HC orders Bengal rural polls in 3 phases

The Calcutta high court on Tuesday ordered that panchayat polls must be completed in three phases by July 15. A balanced verdict said that the dispute between the Mamata Banerjee government and state election commission over the rural polls was “amicably settled.”
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Joymalya Bagchi, upheld a previous judgment of the single bench in favour of three-phased polls as desired by the commission but it also accepted the state government’s contention that 800 companies of Central paramilitary forces were not necessary. The court asked the state government to announce the dates of the election within three days in consultation with the commission.
Welcoming the order, CM Mamata Banerjee said the rural people would be able to elect a new three-tier panchayat.
Reiterating her old charge, she said: “I had wanted the elections to be held in winter but the Opposition parties like CPI(M), Congress and BJP wanted to stall the polls. They went to court.” Pointing out that now the panchayat polls would have to be organised in extreme heat and rains, she said: “All’s well that ends well.”
Hailing the court order, panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said it foiled the conspiracy which was hatched to derail the polls by the opposition and the state election commission.
Welcoming the order, CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose said that the state government and commission should ensure free and peaceful election.
State advocate general Bimal Chatterjee informed the court that the commission had placed its demand for 800 companies of Central paramilitary forces in September 2012 without making any assessment of the ground reality. After the verdict, the state counsel Ashok Banerjee said that the commission’s insistence on Central forces had no basis.
“Our stand was clear: law and order in Bengal was not so bad that there was need for 800 companies of Central forces. We are glad that the court accepted our argument,” he added.

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