Mamata vs the courts
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In the past couple of days the Calcutta High Court has made it clear that the West Bengal government has a constitutional obligation to hold the panchayat polls on time. As expected, the division bench of Chief Justice Arun Misra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi finally set July 15 as the deadline for completion of the panchayat poll process, ironing out all differences.
Election to the grassroots bodies in West Bengal, whose terms expire on June 10, was unfortunately held up because of a protracted battle between the state election commission (SEC) and the state government. The judicial intervention came as a welcome relief even as it highlighted the need and urgency to uphold democratic institutions like the panchayati raj system without any delay.
In the state government's bid to dictate terms to the SEC was lost the greater goal of ensuring a political structure and environment that should have brought out the best in democratic traditions.
The verdict joins the long chronicle of judicial setbacks for the Trinamool Congress government. In two years, it has swallowed a fair amount of insults for its rather injudicious and whimsical moves. It began with the new government's Singur land acquisition legislation being struck down as "unconstitutional". The matter has moved to the apex court, leaving Singur farmers in an agonising wait for a permanent settlement.
On Monday, the Calcutta High Court again came down heavily on the state for the failure to have a fair investigation into the custodial death of one Kazi Nasiruddin — ironically, a Trinamool Congress worker, who allegedly fell victim to the party's internecine feuds. The High Court ordered a CBI inquiry. This came soon after reports from a social welfare home in Hooghly district of inmates being tortured to death and their bodies buried, where too the court ordered a CBI inquiry after the CID failed to give a fair investigation.