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HC directs SEC to ensure nomination of 11 GP candidates

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court today took note of allegations that candidates were being prevented from reaching the nomination filing office and directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to ensure that poll nominations of 11 candidates are filed in a gram panchayat.
The court said that the commission would lie in contempt if the order was not executed.
Justice Subrata Talukdar, on whose order the SEC extended the nomination process by a day for today, directed the commission to file a compliance report tomorrow.
The direction was passed on a plea by one Sharmistha Chowdhury representing 11 candidates for Polerhat II gram panchayat in South 24 Parganas district that despite the court's order extending the nomination day, candidates were not being allowed to reach the BDO office by armed hooligans.
She submitted to the court that no opposition candidate had been able to file their papers.
On a verbal direction by Justice Talukdar, the SEC secretary took information from the BDO office over phone and informed the court that only one nomination was filed in each of the 16 seats of Polerhat II gram panchayat in Bhangar area.
Noting this, the court said the fact that only one nomination was filed in each of the 16 seats gave credence to the petitioner's claim.
Justice Talukdar then directed the SEC secretary Nilanjan Shandilya, who represented the commission in the court, to ensure that the 11 candidates were able to file their nomination papers if otherwise found to be in order.
The area has been witness to a resistance movement against a power grid project by a section of local people, who are opposing the Trinamool Congress government's plans to go ahead with the setting up of a power substation there.
The petitioner is one of those who are leading the movement and is allegedly a member of a radical Left group.
On separate pleas by the Congress and Party of Democratic Socialism that the SEC has violated provisions of West Bengal Panchayat Act 2003 by not announcing the whole schedule of the election process, the court directed them to file their petitions and serve notice on the commission and state government.
The court also directed the two political parties to mention the petitions before it tomorrow morning.
The SEC, following the high court's order of April 20, had issued a fresh notification announcing April 23 as the extended date for the filing of nominations for the three-tier panchayat elections in the state.
The new dates for the polls, which were earlier scheduled on May 1, 3 and 5, have, however, not been declared by the commission in its new notification.
Scrutiny of the nominations received today will be held on April 25 and the last date for the withdrawal of candidature is April 28, the notification said.
The high court had on Friday quashed the SEC's April 10 order cancelling extension of the deadline for filing nominations and directed the commission to issue a fresh notification after consultations with the state authorities and other stakeholders.
Justice Talukdar had directed the commission to "reschedule the further dates in the election process as per statutory framework" and carry it forward from the extended date of filing nominations.
The high court had earlier stayed the election process on petitions by the BJP, the CPI(M) and the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), challenging the SEC's withdrawal of the notification extending the date for filing nominations by a day.

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