SC Postpones WB Panchayat Polls Verdict

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has postponed the much-awaited verdict on the West
Bengal Panchayat polls. The reason for postponement was the absence of Justice. The
verdict will be delivered on next Monday.

In the last hearing, the Supreme Court had observed that there was malpractice in the recent panchayat elections in West Bengal and called it ‘shocking’. Referring to statistics on uncontested seats in various districts in the panchayat polls, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said a few hundred can be understood, but this is in thousand.

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The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) had won 34 per cent of seats uncontested in the
gram panchayat polls. As per the data released by the West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) 20,076 of the 58,692 seats were gone uncontested.

The TMC won 16,814 of the 48,650 Gram Panchayat seats while the party won 3,059 of
9,217 Panchayat Samity seats uncontested. Moreover, of the 825 Zilla Parishad seats, the Mamata Banerjee-led party was declared the winner in 203 seats. The SEC data revealed that most of the seats where TMC won without any contest are in the districts of Birbhum, Bankura, Murshidabad and South 24 Parganas.

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 bench questioned the decisions of the state election body and said it had first extended the time limit for filing of nomination papers and took back the decision
within a day.

“You (state election commission) are the guardian of law. It was vivid that so many
seats were going uncontested,” it said, adding “if nobody is contesting, then there will be no litigation. The fact that there were litigations and it means that everyone was aware of the fact that something was missing”.

Senior advocate P S Patwalia, appearing for West Bengal unit of BJP, said violent incidents took place during the elections and people were not allowed to file their nomination papers. He also provided a district-wise break-up of the uncontested
seats.

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