New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Union government to deploy two additional companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) in Tripura as expeditiously as possible to secure polling booths for the municipal elections to take place without any disruption.
A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and Vikram Nath directed the Director-General of Police (DGP), Home Secretary, and State Election Commission (SEC) to ensure that all polling booths are properly manned by security forces for ensuring free and fair elections, news agency ANI reported.
The directive comes as Tripura is holding civic body polls today.
Besides the directive on security forces, the apex court also stated that in absence of CCTV, print and electronic media should have unhindered access to report the election process. It asked the state poll panel and authorities to ensure compliance with the court’s order.
This direction of the SC Bench came after the counsel appearing for Trinamool Congress said that all polling booths did not have CCTV cameras.
The Bench was hearing a contempt petition filed by All India Trinamool Congress and its Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev that alleges non-compliance of Supreme Court’s November 11 order by Tripura authorities of ensuring a free and safe atmosphere for political campaigning for the local body elections.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), one of the opposition parties in the fray for the Tripura local body elections, approached the Supreme Court alleging an attack on their party workers by the ruling BJP.
During the hearing, the SC bench was informed that there are 770 polling booths in the state.
As reported by ANI, senior advocates Gopal Shankaranarayanan and PV Surendranath, appearing for TMC and CPI(M) respectively, contended that widespread acts of violence are happening today, the day of polling.
There are multiple videos of outsiders barging into polling booths and a TMC candidate was being prevented from casting votes, Shankaranarayanan said.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the Tripura government, denied the allegations and apprised the Bench about all steps being taken to ensure peaceful elections. He informed that a meeting was held and pursuant to that request was made for more companies.
The request was made to the Home Ministry and the Ministry has agreed and two additional companies have already been deployed, Jethmalani told the apex court during the hearing, reported ANI.
SC Denied TMC’s Request To Postpone Tripura Civic Polls
Previously, the Supreme Court had on Tuesday declined the plea of TMC to postpone the Tripura local body elections and directed the police to increase the security arrangements for conducting free and fair polls and the declaration of results.
The apex court had directed that the Tripura police 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, leaving up to the counting on November 28.
The SC Bench had observed that “postponing elections is an extreme thing to order in a democracy and we are averse to it”, as quoted by ANI.
It had stressed that doing so will set a “wrong precedent”.
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 by TMC seeking directions to the State of Tripura to provide security to its party members, especially during the campaign for the upcoming municipal elections.
In its plea, TMC 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 the party’s members. The plea had cited various instances of violence starting from August where their members were attacked.
(With Agency Inputs)