The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Home Secretary of the Tripura Government, the State Election Commission, and the Director-General of Police to ensure that every polling booth is manned by a sufficient number of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel in light of allegations of violence during the polling day for local body elections in Tripura. The court directed Tripura's Director General of Police and Home Secretary to examine the situation and call the MHA if additional Central forces are needed.
The verdict came after the TMC filed a contempt petition, stating that its cadre was being targeted across the state and fake charges were being brought against them in the run-up to the polls, despite the court's previous orders. Voting will take place on November 25 and the results will be announced on November 28 in Tripura's ongoing municipal election.
The court stated that postponing elections is the last resort and that it is their considerate opinion that, in the absence of postponing elections, the petitioners' concerns can be addressed by issuing directions to Tripura to ensure that the remaining phases of municipal elections are held in a safe and secure manner and that law-and-order reports that have been brought to the attention of enforcement agencies are dealt with in accordance with applicable laws. The court also observed that postponing of elections is an extreme thing to do in a democracy and that the court was averse to it. It was said that such a postponement would set a wrong precedent.
The bench stated in its order that it is the responsibility of the DGP, IGP, and Home Secretary to allay any concerns about the law enforcement machinery's fairness in assisting the electoral process. To alleviate the complaint that candidates and supporters of the All-India Trinamool Congress (AITC) are unfairly targeted by competing political groupings, law enforcement officials must carry out their duties in an even-handed way. The court also ordered the Tripura DGP and IG to meet with the State Election Commissioner to examine the availability of central paramilitary troops in sufficient numbers to conduct the elections in a peaceful manner. The court directed the state to give tabular data on complaints made, procedures taken, and whether or not an FIR had been filed, based on Trinamool's claim that the police were not filing FIRs against people attacking its cadre.
After hearing from the counsel for the Trinamool Congress that all polling stations lacked CCTV cameras, the Court ordered that print and electronic media have unrestricted access to report on the election.
Advocates for the TMC said that there had been widespread acts of violence and that a TMC candidate had been prevented from casting a vote. The counsel representing Tripura, on the other hand, disputed the charges, claiming that all precautions are being done to ensure peaceful elections. The State Government filed a report with the Court indicating that the MHA received a request for an additional CAPF battalion after the DGP, Home Secretary, and State Election Commission assessed the security situation.
The state also claimed that, in addition to the 78 sections mentioned in the previous court order, 15 more sections have been deployed, and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has deployed two companies of the border security force in response to the DGP and Home Secretary of the state of Tripura's requisition. In addition, 458 members of the Tripura State Rifles have been assigned to law enforcement tasks. The Court issued the ad-interim orders without addressing the charges' merits.
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