Calcutta High Court sends Panchayat poll case back to single bench

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Scores of Congress leaders, led by West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, today began a day-long sit-on-fast-demonstration in the city to protest the alleged largescale violence across the state during and post filing of nomination papers for Panchayat polls, while a Division Bench of Calcutta High court was presently hearing a case related to Panchayat election.

However, the division bench of Justice Biswanath Samaddar and Justice Arindam Mukherjee on Monday evening disposed off the appeal filed by the ruling Trinamool Congress and the State Election Commission, stating it did not want to interfere with the case at this stage as it was already pending before the single bench.

Justice Talukdar on Monday extended the stay till the next hearing, fixed for on Tuesday at 2 pm.

The parties are also aggrived with the SEC after the poll panel withdrew its earlier order of extending the filing of nominations by a day, within a few hours of issuing the order last week.

The Division Bench returned the matter to the Single Bench with a request of it being heard speedily - preferably on daily-basis.

The SEC and the Trinamool Congress had moved the appeal before the division bench, challenging the stay on the election process and on the maintainability of BJP's petition.

TMC MP and its counsel Kalyan Banerjee later said he would argue the matter on its "very maintainability" in the Single Bench as the BJP and the CPI (M) had earlier rushed to the court challenging the SEC forward roll: first extending the deadline for filing of nomination in the face of large-scale violence and then withdrawing it arguably after being bulldozed by three powerful Ministers of Mamata Banerjee Cabinet who had landed at his residence nearly in the wee hours of April 10.

Staying the election process on April 12, Justice Talukdar had directed the SEC to file a comprehensive status report on the poll process, detailing the number of nominations filed and the percentage of nominations rejected, among other information.

The poll will take place in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5.

The division bench, however, said that since the case was on at the single bench, it was not going to make any observation because even half an observation would prejudice the mind of the court.

The Calcutta High Court has halted the panchayat poll procedure on a petition filed by the BJP.

Justice Talukdar had held that the BJP moved both the high court and the Supreme Court on similar pleas and imposed the cost.