In a major setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Supreme Court on Monday refused to extend the last date for the filing of nominations for West Bengal panchayat polls.
While hearing a plea filed by the West Bengal unit of the BJP, the Supreme Court said that it could not interfere with the election process and asked the party to approach the State Election Commission.
“We have not interfered with the election process but we have granted liberty to all candidates to approach State Election Commission today itself for necessary relief,” a bench of Justices R K Agrawal and A M Sapre said.
Earlier on Friday, the BJP told the apex court that the “democracy is being murdered” in West Bengal as the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) was not allowing its candidates to file nominations for the upcoming panchayat polls.
The BJP alleged that the TMC was engaged in large-scale poll violence and the assistant panchayat electoral registration officers appointed by the West Bengal State Election Commission were refusing to give nomination forms to BJP candidates.
The BJP was seeking an extension of the last date for filing nomination papers, online availability of nomination forms, and deployment of paramilitary forces for the upcoming polls.
The panchayat elections are scheduled to be held in West Bengal on May 1, 3 and 5 while the counting of votes will take place on May 8.
The last date for filing of nominations papers was April 9 and the last date of scrutiny of the nominations is April 11.
(With inputs from agencies)