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West Bengal Panchayat polls: HC tells SEC to accept nominations on WhatsApp

It also cautioned the SEC that if the nominations are rejected, it would once again put a stay on the election process.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Updated: April 25, 2018 5:35:20 am
Protesters burn an effigy of ‘dead democracy’. Subham Dutta

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to accept the nominations of nine panchayat poll candidates from Bhangar, who had sent their papers to the block development officer (BDO) through WhatsApp.

It also cautioned the SEC that if the nominations are rejected, it would once again put a stay on the election process.
On Monday, the court had heard a plea by 11 candidates from Bhangar, who had complained that “armed hooligans” prevented them from reaching the BDO office. Candidates were given an extra day (Monday) to file nominations following an HC order directing the SEC to extend the date.

During the hearing, Justice Subrata Talukdar had directed the SEC to ensure that nominations of 11 candidates for Polerhat II gram panchayat in South 24 Parganas district are filed, adding that it would be contempt of court if the order isn’t executed. The court had also directed the commission to file a compliance report on Tuesday.

Following the order, the 11 candidates had gone to the treasury building in Alipore (the administrative office of South 24 Parganas district) on Monday, but were unable to file their nominations due to an alleged attack by Trinamool workers. However, 9 of the 11 candidates sent their nomination papers to the block development officer through WhatsApp.

Read | West Bengal Panchayat polls: HC junks Opposition petitions, won’t intervene on extending deadline

During the hearing on Tuesday, petitioner Sharmishta Chowdhury told the court that their nomination papers were torn up by “armed hooligans”. The SEC informed the court that it had received nominations of 9 of the Bhangar candidates through WhatsApp.

However, Chowdhury stated that the nominations were in danger of getting rejected during the scrutiny process as they were not filed properly. She also claimed that because the fee for nominations, filing of which ended Monday, could not be paid as the original papers were snatched, the nominations could be treated as invalid on this ground.

As the petitioner pleaded that the court intervene, the HC directed the SEC to accept the WhatsApp nominations and ensure they do not get rejected. “Yesterday, some armed hooligans once again prevented us from filing our nominations despite the court order. Today we pleaded before the court to direct the commission to accept our nominations which were sent through WhatsApp and make sure they don’t get rejected. The court has heard us and directed the SEC to do the same,” Chowdhury said.

 

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