New Delhi [India], June 19 (ANI): West Bengal State Election Commission has informed the top court that the direction for the deployment of central forces in panchayat elections without providing adequate opportunity to state poll panel is an over-step of the judicial powers of the Calcutta High Court.
“A direction was passed on the Petitioner (WB State Election Commission) for deployment of Central Forces without providing adequate opportunity to the Petitioner by way of affidavit and such direction is an over-step of the judicial powers of the High Court,” WB state election commission said in the petition filed in the Supreme Court.
Challenging the Calcutta High Court order dated June 15, the West Bengal state election commission told the court that the High Court had no jurisdiction to interfere with the process of election in view of specific Bar under Article 243 O read with Article 243K of the Constitution of India read with Section 80 of the West Bengal Panchayat Elections Act, 2003 (Act, 2003) more so when it is settled that the process of election has commenced with issuance of notification by the Petitioner.
WB state election commission said that being an independent constitutional body is solely vested with the powers to take decisions in respect of the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls and the conduct of all Panchayat elections within the State of West Bengal.
“On the basis of the assumption that the State of West Bengal has sensitive areas and that the arrangements made by the State Administration were inadequate to conduct free and fair elections in the said sensitive areas and deployment of Central Paramilitary Forces do not guarantee and/or in still confidence amongst the general public for a free and fair election. Ignoring that the Central Paramilitary Forces have on previous occasions miserably failed to in still confidence amongst general public, thereby leading the general public to be left scared,” WB state election commission said.
“Direction of deployment of Central Forces on the basis of certain newspaper reporting and without ascertaining into the fact whether any actual complaint has been filed to this extent has neglected the Law of the rule of evidence,” WB state election commission said.
The State Election Commission said that in its independent assessment, the commission had declared that the arrangement made by the State Administration was sufficient and adequate, could not have directed the Petitioner to mandatorily requisition Central Paramilitary Forces for the all districts in West Bengal.
“A direction was passed on the Petitioner for the deployment of Central Forces without providing adequate opportunity to the Petitioner by way of affidavit and such direction is an over-step of the judicial powers of the High Court,” WB state election commission said.
“The High Court while passing the Impugned Order has failed to take into consideration various steps which have been taken by the State Administration from time to time to enable free and fair election, and has erroneously come to a blanket conclusion that the arrangements made by the State Administration fall short to enable free and fair election and such an approach by the High Court creates a problem for the petitioner to exercise its power in a proper manner,” WB state election commission said.
The Supreme Court, on Monday, agreed to list on June 20 the plea challenging the Calcutta High Court’s order regarding the deployment of central forces in panchayat elections. A vacation bench of justices Surya Kant and MM Sundresh agreed to hear the matter tomorrow.
Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora mentioned before the apex Court seeking an urgent listing of the petition challenging the Calcutta High Court’s order regarding the deployment of central forces in panchayat elections. Earlier, West Bengal State Election Commission and the West Bengal Government moved to the Supreme Court challenging the Calcutta High Court’s order regarding the deployment of central forces in panchayat elections.
Senior Advocate Arora apprised the top court that the HC has directed the state poll panel to requisition. She said that the West Bengal state election commission has challenged Calcutta HC’s order dated June 13 and June 15.
Ahead of the Panchayat elections, scheduled to be held on July 8, the state witnessed continuous clashes in various parts of the state including an outbreak of violence at the Block Development Office in Birbhum’s Ahmadpur, where crude bombs were reportedly thrown. Also, a TMC worker was beaten to death in the Malda district.
The election will be held in a single phase on July 8, with vote counting scheduled for July 11. Panchayat polls in West Bengal will witness a fierce contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Trinamool Congress as they will be seen as a litmus test ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.