initially requisitioned 22 companies of central forces for the 22 districts after the Supreme Court on June 20 dismissed its appeal against the high court's order of June 15 which directed the commission to deploy central forces in all districts of West Bengal for the poll process.

On June 13, the high court had directed deployment of central forces forthwith in areas and districts marked sensitive by the SEC.

Observing that the orders of the court had not been complied with in letter and spirit, the high court on June 21 directed the SEC to requisition more than 82,000 central forces personnel within 24 hours.

Claiming that there has been no willful delay in complying with the court orders, Dutta prayed that the contempt proceedings against the SEC be dropped.

The division bench, also comprising Justice Uday Kumar, directed the SEC to submit its affidavit by June 27 and that it would hear the matter again on June 28.

The bench pointed out that in a PIL it was claimed that 273 seats in Canning I block of South 24 Parganas remain uncontested and voters moved court saying that they have a right to choose and a prospective candidate cannot be prevented from filing the nomination, alleging that the SEC has not taken any proactive step in this regard. The court directed the SEC to file its response on the issue in the affidavit.

It was also claimed by the petitioner that more than 20,000 candidates in the state have withdrawn their candidature after having filed nomination, which according to him is unusually high. There are around 73,000 seats for the three-tier rural polls.

The court directed the commission to answer through the affidavit a prayer by the petitioner for appointing observers for the elections.

The petitioner renewed his earlier prayer for appointment of a retired high court judge as observer for the July 8 panchayat elections, which had been refused by the court on the ground that provisions provide for the commission to appoint observers.

The SEC counsel submitted that 271 officers of the West Bengal civil service and 22 IAS officers have been appointed as observers.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT