New Delhi, November 25: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre to deploy two additional companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) in Tripura as expeditiously as possible to secure the polling booth sos that municipal elections can 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 to ensure free and fair elections.
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The apex court also directed that in absence of CCTV, print and electronic media should have unhindered access to report the election process and asked state poll panel and authorities to ensure compliance with the court's order. This direction of Bench came after the counsel appearing for Trinamool Congress said that all polling booths did not have CCTV cameras.
Tripura is holding civic body polls today.
The Bench was hearing a contempt petition filed by All India Trinamool Congress and its Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev's contempt plea alleging non-compliance of the apex court order by Tripura authorities passed on November 11 to ensure a free and safe atmosphere for political campaigning for the local body elections scheduled on November 25.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) one of the opposition parties in the fray for the Tripura municipal elections has approached the top court alleging an attack on their party workers by the ruling BJP.
During the hearing, the apex court was informed that there are 770 polling booths in the State.
Senior advocates Gopal Shankaranarayanan and PV Surendranath, appearing for TMC andCPI(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 candidate of TMC was being prevented from casting votes, Shankaranarayanan added.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the Tripura, denied the allegations and apprised the Bench of all steps are taken by the government to ensure peaceful elections.
He added that a meeting was held and pursuant to that request was made for more companies. The request was made to Home Ministry and Ministry has agreed and two additional companies have already been deployed, Jethmalani told the apex court during the hearing.
On Tuesday, the top court had 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.
It had directed that 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, leaving up to the counting on November 28.
The Bench had observed that "postponing elections is an extreme thing to order in a democracy and we are averse to it". It had added that if we do it then it 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 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 TMC members.
The plea had cited various instances of violence starting from August where their members were attacked.
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