WB panchayat polls: SC to consider declaring no-contest in over 20,000 seats

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Aug 20, 2018, 09:24 PM(IST)

Representative Image. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

The Supreme Court on Monday said that it will have to consider the issue that there was no contest on over 20,000 seats in recently-held elections for local bodies in West Bengal in the wake of an allegation that the candidates other, than the ruling party, were obstructed from filing their nomination papers.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud reserved its verdict on the pleas filed by the West Bengal State Election Commission and parties like the BJP and CPI (M).

"The issue of non-acceptance of nomination papers by the Election Commission has to be dealt by the election tribunal in election petition".

"The issue was that over 20,000 seats went un-contested and the allegation was that the non-contest was due to the obstruction in the filing of the nomination papers. Another aspect, which has been highlighted, was that nomination papers were filed by the candidates of one party. We have to see as to what can be done in such a situation," the bench said.

The bench also disapproved the Calcutta High Court's order allowing the filing of nomination papers through e-mails and WhatsApp.

It, however, said it would consider the circumstances in which the High Court passed such a direction to infer that there were obstructions in the filing of nomination papers.

It has been alleged by the BJP and the CPI (M) that candidates from ruling All India Trinamool Congress in West Bengal were only allowed to file nomination papers and as a result, they won without any contest. 

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the state government, raised the issue of constitutional crisis in view of the fact that panchayat and local bodies have to be notified to avail funds to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore.

The counsel for the Trinamool Congress opposed the plea of BJP and CPI (M) and said that not a single affected candidate is a party before the apex court and it is the political parties which are before it. 

The apex court had earlier stayed the High Court order asking the state election body to accept the nomination papers filed through e-mail for panchayat elections and directed the poll panel not to declare in the Gazette the names of those candidates who had won unopposed.

The West Bengal government had, on the other hand, told the court that the row over the recently concluded panchayat polls in the state has led to a "constitutional crisis" since the tenure of several Panchayats were over and new bodies have not been made functional.

Out of a total 58,692 posts for gram panchayat village, zilla parishad and panchayat samiti, 20,159 had remained uncontested in the violence-marred local polls in the state held in May this year.

The poll panel, however, argued that 33 per cent of nearly 50,000 panchayat seats going uncontested in the state was not "an alarming situation". 

Elections were held in phases for 48,650 posts in Gram Panchayats, 825 posts in Zilla Parishads and 9,217 posts in Panchayat Samitis and it has been alleged that around 34 per cent seats were uncontested.

The court was hearing an appeal filed by the state election panel against the High Court order asking it to accept the nomination papers filed through e-mail for the panchayat elections.

(With inputs from PTI)

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