Agartala: While refusing the plea of Trinamool Congress to postpone the civic polls in Tripura, the Supreme Court directed the state government to ensure the security of all the candidates, voters and the leaders of the parties contesting elections to be held on November 25.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna directed DGP and IGP (Law & Order) of Tripura shall hold a joint meeting with the State election commission by tomorrow forenoon to assess the availability of paramilitary forces for ensuring peaceful conduct of the entire election process across 13 urban local bodies of the state.
After making an assessment of the situation on the ground, the requisition to be submitted to CRPF and any such request shall be duly considered, the court-ordered. The DGP and IGP 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.
The court, however, observed that the campaigning has ended today, voting is on Thursday and counting will be on November 28, at this stage postponing elections is a matter of last and extreme recourse.
“It is our view that short of postponing elections, the apprehension expressed by the TMC can be suitably addressed by issuing directions to the Tripura government to ensure that remaining phases
of the municipal elections take place in a peaceful and orderly manner,” the order mentioned.
The Supreme Court added, “The position as it stands at present is that three battalions of CRPF are deployed in the state for field duty while 17 companies comprising of 78 sections have been drafted for election duty, 12 more sections are to be drafted, which indicates two battalion strength is being deployed for the elections to make the peaceful.”
Justice Chandrachud attributed, “Until campaigning ends today make sure necessary arrangements are in place. Tomorrow, ensure that it’s peaceful and on the polling day the polling takes place in a peaceful manner. We’ll take this statement on record and we’ll pass directions to strengthen our earlier directions. Postponing elections is a very extreme thing in a democracy and sends across the wrong message.”
The Supreme Court ordered the Tripura government to submit a statement of complaints lodged, FIRs registered, action taken and arrests made. The statement should be submitted along with the compliance affidavit before the next hearing scheduled on Thursday.
“While we are not inclined to postpone the elections, we are equally of the view that it’s the duty of the DGP, IGP and Home Secretary to assuage any misgivings about the law enforcement machinery in supporting the electoral process,” the bench observed.
“The law enforcement agencies must discharge their duties in an even-handed and non-partisan manner,” it stated adding when a compliance affidavit is filed, it shall contain a detailed statement of steps taken, security for the contesting candidates and protection for the election process.