Calcutta High Court Orders CBI Probe Into Document Tampering Allegations During Bengal Panchayat Polls

The Calcutta High Court on Saturday directed a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into incidents of violence that erupted over filing of nominations for West Bengal Panchayat Polls.

West Bengal Panchayat Elections 2023

The Calcutta High Court on Saturday directed a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into an allegation of tampering with documents and misrepresenting information by a returning officer in Howrah district's Uluberia I block for the July 8 West Bengal panchayat elections.

Two petitioners, who are candidates, raised the allegation against the panchayat poll returning officer of the block, claiming that the officer concerned had tampered with the documents filed by them at the time of filing nomination.

The petitioners' lawyer Sabyasachi Chatterjee submitted that both the candidates are of OBC-A category having proper certificates, but in the documents of the panchayat election officer it was mentioned SC-W and that it was pending in their record.

Justice Amrita Sinha directed the joint director, CBI to probe into the allegation by July 5 and submit a report before the court on July 7, when the matter would be heard again.

The state witnessed widespread violence ahead of the panchayat elections, leaving at least six people dead and several injured in various parts of the state. 

The semi-rural area of Bhangore in South 24 Parganas District, was also the scene of political clashes between Indian Secular Front (ISF), a party floated by a Muslim cleric and the ruling TMC. West Bengal Governor VC Anand Bose visited the violence affected area of Canning, South 24 Parganas during the nomination process.

On June 17, a TMC candidate for elections Mustafa Sheikh was reportedly beaten to death in Malda district. He was attacked by unidentified miscreants in the Sujapur area who beat him up, police officials said as per PTI. He was later taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.

Opposition parties have been alleging that the ruling TMC supporters resorted to violence to prevent their candidates from filing nomination papers. The state however claimed before the court that until last week, more opposition candidates filed nominations than those of the ruling party. 

Central Forces Personnel

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed the West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) to requisition more than 82,000 central forces personnel within 24 hours for deployment in panchayat elections.

A division bench presided by Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam noted that the SEC had requisitioned 82,000 central forces personnel during the 2013 panchayat elections in the state. 

Noting that the number of districts in West Bengal has increased from 17 in 2013 to 22 at present, and also that the number of the electorate has increased in these 10 years, the court directed the SEC to requisition in 24 hours a sufficient number of central forces personnel. The court directed that the number of companies to be requisitioned has to be more than that for the 2013 elections.

The court further observed that any attempt to make the order unworkable may result in adverse consequences. The SEC counsel submitted that whatever the court feels will be adequate, requisition for that will immediately be sent to the central government.