SC refuses to interfere with HC order on deployment of central forces in Bengal for panchayat polls

New Delhi [India], June 20 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to interfere with the Calcutta High Court’s order regarding the deployment of central forces in West Bengal for the upcoming panchayat elections and dismissed the plea challenging it.

New Delhi, Jan 10 (ANI): A view of the Supreme Court building, the apex judicial body of India, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

A vacation bench comprising Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Manoj Misra rejected the plea filed by the West Bengal State Election Commission and WB State.
“We find that the order of the HC does not call for any interference. The petition stands dismissed,” the top court said.

During the hearing, the court remarked that holding elections cannot be a licence for violence. The top court remarked that elections cannot be accompanied by violence, as it questioned, Where is the free and fair election? if people are not able to file their nominations or are finished off while they are going to file nominations.

The court also observed that what the HC may have thought is that instead of requisitioning forces from other neighbouring states, it is better to deploy central forces, and expenses would be borne by the Centre.

A lawyer appearing for the West Bengal government apprised the court about the ground situation in the state and said that if required, they may deploy forces from neighbouring states. He apprised the court that this deployment is for every district, whether sensitive or not, as if the state is not equipped to handle this.

A senior advocate appearing for WB state also informed the SC that the last time the CRPF officers were deployed, they opened fire and people died.

Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the WB State Election Commission, informed the SC that their observation that the WB State Election Commission has not done anything is incorrect.

Senior Advocate Arora said that the WB state election commission cannot requisition any forces but must request them from the state. The order passed by the HC is contrary, she said.

SC remarked that it is the responsibility of the state election commission to conduct free and fair elections SC remarked that, if where the forces come from is not the concern of the State Election Commission, then how is the petition maintainable?

Senior Advocate Arora apprised SC that the WB State Election Commission cannot requisition the forces but must request them from the state. Senior Advocate Arora said that the area is not sensitive, but polling booths are.

SC reiterated that the conduct of elections cannot be a licence for violence, and HC entertained the plea by observing the ground situation in the state.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for one of the respondents in the matter, said that there is a problem in the state. He further said, “The agenda is not genuine concern for deployment; the agenda is that you don’t get central forces.

The court was hearing a plea challenging the Calcutta High Court’s order regarding the deployment of central forces in panchayat elections in West Bengal.

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.