In an unprecedented move, the Calcutta High Court has asked the State Election Commission to treat as valid the nomination papers of nine candidates from Bhangore who had sent the same to the Block Development Officer via WhatsApp.
Justice Subrata Talukdar, before passing the order, took note of the document dated 23rd April, 2018, from the Commissioner addressed to the District Magistrate & District Panchayat Election Officer, South 24-Parganas, asking it to receive nomination papers of Entajul Khan and 10 others along with requisite fee and send them to the concerned BDO Office under adequate security.
The second document which the court took note of was an order of the District Magistrate and District Panchayat and Rural Development Officer dated 23rd April, 2018, disclosing compliance of the court’s order dated 23rd April, 2018, as having received the nomination papers of the petitioners.
It is to be noted that the 11 candidates had on April 23 informed the court that they have been unable to file their nominations inspite of the window of extension (one extra day) granted by the Commission.
“It transpires from the Report received from Polerhat – II Gram Panchayat that only one nomination has been filed in each of the 16 (sixteen) Constituencies till the 9th of April, 2018. Such submission of the Commission lends some credence to the stand taken by the petitioners that the petitioners, who are 11 (eleven) in number, have been unable to file their nominations inspite of the window of extension granted today by the Commission,” the court had noted on April 23.
It had also recorded the submissions of Nilanjan Sandilya, Secretary, West Bengal State Commission to the extent that the Commission shall extend its cooperation to enable the petitioners (nine in all) to file their nominations provided the nomination/papers are otherwise in order.
Pursuant to this, during the period when the nomination filing process was on, the petitioners were instructed on behalf of the Commission to file their papers at the office of the Sub-Divisional Officer, Alipore.
The petitioners, however, informed the court on Tuesday i.e. April 24 that while being told to wait at the office of the Sub-Divisional Office, Alipore, they were badly manhandled, their documents and accessories snatched by hooligans with the purpose of preventing them from filing their nomination papers.
Of the 11, nine sent their papers through WhatsApp.
“Having regard to the above referred documents of the Commissioner and the District Magistrate, both dated 23rd April, 2018 read in the light of the observations/directions of this Court also dated 23rd April, 2018 in this writ petition, the Commission shall now proceed to treat the nomination papers as valid nomination papers and the 9 (nine) petitioners shall be entitled to contest the 2018 Panchayat Election from their respective constituencies on the basis of such nominations filed,” ordered Justice Talukdar.