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SC refuses to postpone Tripura local body polls, asks state govt to ensure free, fair election

ANI | Updated: Nov 23, 2021 21:22 IST

New Delhi [India], November 23 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined the plea of All India Trinamool Congress to postpone the Tripura local body elections scheduled on November 25 and directed the police to increase the security arrangements for conducting free and fair polls and the declaration of results.
A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Vikram Nath observed that "postponing elections is an extreme thing to order in a democracy and we are averse to it". It added that if we do it then it will set a "wrong precedent".
The apex court directed the Director-General of Police (DGP) and Inspector General (Law and Order Tripura) to hold a joint meeting with the State Election Commission by Wednesday morning for assessing the availability of sufficient strength of paramilitary forces drawn from CRPF for ensuring the peaceful conduct of elections.
If further directed that after making an assessment of the situation on ground, if required, a requisition shall be submitted to the CRPF or the MHA for additional force and said that such request shall be duly considered in the interest of peace, security and orderly conduct of the election.
The Bench was hearing a contempt petition filed by All India Trinamool Congress and its Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev alleging non-compliance with the apex court order by Tripura authorities passed on November 11 to ensure free and safe atmosphere for political campaigning for the local body elections scheduled on November 25.
The Tripura Police shall take all steps to ensure that the election process is conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner without any disruption, particularly on the date of polling, leading up to the counting on November 28, the Bench said.
The Bench has now posted the matter for November 25 to ascertain compliance of court's order.
Senior advocates Jaideep Gupta and Gopal Sankaranayanan appearing for the TMC urged the top court to postpone the elections, which the Bench has declined.
The TMC has filed the contempt plea saying that the law and order situation in Tripura is "worsening" by the day ahead of the election.

During the hearing, the Bench asked the Tripura government about the steps taken to ensure fair and free municipal elections and the steps it is going to take.
The Bench also asked senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the Tripura government, to take detailed instructions from the DGP and the Home Secretary on what specific arrangements are made for today's campaigning, the polling day and for safety right upto the declaration of result.
Jethmalani has submitted detailed information on the security arrangements for conducting municipal polls.
On November 11, the apex court had asked Tripura authorities to "ensure free and fair elections", peaceful campaigning and passed the interim order on a plea AITC seeking directions to Tripura government to provide security to its party members, especially during the campaign for the upcoming municipal elections.
The apex court in its order had said that since the election process has commenced, it is the bounden obligation of the respondents Tripura government authorities "to ensure that no political party which is in the fray is prevented from pursuing its electoral rights in accordance with law and from campaigning in a peaceful and orderly manner."
It had added that necessary arrangements shall be put into place and appropriate action taken by the Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs of the government of Tripura as well as by the Director-General of Police, together with the law enforcement machinery of the State to enforce and comply with this order.
The top court in its order had noted that elections are to take place to a Municipal Corporation, 13 Municipal Councils and six Nagar Panchayats in the State of Tripura on November 25, 2021. The election process commenced on October 22, 2021.
AITC in its plea had sought direction for constituting a neutral and fair SIT, headed by a retired judge so that free and fair investigation could be carried out in relation to alleged acts of vandalism and hooliganism targeted against TMC members.
The plea of AITC had cited various instances of violence starting from August where their members were attacked. (ANI)