In a huge reprieve to the Mamata Banerjee government, the Supreme Court turned down the pleas of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPIM) seeking re-election to over 20,000 uncontested seats in the recent panchayat polls in West Bengal. The said seats (20,178) had gone to the ruling Trinamool Congress as there was no rival contestant.

The top court, however, allowed those claiming that they were obstructed from filing nominations to challenge polls by filing election petitions. The court said election petitions can be filed within 30 days from date of notification of panchayat poll results.

Also, the apex court set aside Calcutta High Court order allowing filing of nomination papers through e-mail, WhatsApp in West Bengal panchayat polls.

The opposition had approached the top court alleging that no other candidate could file nominations to contest these seats because of violence and attacks by Trinamool Congress workers.

A special leave petition had been filed by Bengal’s State Election Commission in May. Opposition parties including the CPM, the BJP and Congress had gone to the Calcutta High Court in the run-up to the panchayat polls, pleading that their candidates could not file nominations because of alleged violence by the Trinamool.

The Calcutta High Court then ordered the State Election Commission to accept nomination papers electronically — through e-mail and WhatsApp. But the state poll panel challenged that in Supreme Court, which set aside e-nominations on Friday.

The elections were held in May for 48,650 posts in gram panchayats, 825 posts in zila parishads and 9,217 posts in panchayat samitis.