New Delhi, May 10: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the declaration of results in over 18,000 panchayat seats where the ruling Trinamool Congress 'won' without a contest. The rural segments, accounting for over 34 per cent of the seats to be contested in the upcoming West Bengal panchayat elections, were wrested by the TMC as no Opposition candidates were able to file their nominations.
The top court was hearing a petition filed by the Bengal units of BJP, Congress and CPI(M), seeking the deferment of panchayat polls in the state. The petitioners had also demanded the deployment of central forces for the conduct of elections.
The court, while restraining the State Election Commission from declaring results in over 18,000 seats where no Opposition candidate was in the fray, refrained from ordering the deferment of polls.
The SC bench said elections would be conducted as per the schedule on May 14. However, the notification on declaration of results could not be released by the SEC till July 3, as per the court's directive.
Supreme Court said #WestBengal Panchayat elections will be held on May 14, as per the earlier schedule. SC asked State Election Commission & state government to ensure free and fair polls. SC asked State EC not to issue notification on declaration of results till July 3 pic.twitter.com/bW5Yz0KwId
— ANI (@ANI) May 10, 2018
Calling the court order a reprimand for the ruling TMC, BJP leader Chandra Bose said, "The Mamata Banerjee regime has been exposed once again. They are murdering democracy in Bengal. What kind of democracy it is where no Opposition candidate could even file nominations in one-third of the state?"
Congress' Bengal unit chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also hailed the top court order, saying, "The judiciary has come to the rescue of democracy. This is a victory not just for the Opposition, but also every citizen who wishes to keep democracy alive in Bengal."
Panchayat polls in West Bengal are scheduled to be conducted on May 14 in a total of 48,650 seats in 3,358 gram panchayats, 825 seats across 20 zilla parishads, along with 9,217 seats in 341 panchayat samitis.