[WB Panchayat Polls] Declaration of Results Will Be Subject To Orders of Court: Calcutta High Court

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The court while dealing with the issue said that it is unclear why the State Election Commission is not being proactive, especially when the Court has been monitoring the entire process

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday held that the entire election process, including the results, will be subject to future directives from the court.

A division bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya stated that the Court had been giving various decisions and even closely monitoring the entire process since the day the notification for the Panchayat elections was issued.

“The conduct of the elections and the declaration of the results will be subject to the ultimate orders that may be passed in these writ petitions,” the court said.

The court also said that this should be made a note of by the State Election Commission to all the candidates, who have been declared elected and informed that their declaration of having been elected will be subject to further orders to be passed by the Court.

The court was hearing a writ petition seeking to quash the decision of the State Election Commission consequent upon the large-scale violence and electoral malpractice, which occurred during the Panchayat Elections on 8th July, 2023.

The petitioner also prayed for re-polling at 698 booths. Further through the plea, the petitioner seeks a probe by an independent agency to conduct a forensic audit of the video footage of the polling booths as well as the forensic examination and audit of the ballot papers and other polling paraphernalia and submit a report before this Court.

Furthermore, it was prayed to direct the Secretary, Department of Home and Hill Affairs Government of West Bengal to forward a report to the Central Government with regard to the incidences of bomb blasts that occurred during the election on July 08, 2023.

After hearing all the arguments and submissions, the court noted that there was not a single officer of the State Election Commission present in the Court to give necessary instructions even today.

“It is unclear why the State Election Commission is not being proactive, especially when the Court has been monitoring the entire process,” the court added.

The court while dealing with the prayer of re-polling observed that if the State Election Commission felt it necessary to order re-polling in 698 booths, it goes without saying that there should be some foundation for that decision.

Further, the bench directed the West Bengal government to take all possible efforts to control the situation, while also ordering the State Election Commission (SEC), the State, and the Central government to file their reply to the plea.

“The Court is surprised to note that even after the declaration of the results, the State is not able to control the violence, which had erupted in several places. It is the state government's duty to maintain peace in the state,” the bench highlighted.

Accordingly, the court directed the SEC, the state government and the central government to file their affidavits dealing with all the allegations made in the petitions.

Case Title: Suvendhu Adhikari & Ors vs. State of West Bengal & Ors