Kolkata, 17th June 2023: The West Bengal government and the State Election Commission have jointly approached the Supreme Court on Saturday to challenge the High Court’s order pertaining to the deployment of central forces for the upcoming panchayat elections in the state.
Sources within the Election Commission reveal that the decision to appeal the High Court’s order in the apex court was made following a meeting between senior officials of the State Election Commission and the government’s legal advisors on Friday.
On Thursday, the Calcutta High Court had instructed the State Election Commission (SEC) to urgently request the deployment of central forces across the state within 48 hours, in preparation for the panchayat elections scheduled for July 8.
Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam, leading the High Court bench, stated in the directive that an order had been issued on June 13 to deploy central forces in sensitive areas for the election process, but no significant action had been taken since then.
It is important to note that instances of violence were reported from several locations in the state during the filing of nomination papers for the panchayat elections. In response to petitions filed by opposition parties regarding these incidents, the High Court directed the commission to request the deployment of central forces in all districts of the state. The court provided a deadline of 48 hours for the commission to comply with its instructions.
The petitioners had specifically sought the deployment of central forces to ensure peaceful elections, citing widespread violence during the 2022 municipal elections and the 2021 Kolkata Municipal Corporation elections. Opposition parties have alleged that supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress had resorted to violence in order to prevent their candidates from filing nomination papers.
With the matter now being brought before the Supreme Court, both the West Bengal government and the State Election Commission await further legal proceedings to determine the course of action regarding the deployment of central forces for the upcoming panchayat elections in the state.