SC: Won’t defer Tripura civic polls, state govt must ensure fair process | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Observing that postponing elections should be a matter of “last and even extreme recourse”, the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to defer municipal polls in Tripura and directed the state administration to discharge its duties in a “non-partisan manner” to obviate the grievance of the Trinamool Congress that the party is being targeted by political rivals.
The court passed a slew of directions to ensure free and fair elections and said, “The DGP and home secretary of the state shall observe these directions scrupulously so as to obviate the need for the court to adopt coercive steps in the event that a breach of its directions comes to light.”
The municipal polls are on November 25 and the results will be declared three days later. The campaign, which came to an end on Tuesday, was marred by political violence, blamed by TMC and BJP on each other. The court passed the order on a contempt petition filed by TMC against the state government and police for not implementing the SC’s November 11 order to protect its functionaries who were being targeted by BJP workers.
While we are not inclined to accede to the prayer for postponing the elections for the reasons indicated earlier, we are equally of the view that it is the duty of the DGP, the IGP (law and order) and the home secretary of the state to assuage any misgivings about the fairness of the law enforcement machinery in supporting the electoral process. The law enforcement agencies must discharge their duties in an even-handed and non-partisan manner to obviate the grievance which has been urged before this court that candidates and supporters of the AITC are being unfairly targeted by contesting political groups,” the bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Vikram Nath said.
Senior advocates Jaideep Gupta and Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Trinamool, told the bench that its functionaries were being attacked and not allowed to campaign. They submitted that Tripura has become a “terror state”.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the state, refuted the allegation and said the ministers from West Bengal were making inflammatory speeches to incite violence.
The court, after hearing both sides, directed the state DGP and IGP (law and order) to hold a joint meeting with the state election commission by Wednesday morning for assessing the requirement of a sufficient strength of paramilitary forces drawn from the CRPF for ensuring peaceful conduct of elections. The court said they “shall take all steps to ensure that the election process is conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner”.
“Since a serious grievance has been expressed on behalf of the petitioners that despite the lodging of FIRs, no action has been taken by the law-enforcing agencies, the respondents shall submit before this court a statement of (a) the complaints which have been lodged; (b) the FIRs which have been registered; (c) action taken against those who have resorted to violence; and (d) arrests that have been made,” the bench said.

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