The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the Calcutta High Court order that allowed for online acceptance of the application of those candidates who had filed their papers before April 23. The State Election Commission (SEC), had appealed to the Apex Court to not make the Calcutta HC order operative saying that it would suffer "irreparable loss and injury" if the high court's order was followed. The top court took note of SEC's plea and said that the state government and SEC would ensure "free and fair" Panchayat Elections.
The Calcutta High Court had given its judgement making it mandatory for the SEC to accept nominations of candidates through emails after taking into account that the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) Party had won more than 20,000 seats or 34% of seats unopposed. It means that the TMC candidates from these seats did not have any opposing candidates and hence won the seats by default. However, taking into account the SEC's plea, the top court cancelled the Calcutta High Court's order.
The Supreme Court hearing bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra said that the panchayat elections will be held as scheduled on May 14, and that the SEC and state government will ensure that "free and fair" polls are conducted in the state.
The SC did express concern about nearly 20,000 panchayat seats that went to the Trinamool Congress without a contest. It directed the SEC that no notification should be issued regarding the result till July 3.
The apex court took note of the Calcutta HC order accepting email filing of the nomination and expressed its disapproval.
The High Court on May 8, had instructed the SEC to accept the nominations of candidates named by CPM who had filed their papers electronically. The cut off time for the same was April 23, till 3 pm. But with the Supreme Court now setting aside the high court's order addressing the plea of SEC, the nominations of those candidates who filed online nominations stand cancelled.