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Kolkata: Calcutta High Court has ordered a stay on the Panchayat poll process in Bengal till 16 April over alleged Trinamool-perpetrated violence in the nomination phase and irregularities on the part of the State Election Commission (SEC).

Justice Subrata Talukdar of the High Court ordered the stay this afternoon in response to a petition filed by the Left Front.

The judge rejected a petition by the BJP on the same issue for suppressing the fact that the party had moved another petition on this in the Supreme Court. The saffron party has been asked to pay a fine of Rs 5-lakh within one week for this.

During the hearing today on the Left Front’s petition, justice Talukdar asked the poll panel’s counsel why did it cancel a previous order of 9 April wherein the deadline for nomination filing was extended by a day? What steps the poll panel took in relation to the HC directive of 10 April for providing some remedy to those who failed to file nominations due to alleged violence by Trinamool?

The judge also asked as to how many people approached the poll panel for filing nominations after the original deadline of 9 April and how many complaints did the poll panel received from 9 to 10 April.

The SEC counsel responded by saying that the answers to the queries were not readily available. Following this, justice Talukdar stayed the Panchayat poll process till the next hearing on 16 April.

Until then, the withdrawal of nomination papers and all other poll-related works will remain suspended. Going by the original schedule, 16 April was the last day for withdrawal of nomination.

Sources said that Trinamool is likely to move a division bench of the HC challenging the order.

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