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Tripura polls: Supreme Court directs police to enhance security, refuses Trinamool Congress plea to postpone municipal elections

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Tripura Police to enhance security arrangements for the smooth conduct of municipal polls on November 25 and the declaration of results while declining the Trinamool Congress plea to postpone the elections over alleged acts of violence and intimidation against TMC workers.

The bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Vikram Nath noted that putting of elections can only be seen as last and extreme recourse. The bench instead noted that short of postponing elections, the Trianmool Congress apprehensions can be redressed by the issuing of directions to the Tripura government to ensure the remaining phases of municipal elections take place in a safe and secure manner. Reports of law and order violations which have been drawn to the attention of enforcement agencies are dealt with in accordance with law, it said.

Justice Chandrachud asked Tripura counsel Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani about the security arrangements in the state with the last phase of elections two days away. Jethmalani replied the Tripura DGP will be overall in-charge.

Justice Chandrachud then asked if any central para-military force was deployed in the state to take care of security. The judge also referred to the allegations by the Trinamool Congress that a rival politician was exhorting his followers to attack them.

Jethmalani was asked to get detailed instructions from the State Government and the DGP regarding the security arrangements and the need to deploy central forces in disturbed areas by the bench.

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Trinamool Congress counsel Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta submitted that even after the directions of the Supreme Court, the security situation in Tripura has only worsened, and the attacks against the party workers were going on relentlessly.

“One TMC member Shohini Ghosh was attacked during campaign and despite being a victim, a criminal case was registered against her,” Gupta added.

He submitted visuals of the alleged acts of violence and said, “Political workers are being driven out. Kindly consider how much effect will it have on voters. Will the voters come out? We are asking for committee of observers.”

Gupta claimed that elections cannot be held in a peaceful manner given the security situation and therefore the Supreme Court should consider postponing them.

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Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, also appearing for the petitioners, submitted,

“There are instances of elections being postponed due to law and order problems. He added that due to the violence, TMC members have not been able to campaign, and another party had to withdraw from the contest due to fear of violence. In such a circumstances, it is meaningless to allow polling on November 25.”

Jethmalani submitted that the petitioners moved the Supreme Court when their petition was still pending in the Tripura High Court.

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