Supreme Court ruled against interfering in West Bengal Panchayat elections

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The Supreme Court has refused to grant the plea of the West Bengal unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wing today and chose not to interfere with the West Bengal Panchayat elections.

Facts of the case

The West Bengal BJP wing had approached the Apex Court on Monday, 9th April to stop the ruling Trinamool Congress Party’s (TMC) violence in the upcoming Panchayat elections. The petitioner represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi stated that West Bengal had turned into “a troubled state” where the ruling party cadres are responsible for “murdering the democracy.”

The BJP wing of West Bengal in their plea alleged that their workers were being targeted by TMC personnel in Katwa and Kalna regions of West Bengal. The party leaders were harassed by the Block Development Officers (BDOs) who have been selected by State Election Commission (SEC) as Assistant Panchayat Electoral Registration Officers. The BJP candidates nominations were being rejected by such Registration Officers.

The petitioner sought the interference of the Supreme Court in this matter because of the ongoing strike in the High Court since February 19. They urged the Apex Court to direct the ruling party in West Bengal to arrange for a fair election in the Panchayat. They also wanted the privilege to file online nominations and to extend the date of filing nominations, the last date being April 9.

Court ruling

All the allegations of the West Bengal unit of BJP in their plea were refuted by the West Bengal government represented by senior counsel A M Singhvi who categorically denied any wrongdoing by the TMC. He further stated that the BJP is falsifying accounts in order to create trouble as the party has “no presence in West Bengal.”

He alleged that the BJP party in West Bengal has failed to garner any support and hence they are fomenting trouble in last bit of attempt in trying to catch the Centre’s attention. He presented in the Court the nominations that were already filed by the BJP candidates. He denied the presence of any violence in the State and police inactions or brutalities. He assured the Apex Court that the West Bengal government will ensure a free and fair election in the Panchayat in the upcoming polls of the next month.

A division bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices R K Agrawal and A M Sapre heard the case and delivered their verdict today. The Court refused any kind of interference in the upcoming Panchayat elections in West Bengal and advised the BJP party to approach the SEC as a measure to redress their grievances. The Court also refused to grant the plea of sending CRPF personnel in a bid to ensure free and fair elections. The Court seemed satisfied with the measures already implemented by the ruling party and thus ruled in favour of the TMC.

The BJP acknowledged that the verdict is a massive blow for them and BJP state president Dilip Ghosh showed his disappointment when he stated, “there was a premonition that our plea would be turned down. If the SC had overruled it, we will abide by the decisions.” TMC MP and lawyer Kalyan Banerjee, on the other hand, was happy with the Apex Court’s verdict and mentioned, “it means that the West Bengal government have been doing its work good enough.” After this verdict of the Supreme Court now everyone’s attention will be focussed on the upcoming Panchayat elections of West Bengal to be held in three phases on May 1, 3, and 5 and the votes are to be counted on May 8.

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