Supreme Court Rules Constitutional Mandate For Democracy Not Working In WB

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New Delhi: In a country where there is fight for every single seat 20159 panchayat seats going uncontested is a big mystery. The Supreme Court expressed shock over 20,159 of 58,692 seats going uncontested in the recently held West Bengal panchayat elections. The court said it appeared that the constitutional mandate for democracy at the grassroots level was not working in the state.

The State Election Commission attempted to make light of 34% of seats going uncontested by saying that it had received complaints about candidates being prevented from filing nominations only in over 1,000 seats and that it had taken appropriate action. Appearing for the SEC, senior advocate Amarendra Saran said there was nothing left for the SC to decide as the polls had concluded and results declared.

Appearing for TMC, senior advocate KalyanBandopadhyay brushed aside the allegations of BJP and CPM, which accused TMC of using muscle power, by recalling that Bengal had a history of no-contest in panchayat polls.

But a bench of Chief Justice DipakMisra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud took note of senior advocate P S Patwalia’s allegations about no contest in 34% of panchayat seats and asked the EC to provide authentic statistics about uncontested seats in zillapanchayat, panchayatsamiti and gram panchayatseats within 24 hours and posted the matter for hearing on Wednesday.

The bench said: “It is shocking that 16,860 gram panchayat seats went uncontested. This means Chapter IX of the Constitution (which created grassroots level democracy) is not working. Look at the alleged statistics on no-contest seats in Birbhum, Bankura, Murshidabad and PoorvaBardhaman districts. We cannot remain oblivious to the ground reality. In Birbhum, all zillapanchayat seats went uncontested. We can understand a small percentage... But it is puzzling when such a large number of seats witness no contest. The EC is the guardian under law to conduct free and fair elections. The ground situation is vivid when so many seats go uncontested.”

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