A division bench of the Calcutta High Court on Monday refused to entertain a petition from the ruling Trinamool Congress and the state election commission (SEC) against a single bench order that stayed the election process to the state’s panchayats. The stay, which was supposed to end on Monday, was later extended by a day. The bench of Justices Biswanath Samaddar and Arindam Mukherjee also referred the case to the same single bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar and directed it to be heard daily from Tuesday.
TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee, who had moved the petition to the division bench on behalf of his party, confirmed the same. “The division bench has said that it will not interfere in the case as the matter is pending before the single bench. It has said that the single bench will hear the matter now,” he said. The BJP, on whose petition Justice Talukdar stayed the election process, welcomed the order.
“Today’s division bench order is a victory for the democracy. Those who could not file their panchayat poll nominations due to the ruling party terror will breathe a sigh of relief now. We never wanted to stall the election. We have always wanted that all Opposition candidates be allowed to file their nominations. Today, the court has rejected the TMC’s appeal. Separately, the single bench said it will hear the case at 2 pm,” said state BJP general secretary Pratap Banerjee who had filed the petition with the single judge bench on his own.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, “We have full faith in the honourable high court. It has repeatedly asked Kalyan Banerjee why they were not going to the single bench. The TMC was refusing because it knew that the order will not be in their favour.” With violence marring much of the pre-poll process, the BJP challenged the state election commission’s (SEC’s) move to withdraw its April 9 notification extending the nomination deadline by a day. CPM’s Rabin Deb and Congress state chief Adhir Chowdhury’s petitions on the same were made party to the BJP petition. On April 12, Justice Talukdar stayed the election process till April 16 and sought a detailed report from the SEC on measures taken to address the Opposition’s concerns. On Monday, the single judge bench extended the stay by a day.
The court had also asked the state election commission to file a comprehensive status report on the poll process, detailing the number of nominations filed and the percentage of nominations rejected by Monday. However, TMC on April 13 moved the division bench of Justice Biswanath Samaddar and Arindam Mukherjee to challenge Talukdar’s stay order. The state panchayat polls are scheduled to be held on May 1, 3 and 5.