Add union home ministry as respondent in Bengal poll row: Court

Kolkata, June 18 (IANS) The Calcutta High Court Tuesday asked the West Bengal State Election Commission to include the union home ministry with regard to the panel’s ongoing legal battle with the state government on the upcoming panchayat polls.

Acting on a fresh application moved by the panel, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi directed it to include the union ministry as a respondent.

The SEC application claimed despite the court’s order, the West Bengal government had not provided adequate security personnel for holding the polls and pleaded with the judges for a direction to the state for complying with its previous orders.

The directive to add the central government in the list of respondents is significant because only it can now fill up the shortfall in the number of security personnel needed for the polls.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said that the central government has turned down the state regime’s request for sending 300 companies of central forces.

The court in its order May 14 said the state government should seek forces from central or other state government to meet any shortfall.

The election commission lawyer had said during a hearing earlier this month that additional forces have not been made available to the commission.

The court June 13 held that the commission enjoyed primacy in holding the panchayat elections, and ruled it would decide on the quantum of forces, with the state government making the arrangements.

The matter will again be taken up for hearing Wednesday.

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