Senior State Election Commission (SEC) officials of West Bengal met the Commission’s counsel Samaraditya Pal here on Friday to further explore legal options on the dispute between the election panel and the State Government over deployment of security forces for the upcoming rural polls in the State.
The Calcutta High Court resumes functioning after summer vacations on June 3 and the meeting assumed significance considering that the election panel is not satisfied with the State government seeking only 300 companies of central forces when the shortfall in the number of security personnel required is much higher. Nine districts will go to polls in the first phase, scheduled of July 2, and as per the State government there is a shortfall of about 70,000 security personnel.
The election panel has already filed a review petition before a division bench of the High Court stating that the order passed by it on May 14 was not a “consent order.”
Another area of contention between the State government and the Commission emerged after the government challenged the panel’s authority to issue instructions to district officials on poll duty.
In a letter to the State government during the day the Commission pointed out that Article 243 K of the Constitution empowered it to put district officials on poll duty under its deputation. On May 27, the panel, after issuing the notification for the first phase of rural polls on July 2, said district officials on poll duty were under its ambit.
Officials meet observers
Meanwhile, in another development senior SEC officials met 120 observers who will be deployed for the second phase of the rural polls scheduled on July 6.
The observers have been asked to report to their respective areas before filing of nomination papers for the second phase of polls starts on June 3.