New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Tripura government to ensure that no political party, including Trinamool Congress, in the fray for local body polls is prevented from pursuing its electoral rights in accordance with law and from campaigning in a peaceful and orderly manner.

The apex court also directed the state government to make appropriate arrangements for ensuring law and order for unimpeded right of political participation in the municipal elections.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath issued notice to the State government on the plea of Trinamool Congress (TMC) party and its Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev seeking security for its workers and representatives alleging wide-scale violence on the party workers during the upcoming local body polls.

Since the election process has commenced, it is the bounden obligation of the respondents (Tripura government) to ensure that no political party which is in the fray is prevented from pursuing its electoral rights in accordance with law and from campaigning in a peaceful and orderly manner, the bench said.

Necessary arrangements shall be put into place and appropriate action taken by the Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs of the Government of Tripura as well as by the Director General of Police, together with the law enforcement machinery of the State to enforce and comply with this order, it said.

The bench further stated, “We, accordingly, direct the respondents, by way of an ad-interim order, to duly consider the grievance which has been placed before the Court in these proceedings, which has been briefly adverted to in the earlier part of this order so that appropriate arrangements are made to ensure the maintenance of law and order in a manner that would further the unimpeded right of political participation in the course of the ensuing municipal elections.”

It said that as regards the plea for individual security, the Superintendents of Police concerned who are impleaded as parties in the plea shall take a decision having regard to the threat perception with reference to each case and area and take necessary action for the maintenance and provision of security, as required.

An affidavit shall be filed by the first respondent (Tripura government) explaining the steps being taken in pursuance of the present order and even otherwise to ensure that the process of election during the ensuing municipal elections in Tripura remains free and fair, the bench said.

It also asked the Director General of Police and the Home Secretary of the State to file a joint report of compliance, on affidavit, in pursuance of the directions of the court.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on November 25.

The TMC and Dev have sought directions to the State government and police officials to ensure the maintenance of security and safety in the areas where the elections are scheduled to be held in November 2021.

The plea has also sought direction for providing security to the members of TMC for the constitution of a neutral and fair SIT to probe into the incidents of violence meted with its workers.

The local body election process commenced on October 22 after the notification and polling will take place on November 25. Polling for a municipal corporation, thirteen Municipal Councils and six Nagar Panchayats in the State will be held on November 25.

The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) and Dev have tabulated in the synopsis of their plea several incidents of violence which have taken place since August 2, aimed at their representatives and its workers in the course of the election campaign.

The top court noted the petition adverts to an incident of violence which took place on October 22, 2021, when a team of AITC leaders and workers under the second petitioner were in the midst of a Public Contact Programme and an FIR has been registered at Amtali Police Station for various offences…but it has been stated that no arrest has been made in connection with either that case or the earlier criminal cases which were registered .

The plea stated that as a consequence though the election process has commenced, the TMC representatives have been prevented from free recourse to electoral campaigning as a result of actual and threatened violence.

The top court also noted a communication of the Superintendent of Police, West Tripura District, dated September 18, 2021, declining permission to the first petitioner to hold a meeting cum-procession at Agartala city on the apprehension that the supporters of opposing political parties may try to commit mischief , resulting in a similar riotous situation which was witnessed earlier on the day.

Also read: Tripura: Dengue cases jump to 255 in 2021

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