The Calcutta High Court on Thursday stayed all panchayat election processes in West Bengal, including withdrawal and scrutiny of nominations, until April 16, ANI reported. The bench also asked the state election commission to file a status report in the case.

The BJP and some other Opposition candidates have accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of stopping them from filing nominations. After the BJP filed a plea in the Supreme Court asking it to extend the last date for nominations, the bench asked the party to approach the Calcutta High Court instead.

Elections to the three-tier local body structure – zilla parishads, panchayat samitis, and gram panchayats – are scheduled for May 1, 3 and 5. The results will be declared on May 8.

The BJP had moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday against the West Bengal State Election Commission’s decision to revoke its order extending the deadline to file nominations for panchayat elections by a day. The order extending the deadline to April 10 was issued Monday after violence broke out during the filing of nominations.

Opposition parties welcome Calcutta High Court order

Opposition parties in West Bengal welcomed the high court’s order deferring the election process, PTI reported. BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said the ruling was a blow to the ruling Trinamool Congress. “This high court ruling is a triumph of democracy over dictatorship,” he told reporters.

Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy called the verdict a “victory for the masses”.

Congress leader Abdul Mannan, who is the leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, welcomed the judgement and demanded the resignations of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and State Election Commissioner AK Singh.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty claimed “democratic rights were being throttled” in West Bengal under Trinamool Congress rule. The CPI(M)-led Left Front has called a six-hour strike on Friday to protest against the pre-poll violence in the state.