WB Panchayat Polls: HC Refuses Order On Petition Seeking Nomination Through E-mail

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Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday refused to pass any order on a petition seeking direction to the State Election Commission (SEC) to accept nominations for panchayat elections in West Bengal sent to through e-mail, saying that it did not wish to interfere.

Observing that no special circumstance has been warranted to issue any such direction, Justice Subrata Talukdar disposed of the petition by the CPI(M). Justice Talukdar said that the court had already expressed its views on the panchayat election process and that there would be no interference from the court over this petition by the Left party.

Justice Talukdar had held that petitions, filed by the BJP, CPI(M) and other opposition parties, challenging the cancellation of notification were maintainable and directed the Commission to reschedule the dates for panchayat election process and accordingly conduct the polls.

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Representing CPI(M), Bikash Bhattacharya today prayed for direction to the SEC to accept e-mailed nominations and said the Information Technology Act permitted submission of forms through e-mail.

He also submitted that nominations of nine candidates were accepted by the commission through ‘WhatsApp’ on April 23 evening after official hours for filing nominations between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm.

SEC secretary Nilanjan Shandilya opposed the petition, submitting before the court that according to the West Bengal Panchayat Act 2003, nominations must be filed by a candidate or his proposer in person before the designated office.

He stated that the nine nominations were accepted under special circumstances. Nine of the 11 candidates filed their nominations using WhatsApp, Sharmistha Chowdhury, representing the candidates in the court, informed Justice Talukdar yesterday.

The candidates had sent photos of their filled up nomination papers to the authorities concerned through WhatsApp as they were manhandled and their papers were snatched at the Alipore Survey Building where they had been directed to go by the Commission to file their nominations, she claimed.

Justice Talukdar had then directed the SEC secretary to treat the nominations of the nine candidates as valid and said that no uncertainty would be accepted by the court over technicalities.

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