In a major development that can have a bearing on the fate of the panchayat election in the State, the West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC) moved the Calcutta High Court here on Monday seeking cancellation of the State government’s notification on holding the election in the last week of April.
In a notification issued by the State’s Panchayat department last month it was stated that the rural polls would be held in two phases on April 26 and April 30. The Commission maintains that the department had unilaterally issued the notification and sought that a fresh notification be made in consultation with it.
Appearing for the Commission, L.C. Bihani raised the matter before the court of Justice Biswanath Somadder. Justice Somadder directed the counsel to get the matter listed before he could take it. The matter is scheduled to be taken up by the Court on Tuesday.
“The State government is in a position strong enough to combat the petition,” the State’s Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said, adding that the State’s Advocate General would represent the government in Court.
Another major point of contention is that the Commission wants to deploy paramilitary forces during the election , something the government does not want and has pointed out that deployment of the State Armed Police would meet the security requirements for the polls and if required the help of certain other State police forces could be sought .
But the impasse between the two sides could not be resolved despite the intervention of Governor M.K. Narayanan.
“It is unfortunate that we have to approach the Court on the matter,” Tapas Ray, Secretary, State Election Commission said.
The Commission has pointed out that under Section 243 of the Constitution, which empowers the Commission to conduct elections, there are provisions for the Commission to request the Governor to make available “staff” to hold the polls.
An official of the Commission said that Section 42 of the West Bengal Panchayat Elections Act 2003, which gives power to the State government to issue notification for the rural polls in consultation with the Commission, was “not consistent” with Section 243 of the Constitution and gave the power of “supervision, direction and control” of panchayat elections to the State Election Commission.