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10 May 2018

Panel moves SC on online nominations

TT, New Delhi/ Calcutta: The Bengal election commission on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging a high court order to accept online nominations of 831 CPM rural poll candidates, saying there was little time before Monday's planned vote.
Sources said the petition was yet to be listed before any bench. Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi is likely to appear before Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra's bench on Thursday to seek a stay on Tuesday's order and early hearing of the appeal, the sources said.
"The petition says it will be difficult for the panel to implement the high court's directive as the time is too short to accept nominations before polls on Monday," said a source.
A high court division bench headed by Justice Biswanath Somadder had directed the panel to accept the nominations of the 800-odd candidates who claimed they could not submit their papers because of Trinamul intimidation.
The state units of the BJP and the CPM have already filed caveats in the apex court pleading to be heard before any order is passed on the panel's appeal. Both the parties have accused Trinamul of unleashing "terror" to foil rivals' nominations.
While the panel has declared voting on May 14, a high court division bench led by Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya is due to rule on Thursday whether the voting can be held that day. It completed hearings on Tuesday during which the poll panel expressed satisfaction with the state's security arrangements.
Different district administrations said they were preparing to conduct the polls as planned on Monday despite the legal uncertainty over the date. "The poll panel had instructed us a few days ago to take the process forward for the polls on May 14," a district magistrate said on Wednesday.
Many of the state's 20 districts have already held "election duty polls" - for officials who leave home to conduct polls elsewhere - on Tuesday. The exercise will continue on Thursday and Friday.
District police chiefs have started working on deployment of forces in booths. The police chiefs had a videoconference with state police chief Surajit Kar Purkayastha and additional ADG (law and order) Anuj Sharma on Wednesday.
"Printing of ballots has been completed and poll observers reached the districts on Wednesday under prior instructions," said a DM.
At least two other DMs said the poll panel had not specified how to deal with the 831 online nominations of CPM candidates. "Such nominations include some for seats that have gone uncontested. We are not taking such nominations into consideration right now," said a district magistrate.
Poll panel sources said the elections might be "held back" in seats where valid nominations were filed through email while voting could go ahead in the rest. "But it is not clear whether results could be declared for other seats until elections are held in those deferred," said a source.

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