Tripura High Court rejects anticipatory bail to cyber fraud accused using DGP Tripura's logo
Tripura High Court

Agartala: The High Court of Tripura on Tuesday recommended the State Election Commission (SEC) to complete the entire poll process of village committees (VC) under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), preferably within the first week of November.

The TTAADC comprises of 587 village committees.

The High Court division bench comprising Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice SG Chattopadhyay disposed of the public interest litigation that challenged the unprecedented delay by the SEC in conducting the village committee polls and also advised the commission to make the announcement of the polls at the earliest. 

“There is no doubt that the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District (Establishment of Village Committee) Act, 1994 under Section 20 has assigned important duties and functions to the Village Committees. Therefore, there is force in the submissions of learned counsel of the petitioners that such functions cannot be entrusted to an administrator for an indefinite period of time.  In such a situation, the SEC, as an independent body, will have to weigh the competing demands and expedite the entire process to hold the Village Committee elections without further delay in order to maintain the democratic norms. Though we are not proposing any rigid timelines for this purpose, keeping in view SEC’s affidavits and the materials placed before us, we would expect SEC and state machinery to notify the date of election at the earliest and complete the entire process of Village Committee elections including the declaration of results preferably within the first week of November 2022,” the concluding part of the court’s observation reads.

It is may be mentioned that the five-year term of the village committees expired on March 7, 2021. To ensure that the elected bodies function smoothly, caretaker administrators were appointed henceforth.

Subsequently, the public interest litigation (PIL) was filed seeking early elections to the village committees.

The State Election Commission, through its series of affidavits, has informed the court that the commission failed to conduct the elections in time due to a host of reasons.

Advocate General SS Dey, appearing for the state election commission, informed the court that a set of issues are responsible for the delay in conducting the village committee polls.

According to the court order copy, the State Election Commission informed the court that the preparation for fresh electoral rolls for the VC elections is time-consuming as it has to be differentiated from the normal electoral rolls, and around 21,703 displaced Brus, who are now settled in Tripura, have also been included in the electoral list.

The SEC stated that without the fresh electoral roll, around one lakh voters would have been deprived of their voting rights. Similarly, the spread of Covid-19 also came as a delaying factor, it stated.

However, the SEC in its submission clearly mentioned that it needs a minimum time of 137 days to complete the whole poll process and as per preparations it had been doing, the tentative date of polls could be fixed at November 28, 2022, while the date of notification has been slated to October 26, 2022.

The State Election Commission also made it clear before the court that holding the elections before Durga Puja festival will be impossible given the festive season.

The petitioners, however, contended that no institutions in a democratic system should be run by appointed administrators for indefinite terms, spokesman of TIPRA, the ruling party of TTAADC, and advocate Anthony Debbarma said.

After hearing both sides, the court has advised the State Election Commission to complete the process as soon as possible by refraining from passing any rigid directives.     

Also Read | Tripura Deputy CM urges Bangladesh to invest in state 

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