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8 May 2018

Hearing continues, uncertainty lingers

TT, Calcutta: The cloud of uncertainty over Bengal rural polls on May 14 deepened as the hearing on the CPM's plea to accept nominations filed online would continue in Calcutta High Court on Tuesday.
A division bench led by Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya was supposed to pronounce its verdict on Tuesday on the state election commission's decision to hold the voting on May 14 after a review of security measures for the polls.
Since that case is subject to the verdict by a division bench headed by Justice Biswanath Somadder on the CPM's petition, there was a general expectation that the Left party's plea would be disposed on Monday.
"You come to this court at 10.30 am tomorrow (Tuesday)," said Justice Biswanath Somadder after a day-long hearing on Monday.
The judicial approval from the bench headed by the Chief Justice became mandatory on the basis of an order passed by a single bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar. Since the poll panel had violated an earlier order of Justice Talukdar and announced the voting day without informing the court, the judge had declared the May 14 date as "tentative".
During the hearing of the CPM's petition on Monday, the division bench directed the election commission to furnish a list of complaints it had received on April 23 from the prospective candidates who could not file nominations because of alleged resistance by Trinamul-backed goons.
The commission had given a single day window of April 23 for filing of nominations following intervention by the high court.
"Submit a list of the names, who lodged complaints in your office and also inform us of the steps your client took with regard to those complaints," Justice Sommader asked election commission counsel Nayan Chand Behani.
The lawyer replied that a total of 340 complaints had been received on April 23.
Then, the court asked Trinamul advocate Kalyan Banerjee how many candidates would contest in the panchayat elections. "I have no idea. But the polls would he held in 58,000-plus seats. So, it can be assumed that lakhs of candidates are taking part in the elections."
Although Banerjee rolled out a ball-parked estimate, the rural polls were supposed to be held in 58,692 seats. As Opposition parties could not file nominations freely, the number has come down to around 38,000.
Justice Somadder asked CPM counsel Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya how many CPM candidates had filed nominations online on April 23.
"Nearly 800 nominees," Bhattachraryya replied.

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