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WB SEC's counsel, Advocate General meet over panchayat polls

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

In a bid to resolve the stalemate over the panchayat elections in West Bengal, the State Election Commission's counsel met the Advocate General this evening at the prodding of Justice Biswanath Somadder of the Calcutta High Court.

SEC counsel Samaraditya Pal met Advocate General Bimal Chatterjee at his residence and discussed the issue for a little over one hour from 7:30 PM. They did not speak to the media on the matter.

Justice Somadder, who is hearing a petition of the SEC against the government on the panchayat polls in the state, had yesterday stated that it appeared that both the government and the commission were anxious to hold the elections in time, but a mechanism should be put in place to ensure that it was free and fair.

The judge had requested the SEC's counsel and the Advocate General to sit together over the weekend so that something could be worked out.

While the state government wants to hold the elections with its own police force and if necessary, requisition them from neighbouring states, the commission has been adamant on its demand for Central paramilitary forces.

It has demanded that 800 companies of Central forces be requisitioned and deployed for the elections.

The state government had rejected the demand claiming that it was unprecedented and unnecessary.

It had earlier announced April 26 and April 30 as the dates for panchayat elections, but the SEC had challenged it before the High Court as unilateral and arbitrary.

In its petition, the commission claimed that Section 42 of the West Bengal Panchayat Election Act, which held that the state government was empowered to notify the election in consultation with it, was unconstitutional.

The Advocate General had yesterday told the court that it has decided on new dates for the election -- May 5 and May 8.

First Published: Fri, April 05 2013. 22:20 IST