In response to criticism from the Calcutta High Court regarding the deployment of central forces, the Union Home Ministry has decided to deploy an additional 315 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), State Armed Police Forces (SAPF), and India Reserve (IR) Battalions for the upcoming Panchayat general elections in West Bengal. The court directed the West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) to requisition over 82,000 central forces personnel within 24 hours.
High Court’s Criticism and Requisition of Central Forces
The Calcutta High Court, during a hearing of a contempt petition, reprimanded the state election commissioner and suggested that if he found it difficult to follow orders, he should step down from his position. The court noted that for the July 8 elections, the SEC had only requisitioned 22 companies of central forces, which was significantly less than the 82,000 central forces personnel deployed during the 2013 panchayat polls in the state. The court deemed the number of personnel requested by the SEC as inadequate.
Increase in Deployment and Requisition
Considering the increase in the number of districts in West Bengal from 17 in 2013 to 22 at present, as well as the growth in the electorate over the past 10 years, the High Court directed the SEC to requisition over 82,000 central forces personnel within 24 hours. The court emphasized that if the commissioner found it challenging to comply with the orders, he should consider stepping down, and the Governor may appoint a replacement.
Additional Requisition by the State Election Commission
Following the court’s directive, the State Election Commission sent another requisition seeking 800 more companies of central forces for all districts in West Bengal. In response, the Union Home Ministry decided to deploy an additional 315 companies of CAPFs/SAPs/IR Bns with immediate effect for the Panchayat general elections in the state.
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