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The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the West Bengal Election Commission over its decision to revoke an order extending the deadline for filing nominations for the recently concluded Bengal panchayat polls, just a day after it had extended it. “Why did you first extend the deadline for filing the nomination papers and later take back the decision,” a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked the counsel for the poll panel.
The Commission, in the wake of complaints by candidates that they were unable to file nomination papers, had on April 9 extended the deadline for filing nomination papers till 3 pm the next day. However, it withdrew the order the next morning. The apex court observed that the deadline was extended after the Commission received complaints regarding the problems in filing nomination papers, and sought to know if any enquiry was conducted before the order was revoked.
“Did you make an enquiry about the situation at the ground level before taking back the decision,” the court asked. As senior advocates Rakesh Dwivedi and Amrendra Sharan, who were appearing for the Commission, requested the bench to permit it to declare the results for seats that were duly contested, the top court said it will pass an order in the matter after hearing the poll panel again on August 6.
On Tuesday, the apex court had said it was “shocking” that thousands of seats went uncontested in the Bengal panchayat elections held in May. The court was hearing an appeal filed by the state election commission (SEC) against the High Court order asking it to accept the nomination papers filed through email for the panchayat elections. Of a total 58,692 posts for gram panchayat village, zilla parishad and panchayat samiti, 20,159 of them had remained uncontested in the violence-marred local polls.