Ticking off the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal for “dilly-dallying”,the Supreme Court today refused to reschedule the dates of Panchayat polls of West Bengal which are to be conducted in five phases begining from July 11 as per its direction. A bench of justices A K Patnayak and Ranjan Gogoi,which had last week fixed the dates of poll for July 11,15,19,22 and 25,turned down the plea of State government and some NGOs seeking to reschedule the dates to keep the election process before or after the period of Ramzan which is is likely to start from July 10 and end on August 9. The bench said that it respects the sentiments of Muslim community but constitution provision,for holding the election before tenure of Panchayat comes to an end,cannot be bypassed.
It noted that dates cannot be preponed as the Centre expressed its inability in providing police force before July 10. “Should we violate the Constitution(by postponing the dates) or should we allow polls without security?,” the bench asked the state government and NGOs. “Judges have to go according to Constitution,” the bench said and pulled up the West Bengal government for “dilly-dallying” on the issue.
“If you(state government) wanted to have election on time then you should have taken steps earlier. This is dilly- dallying,” the bench said and directed it to issue notification as per court’s order. “We cannot modify schedule of election. The state government shall issue notification pursuant to our order,” the bench said.
The apex court had,while fixing the date of polls,also directed the state government to provide on an average 35,000 security personnel for each phase of the election and the rest of the requirement of security forces will be provided by the Centre. The apex court had passed the order on a petition filed by the SEC which had approached it seeking directions to the state and the Centre to provide adequate security personnel for the election.
The election body had contended it was not possible to hold violence-free polls in the prevailing circumstances as enough security personnel were not available.