The Supreme Court on Thursday orally urged the All-India Trinamool Congress (AITC) to inquire into acts of vandalism and hooliganism and revive its writ petition in the Tripura High Court regarding immediate action on complaints of victims of assault, intimidation and other criminal activities.
The bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath was hearing the AITC plea filed in view of the then-impending municipal elections in Tripura.
Noting that the electoral process in Tripura is now complete and that it has taken care of the urgent situation which had arisen in terms of the poll violence, the bench also considered a contempt plea moved by the AITC for alleged infringement of directions towards safety arrangement etc passed by the bench on the writ petition.
Appearing for the state, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the petitioners had disclosed that they had moved a petition under 226 also before the Tripura High Court. The petitioner said that the petition could not be taken up as the High Court was in the midst of a recess.
In this regard, it is submitted that the petitioner’s petition before the High Court of Tripura was instituted on September 24, making similar and identical players as the present petition. It was first taken up on September 28. On that day, notice was issued by the High Court, made returnable on October 7. Then on the next date of hearing on October 7, it was the advocate for the petitioner who requested the matter to be posted after the vacation and therefore the High Court adjourned the matter.
The fact of the matter is that when there was an adjournment of the matter on October 7, there was no vacation in the High Court and it was working. A similar petition with regard to the poll violence was filed in Calcutta.
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Justice Chandrachud said now election process in Tripura is complete, the results have been declared. The reason why we assumed the seisin of the matter was because of the Court’s concern that the election process must take place peacefully. “We intervened only as the interest of free and fair elections is of such overall importance that we felt that the Supreme Court could not have wasted any time rationally.”
The AITC withdrew the petition before the High Court and cannot have a second bite in the cherry. “But for the rest of the prayers, we will permit them to revive their writ petition,” he said.
Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, for the petitioner, advanced that despite the Court’s best efforts, “Unfortunately, 112 of 384 seats went uncontested.” At this, Justice Chandrachud indicated a 2018 judgment by a bench of the then-CJ Dipak Misra, Justice A. M. Khanwilkar and himself in context of the West Bengal gram panchayat elections. “I am sure you will have read that judgment where an identical allegation was made against your party in the Gram Panchayat elections in West Bengal.
On November 25, the polling day for the Tripura local body elections, the same bench had passed a series of directions to ensure the presence of Central Armed Police Force personnel in each of the 770 polling booths in the state.
On the previous hearing on November 23, the bench had turned down the plea made by AITC to postpone the local body elections.