Panchayat Polls: SC Stays E-Nominations In West Bengal

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Culcutta HC order of nominations sent through e-mail for the panchayat poll elections. Taking note of the submission that about 34 per cent of candidates had won the panchayat polls unopposed, the Supreme Court said it was “worried” and restrained the SEC from declaring the results of these constituencies.

Hearing a petition filed by the SEC, a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud directed that “the election process in respect of the constituencies shall be completed in all aspects and the results of the election can be notified as per law”. It added that “the petitioners shall not notify the results in respect of the constituencies where there has been no contest, without the leave of this Court”.

The bench asked the SEC to ensure that the elections, scheduled for May 14, are held in “absolute fairness, keeping in view the concept of purity of an election in a democracy”.

Acting on a plea filed by the CPI(M), the Calcutta High Court had, on May 8, asked the SEC to accept nominations which were filed electronically within the stipulated time.

The SEC, however, challenged this order in the Supreme Court, saying there was no time left and the HC had read the Information Technology Act into the Representation of the People Act. If the IT Act was to be applied, the nominations would have to be supported by digital signatures, contended senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi who appeared for the SEC.

Procedures like scrutiny of nominations, withdrawal etc had been bypassed, he said, adding that the direction was most “absurd”.

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