Updated: November 12, 2021 7:14:33 am
The Supreme Court Thursday asked the Tripura government to ensure that no political party in the fray for the coming local body elections “is prevented from pursuing its electoral rights in accordance with law, and from campaigning in a peaceful and orderly manner”.
The court also directed the BJP-led government to file an affidavit explaining the steps being taken in light of its order and “even otherwise to ensure that the process of election… remains free and fair” and “to further the unimpeded right of political participation”.
A Bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath issued the notice to the Tripura government on the plea of Trinamool Congress and its Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev, seeking security for its workers and representatives, alleging wide-scale violence since August 2 against TMC representatives and members, in the course of the campaign for elections to the Agartala Municipal Corporation, 13 Municipal Councils and six Nagar Panchayats, scheduled on November 25.
A total of 785 candidates are scheduled to contest for 222 seats in 13 urban bodies in the November 22 polls. While elections were announced for 334 seats in 20 civic bodies, the ruling BJP earlier won 112 seats and seven urban bodies uncontested.
CPM state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury had held a press conference to say its candidates had been unable to file nominations in the seven civic bodies due to violence by the BJP. “Our party workers were attacked and our candidates in five municipal councils and two nagar panchayats could not submit their nominations,” Chaudhury said.
The BJP has said it could not be blamed for the Opposition “not being able to put up candidates”. “The CPM has lost acceptance. We never wanted to win without contest,” the party said.
The seven urban bodies won by the BJP uncontested include municipal councils of Bishalgarh, Udaipur, Mohanpur, Ranirbazaar, and Santirbazar, and the two Nagar panchayats of Kamalpur and Jirania.
The Supreme Court said that the TMC’s petition refers to an incident of October 22, saying that while an FIR was registered, “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 top court also took note of a communication of the Superintendent of Police, West Tripura District, dated September 18, “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”.
The TMC told the Supreme Court that the “actual and threatened violence” had prevented its leaders “from free recourse to electoral campaigning”. It said that while it had approached the Tripura High Court, the matter could not be taken up as the court was in the midst of a recess.
On the plea for individual security, the Supreme Court left it to superintendents of police, impleaded as respondents, to “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”.
It also asked the DGP and Home Secretary 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.
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