State Election Commission may take battle to apex court
statesman news service
KOLKATA, 20 JUNE: Submitting a status report on the security forces provided by the state government for the candidates for the panchayat elections to Mr Justice Sanjib Banerjee of Calcutta High Court today, state election commission counsel, Samaraditya Pal submitted that it is inadequate.
This was in connection with a writ petition filed on the Pradesh Congress Committes’s behalf, alleging that Congress candidates have been prevented from campaigning freely by the ruling party’s activists, who are intimidating the Congress nominees. The petition had sought adequate security for the Congress nominees as well as their property till the completion of the elections.
As election matters are being heard by the Division Bench presided over by Mr Arun Mishra, Chief Justice, Mr Justice Banerjee was of the view that this petition should also be sent to it to avoid conflict of decisions. But the Division Bench sent it back and Mr Justice Banerjee had directed yesterday that the commission file a report on the candidates security. Appearing for the PCC, Mr Pradip Tarafdar, submitted that the views of the commission reflect the contention of the writ petition. The matter will come up for hearing on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, there is speculation that the State Election Commission (SEC) may be preparing to take its panchayat poll legal battle with the state government to the Supreme Court if it fails to get a favourable directive from Calcutta High Court during the next hearing scheduled for Monday.
Although there is no official word on this, the speculation was triggered by the state election commissioner, Ms Mira Pande, and joint secretary, Mr Sabbyasachi Ghosh suddenly embarking on a trip to New Delhi today. The two flew to Delhi this morning and are expected to return to the city tomorrow. SEC secretary, Mr Tapas Ray, maintained that Ms Pande was in Delhi "purely on personal reasons" and he was unaware about the poll panel joint secretary accompanying him. Contacted over the phone, Ms Ghosh however said he too has come to Delhi on "personal reasons".
SEC’s counsel at Calcutta High Court, Mr Laxmi Chand Behani, maintained that he has no knowledge if the poll panel was planning to move the Apex Court. "I am not privy to any such plans; the only thing I know is that the next hearing in HC is scheduled for Monday." 
The poll panel had moved the High Court on 18 June over the government’s failure to confirm the availability of the required number of security forces for the upcoming panchayat polls and sought the HC’s directive on its next course of action. The HC has asked the state government to file an action taken report on the security arrangements and has also sought to know from the Centre its position on providing security forces for the rural polls in Bengal.
Meanwhile, acting on a written complaint from the Left Front, the SEC today sought a report from the district magistrate, North 24 Parganas, on alleged violation of the Model of Code of Conduct by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
While addressing an election rally at Gaighata yesterday, Miss Banerjee had allegedly announced several development projects for the district.