Calcutta High Court
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Kolkata: With the State Election Commission insisting that it is satisfied with the security arrangements planned by the state government, Calcutta High Court has cleared the 14 May Panchayat polls in Bengal.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya and justice Arijit Banerjee passed the ruling today in connection with separate petitions filed by the opposition parties, who challenged SEC’s decision to hold the election on a single day instead of over three days, as was originally announced.

The bench has not specifically said that the vote shall be held on 14 May. It has said that it is up to the SEC to pick a date whenever the poll panel thinks a free and fair election is possible.

Since the SEC had notified 14 May as the voting date and, told the HC today that it is satisfied with the security arrangements being put in place by the state government, the voting will now be held on that day itself. The counting of votes will be on 17 May from 8 am.

The HC has, however, said that the state government will have to pay monetary compensation for any damages to property and loss of life during the voting process. The compensation shall have to be realised from the salary of those state government officials who have furnished security-related reports to the HC.

The Chief Justice-led bench has gone to the extent of saying in its order that if the salary of the officials proves insufficient, their properties shall be confiscated and liquidated to pay the compensation.