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Bengal Panchayat polls: HC declines CPI-M petition for online nominations

IANS | Kolkata |

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday declined CPI-M’s petition asking the State Election Commission (SEC) to accept nominations sent for the West Bengal Panchayat elections through e-mail, refusing to interfere in the case.

A single-judge bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar refused to pass any order on the petition as he did not wish to interfere in the panchayat election process and said such directions can be issued only in case of special circumstances, according to lawyers.

“The High Court said that the CPI-M’s petition could not be entertained. it has disposed off the petition. Also the court has expressed its anguish over so many cases being filed by different political parties on the issue of Panchayat election,” ruling Trinamool Congress’ counsel Kalyan Banerjee said outside the court.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist filed a writ petition before Justice Talukdar’s bench on Wednesday appealing it to direct the SEC to accept the online nomination forms as it did in the case of the nine prospective candidates in South 24 Pargana district’s Bhangar a day ago.

CPI-M counsel Bikash Bhattacharya argued that SEC should accept e-mailed nominations and said the Information Technology Act permitted submission of forms through e-mail.

However, the SEC opposed the petition in court stating that according to the West Bengal Panchayat Act 2003, nominations must be filed by a candidate or his proposer in person before the officer concerned.

The CPI-M, however, said it might move the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court with the same appeal as there should be no distinction in treating the voters or the prospective candidates in the election.

“The court today refused to interfere in the case but we might move the Divisional Bench on this issue as the SEC has already accepted the nominations of nine candidates submitted to it through Whatsapp. In that case, email submission of nomination papers should also be entertained. The SEC’s act should, in no way make the voters or the candidates feel that there is any disparity in the SEC’s behaviour,” said Bhattacharya.