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Panchayat polls: Calcutta High Court directs West Bengal State Election Commission to deploy Central forces within 48 hours

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The High Court of Calcutta on Thursday directed the State Election Commission of West Bengal to deploy Central forces for all districts in the state within 48 hours for the Panchayat polls, scheduled to be held on July 8.

The order was passed by the Division Bench of Chief Justice Sivagnaman and Justice Uday Kumar on a petition filed by Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Legislative Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari.

Noting that a direction for earmarking sensitive areas and deploying forces was passed on Tuesday but no appreciable steps were taken in this regard, the High Court ordered the Commission to immediately requisition the deployment of Central forces within 48 hours of the Court judgement for all districts of West Bengal.

On submission of the Commission that it may take a couple of days to identify sensitive areas from the law and order point of view, the Bench noted that taking more time would only cause more damage and would not help the ‘purity’ of the election process.

The High Court ruled that the costs for the deployment would be borne by the Central government and no costs would be charged from the state of West Bengal.

It also directed the SEC to ask its election officers to display their identity cards and whenever called upon, prove their identity during the election process. 

(Case title: Suvendu Adhikari and Anr vs State of West Bengal and Ors)

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