No stay on panchayat poll order

Division Bench wants arguments to conclude today.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published:May 14, 2013 3:40 am

THE Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court today refused to stay the verdict of its single bench on holding of panchayat polls. The state government had filed a review petition after Justice B Sommader on Friday directed the elections to be held in three phases under central security forces — as sought by the state election commission’s plea.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Arun Kumar Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi observed that holding the panchayat poll was a “constitutional compulsion” and cannot be delayed.

Hearing the arguments for over an hour today,the Division Bench stated both parties — state and SEC — should conclude the arguments when the hearing in the case resumes tomorrow morning.

During the arguments today,the deployment of central forces and poll observers remained the major issues of contention.

State government’s advocate general Bimal Chatterjee said the SEC sought 400 observers of rank not below deputy secretaries. The state could,however,provide the names of 266 observers. Chatterjee said the SEC’s demand can be met only if it was ready to accept observers of the rank of assistant secretaries.

Chatterjee said the SEC has demanded 800 companies of central paramilitary forces without furnishing ground for such a huge requirement of central forces. The state had told the single bench that it will deploy two armed personnel at each polling premises while the poll panel wants two armed personnel at each polling booth.

Chatterjee said the SEC has sought a huge number of security forces without identifying “sensitive” and “non-sensitive” polling booths.

SEC counsel Barrister Samaraditya Pal pleaded the state government would not be able to provide adequate number of security forces for the polling booths,which is why central forces would be required. He added the poll panel’s demand was according to the estimate prepared by the DMs and SPs of various districts.

The Division Bench said if there was a shortfall of security forces,the state will have to arrange for it. It also asked Pal to assess the polling booths on the basis of “sensitive ones” or “less sensitive ones.”

The number of forces may vary considering the nature of the booths,stated the Bench,adding the law and order situation of the districts cannot be same.

The Division Bench said if both sides were unable to resolve the dispute on the issue of armed forces,it would intervene and pass an order.

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