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Supreme Court agrees to hear Trinamool Congress contempt plea over municipal elections in Tripura

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The Supreme Court has agreed to hear tomorrow a contempt plea moved by the All India Trinamool Congress seeking protection for its party workers from false cases and violence ahead of municipal elections in Tripura due on November 25 in view of worsening law and order every day. &

A bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice A.S. Bopanna upon urgent mentioning agreed to hear and list the matter on November 23, 2021. 

The Top Court had on November 11 directed Tripura for making appropriate arrangements 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 had further directed to ensure that the process of election during the ensuing municipal elections in Tripura remains “free and fair”.

The plea was filed by All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) in the backdrop to the elections which are to take place to a Municipal Corporation, thirteen Municipal Councils and six Nagar Panchayats in the State of Tripura on November 25. The election process began on October 22.

“The first petitioner is the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), while the second petitioner is a Member of the Rajya Sabha. The petitioners have tabulated in the Synopsis several incidents of violence which have taken place since 2 August 2021, aimed at the representatives of the first petitioner and members owing allegiance to the political party in the course of the election campaign. The petition adverts to an incident of violence which took place on 22 October 2021, when a team of AITC leaders and workers under the second petitioner were in the midst of a “Public Contact Program”. An FIR has been registered at Amtali Police Station for offences punishable under Sections 323, 427, 345 and 379 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, 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. As a consequence, it has been submitted, that though the election process has commenced, the representatives of the first petitioner have been prevented from free recourse to electoral campaigning as a result of actual and threatened violence. Annexure P-6 to the petition is a communication of the Superintendent of Police, West Tripura District, dated 18 September 2021, declining permission to the first petitioner to hold a meeting- cum-procession at Agartala city on the apprehension that supporters of opposing political parties may “try to commit mischief”, resulting in a similar riotous situation which was witnessed earlier on the day,” the Court had noted in its order dated November 11. 

The Supreme Court had issued notice and observed that since the election process has commenced, it is the bounden obligation of the respondents 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. 

“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 had directed. 

The Apex Court had further directed the respondents, to make appropriate arrangements 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.”

“As regards the plea for individual security, the concerned Superintendents of Police who are impleaded as respondents 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,” said the Court. 

It directed, “An affidavit shall be filed by the first respondent 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 Director General of Police and the Home Secretary shall file a joint report of compliance, on affidavit, in pursuance of the above directions.”

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