It wants the court to delete certain expressions from its verdict

In a significant development, the West Bengal State Election Commission has decided to file an application before the Calcutta High Court seeking the deletion of certain expressions the Court made in its ruling in the dispute between the Commission and the State government over rural elections in the State.

“We have decided to take the appropriate steps to have expressions like ‘amicably settled’ and ‘consent’ deleted from the order of the division bench as we had said nothing to suggest it,” senior lawyer Samaraditya Pal, who represents the panel, told The Hindu here on Wednesday.

“This move should, however, have no bearing on the fate of the rural polls,” he added.

Asserting that he had never given his consent to the order, which states that the dispute was “ amicably settled and is being decided by the following consent order,” Mr. Pal said the development was “very unfortunate.”

The ruling also states that the dispute was settled “happily.” “But I am extremely unhappy about this approach,” Mr. Pal said.

His remarks come on the eve of a meeting on poll schedule, scheduled between senior State government officials and the Commission.

The Calcutta High Court has ruled that the election be held before in three phases before July 15 and a notification on the poll schedule be issued within three days. Besides the poll dates and the district wise break-up for the three phases, the question of appointing election observers and those related to deployment of forces in booths and polling stations are likely to be deliberated. But even before they could meet differences between the State government and the Commission have come to the fore, said sources.

Identifying the sensitive nature of poll booths — that the State government claims is responsibility of the State’s Home department and not that of the Commission — is another contentious issue.

The entire security arrangement for the election hinges on such categorisation of poll booths and stations. The High Court in its ruling has already indicated the number of armed policemen to be deployed in different categories of booths.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Surya Kanta Mishra wondered what sort of consent involving the State government and the Election Commission had been arrived at, when shortly after the High Court’s verdict on the matter the State’s Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee accused the Commission of being part of a conspiracy to defer the polls.

If this were an example of consent there was little reason to believe that the government would comply with any order of the High Court, Dr. Mishra said. Moreover, he added, there was ample evidence to show that the government was exerting pressure on the police to serve the ruling party’s interests.


Unseemly hold-upMay 22, 2013