No compromise on holding of free, fair & peaceful polls: Bengal SEC

The West Bengal State Election Commission told the Calcutta HC that a government was not an independent body because it was run by a political party in power.

Kolkata: The West Bengal State Election Commission on Thursday told the Calcutta High Court that a government was not an independent body because it was run by a political party in power, while reiterating that the SEC was the sole authority to ensure a free, fair and peaceful election.

Samaraditya Pal, counsel for SEC, which has moved the high court against the West Bengal government over holding of panchayat elections in the state, submitted before Justice Biswanth Somadder that there could be no compromise in ensuring free, fair and peaceful elections.

Stating that the SEC`s prayer was on four points, Pal submitted that the foremost was deployment of adequate security forces, including 800 companies of central paramilitary forces.

Of this, 300 companies were required during nomination Pal stated during the hearing, which continued beyond normal court hours till 6:15 pm as per the directive of Justice Somadder.

The other moot points were appointment of 400 observers, SEC`s claim of overriding powers on the number of phases and districts in each phase and funds to be provided by the state to the commission for conducting the elections.

Claiming that there was precedence of deployment of central forces for local body elections in the state, Pal cited the 2010 municipal elections, when central paramilitary forces were deployed and only one person had died in violence.

He submitted that the central paramilitary forces were needed for area domination, patrolling, guarding of sensitive areas, poll booths and poll premises to instill confidence among the people and fear in the minds of miscreants.

Pal also referred to recent incidents of violence in the state -- gunning down of a police officer during elections at the Harimohan Ghosh in Garden Reach, vandalism in the prestigious Presidency University and the fallout of attack on state Finance minister Amit Mitra in New Delhi.

He claimed that law and order in the state was not as good as claimed by the state government and that it warranted deployment of central forces to ensure peaceful elections.

The hearing would continue tomorrow.