The Calcutta High Court today quashed the State Election Commission's order cancelling the notification for extension of deadline for filing nomination for panchayat polls in West Bengal and directed it to allow nominations by issuing a fresh notification.
Justice Subrata Talukdar held that that petitions, filed by the BJP, CPI(M) and other opposition parties, challenging the cancellation of notification are maintainable and asked the poll panel to issue fresh notification extending the date for filing nominations.
The court directed the commission to reschedule the dates for panchayat election process and accordingly conduct the polls.
The panchayat elections in West Bengal were to be held in three phases from May 1 to May 5 and the counting of votes was scheduled on May 8.
The nomination process for the panchayat polls ended on April 9, but it was extended by a day by the SEC the same evening following a Supreme Court court order on petitions alleging that candidates backed by opposition parties were being prevented from filing nominations .
The West Bengal government and ruling Trinamool Congress had objected to the extension by the SEC, which had cited a Supreme Court direction to "allay apprehensions of intending candidates" in its notification extending the nomination process by a day.
The notification, which referred to the apex court order, was withdrawn by the SEC on April 10 morning.
The BJP again moved the Supreme Court on April 11 and was directed to approach the high court with its grievances over the deadline for filing nominations.
The BJP moved the high court challenging the withdrawal and Justice Talukdar stayed the election process on April 12.
Apart from the BJP, the CPI(M), PDS and the Congress too have moved the high court separately challenging the SEC's decision.
The Commission and the ruling Trinamool Congress opposed the petitions claiming that these were not maintainable since the election process had started.