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HC refuses to interfere in Panchayat polls, throws out Oppn petition

Kolkata: Refusing to interfere in the Panchayat election process on Tuesday, the Calcutta High Court dismissed a petition filed by the BJP and the Congress which sought court monitoring of the entire poll process. On the other hand, the State Election Commission (SEC) did not announce the dates for the polls even on Tuesday, being unable to arrive at a consensus with the state government.
Justice Subrata Talukdar directed the SEC to hold meaningful consultations with all stakeholders on security arrangements for the Panchayat elections.
Justice Talukdar also asked the state poll body to inform a division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice J. Bhattacharya on the security arrangements. Justice Talukdar also directed the opposition parties to approach the division bench over the same.
The High Court asked senior advocate and Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee to file a complaint against state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, if he wished to, over the latter 's inflammatory speeches. Justice Talukdar asked Banerjee to file a separate petition, if he so desired, regarding this, and added that the court would then take up the matter.
The SEC was expected to announce the dates for the elections on Tuesday. Sourav Das, OSD of the state Panchayat department held an hour-long meeting with the officials of the commission at the SEC office at Rawdon Street on Tuesday afternoon. Das then went directly to Nabanna and met state Chief Secretary Malay De and other senior officials. He was scheduled to come back and hold another meeting with SEC but the meeting was postponed till Wednesday afternoon.
It is learnt that the SEC wants to make a proper scrutiny of the court order and then announce the dates.
Meanwhile, allowing the use of social networking platforms in the elections, the Court directed the SEC to accept the nominations of 11 candidates contesting the Panchayat polls at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas through WhatsApp.
Justice Talukdar cautioned the state poll panel that the high court might even stall the poll process if the directive was not followed. According to the judge, the 11 candidates should be allowed to fight the polls.
The high court's ruling came following a petition filed CPI-ML Red Star leader Sharmishtha Chowdhury.
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