Panchayat polls: HC refuses to stay order

A division of Calcutta high court on Monday rejected the Mamata Banerjee government’s prayer for an interim stay on a single bench order which called for a three-phase panchayat election under the supervision of Central forces. The division bench comprising Chief Justice Arum Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi, however, admitted the government’s appeal against the order .
The division bench, however, made it clear that panchayat polls could not be shelved because they were “constitutional obligation which could not be postponed.”
There would be a daily hearing for expeditious disposal of the case. The court is expected to pass an order by next Friday because thereafter it will be closed for a month for summer vacation.
On Friday, the single bench comprising Biswanath Sommader had passed an order impressing upon the state government the primacy of the commission. Upholding virtually all the demands of the state election commission, Justice Sommader had directed a three-phase panchayat poll with deployment of central forces.
It had also asked the state government to submit a list of 400 observers within 24 hours. Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee had said that it was impractical to implement and therefore, he would challenge it in a division bench.
On Monday, the state advocate general prayed for a stay but the bench refused to suspend the single bench’s order. The state advocate general Bimal Chatterjee contested the state election commission’s demand for 800 companies of security forces and deployment of at least two security personnel in each polling boot.
The court directed the commission to submit list of sensitive and hyper sensitive polling booths.
The lawyer of the commission Lakhichand Behani said that the division bench said that if needed the court would extend the deadline for submission of the list.

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