Bengal: SC refuses to cancel polls on 20,000 uncontested panchayat seats

New Delhi : In a relief to the Trinamool Congress whose candidates had won over 20,000 local body seats in West Bengal uncontested, the Supreme Court on Friday turned down the pleas of the CPI(M) and BJP seeking cancellation of the polls on grounds of alleged obstruction in the filing of nomination papers.

The top court, while refusing to set aside the elections to the uncontested seats in the violence-marred panchayat polls, referred to the settled legal principle and said once the election process has commenced, it is “trite law” that it should not be interdicted mid-stage, reports PTI.

Out of total of 58,692 seats combined for ‘Gram Panchayats’, ‘Panchayat Samiti’ and ‘Zila Parishads’, 20,159 seats were uncontested.

The court also set aside the Calcutta High Court order directing the state poll panel to allow filing of nomination papers in panchayat elections through electronic forms, such as e-mails and WhatsApp.

“We are of the view that challenges in regard to the validity of the elections to the uncontested seats in the panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads must also be pursued in election petitions under Section 79(1) of the Panchayat Elections Act.

“We leave it open to any person aggrieved to raise a dispute in the form of an election petition in accordance with the provisions contained in the Panchayat Elections Act,” a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said, observing that a general observation on the uncontested seats cannot be made as it would depend on the evidence in each individual case.

The bench, however, took note of the allegations and allowed the aggrieved candidates to file election petitions to challenge the polls in the concerned courts.

Exercising the extraordinary power under Article 142 of the Constitution, it directed that the limitation period of 30 days for filing poll petitions, which has expired, would now commence from the date of notification of panchayat poll results.

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