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Judicial setback for TMC
With little smearable space left on its face, the Trinamool Congress Government got some more trouble as a Division Bench of Calcutta High Court on Monday turned down its petition of appeal against a Single Bench order granting interim stay on a baffling circular issued by a vacillating State Election Commission — allegedly working under the influence of the ruling party — extending the deadline of filing nomination for panchayat polls by a day before calling it back within hours.
Its far-reaching consequence be measured, the Monday’s order could throw cold water on the State’s “strong resolve” to complete by May 8, the three-tier rural polls — a nearly one-sided exercise — already dismissed by the Opposition parties as a sham in the absence of central forces and with thousands of their candidates having failed to file nominations in the face of large-scale violence perpetrated by the armed-to-teeth Trinamool cadres.
Justices BN Somaddar and Arindam Mukherjee hearing both the sides sent the matter back to the Single Bench wondering why the TMC had moved the Division Bench with the Single Bench was still in the process of hearing it.
Meanwhile, the One Judge Bench of Justice S Taluqdar who was scheduled to hear the matter on Monday postponed it for Tuesday until the matter was disposed off by the Division Bench. Till then its order granting the interim stay on election process would hold.
This means that the Trinamool Congress’ hands down unopposed victories in numerous seats and boards would continue to be under the clouds.
The Division Bench returned the matter to the Single Bench with a request of it being heard speedily — preferably on daily-basis.
TMC MP and its counsel Kalyan Banerjee later said he would argue the matter on its “very maintainability” in the Single Bench as the BJP and the CPI(M) had earlier rushed to the court challenging the SEC forward roll: first extending the deadline for filing of nomination in the face of large-scale violence and then withdrawing it arguably after being bulldozed by three powerful Ministers of Mamata Banerjee Cabinet who had landed at his residence almost in the wee hours of April 10.
Meanwhile Justice Taluqdar on Monday extended the stay on the panchayat elections till Tuesday noon when he would resume the hearing. He had earlier stayed the poll process on April 12 till April 16 and had directed the SEC to submit a comprehensive report including filing of nomination apart from action taken reports on complaints where such nominations where being hindered.
A Court intervening in the election process after it had started was unprecedented and the Calcutta High Court order could be taken as a precedent in subsequent times experts said.
The import of Monday’s order was promptly taken by the Opposition parties as, “victory not only of BJP or the Congress or the Left but a moral victory for the people of Bengal and democracy as such.”
The TMC had been trying to loot votes and gag democracy in the State through rampant violence carried out by its cadres but the Court order comes as a relief for the people of the State, BJP leader Mukul Roy said adding “even the CPI(M) had once though that they will not go from power but they went in 2011. Likewise the days of Mamata Banerjee Government have come and they will be out between 2019 and 2021.”
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