Kolkata, Apr 6 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court today directed the police to make adequate security arrangements to ensure that candidates can freely file nominations for the coming panchayat elections in West Bengal.

Hearing a writ petition by state Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury, a division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice J Bhattacharya ordered the superintendent of police (SP) of every district to ensure proper security arrangements for filing of nomination papers.

The court also directed the State Election Commission, which is conducting the panchayat polls, to file an affidavit by April 16 on the steps taken for conducting peaceful election.

Chowdhury, who pleaded before the court personally owing to an ongoing ceasework by lawyers, submitted that central paramilitary forces should be deployed to ensure that people can vote without any fear during the elections to be held in three phases in the first week of May.

He claimed that supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress were indulging in violence to scare away opposition candidates from filing nominations, the process of which is on at present.

State Election Commission secretary Nilanjan Shandilya submitted before the bench that steps have been taken as and when it received any complaint from any party or candidate.

Shandilya informed the court that both ruling and opposition candidates have been filing nominations and claimed that the number of opposition candidates together were higher than that of ruling party nominees so far.

The bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Bhattacharya and Justice Arijit Banerjee, directed the State Election Commission to file an affidavit by April 16, enumerating steps it has taken to ensure proper arrangements for conducting the election process peacefully and freely.

The bench directed petitioner Chowdhury, who is also a Congress MP in the Lok Sabha, to file an affidavit in reply within April 19 and fixed the date for next hearing on the petition on April 20.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.