The Calcutta High Court asked the State Election Commission (SEC) here on Tuesday to serve notice on the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in connection with the legal battle between the election panel and the West Bengal government pertaining to security arrangements for the coming rural polls.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi directed the election panel to add the Centre as respondent after the SEC moved a fresh application before the Court.

‘Not enough forces’

In its application, the SEC said that the State government had not provided adequate forces for holding the election despite the Court order. The panel urged the court to direct the government to comply with its orders.

The directive to add the Centre to the list of respondent assumes significance as only it, besides other States, can provide additional forces to meet the shortfall in the number of forces required.

While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that the Centre had rejected the government’s request to send 300 companies of Central forces, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had said the Centre was willing to provide additional Central forces.

The court, in its verdict on May 14, said that in case of any shortfall, the State government could seek forces from Centre or other States.

Counsel appearing for the election panel had during a hearing earlier this month said that additional forces had not been made available to the Commission despite the May 14 order.

Primacy of SEC

The court on June 13 had upheld the primacy of the Commission in holding the panchayat elections. The Bench had ruled that the election panel would decide on the quantum of forces for holding the election and the government would make the arrangements.

The matter will be taken up for hearing on Wednesday.