What are you doing to ensure free & fair elections, Supreme Court asks Tripura govt

Hearing a contempt plea by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) that claimed that the law-and-order situation in Tripura is “worsening” by the day ahead of civic body elections in the state, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Biplab Deb government to make a detailed statement on steps being taken to ensure security during the polls.

“We realise that you’re isolating in your home. What we’ll do is we’ll give you an hour and a half. Take detailed instructions from the police and home secretary on exactly what arrangements are being made for today and tomorrow at the polling booths and safety measures for polling day right up till the declaration of results,” the Supreme Court said, according to Bar and Bench.

“Take these detailed instructions and come back at 12:45 pm. We want you to make a statement on what steps you are taking for today, the pre poll process, the polling process up to the declaration of results,” the judge added.

The TMC’s counsel, at the beginning of the hearing, spoke about several incidents of violence that have taken place in Tripura. “In the screenshots, you can see that while violence is taking place, the police is standing and doing nothing,” TMC’s counsel said.

Responding to such allegations, the court asked Tripura government’s counsel advocate Mahesh Jethmalani: “We want to know what you’re doing to ensure free and fair elections. When is the counting and what steps are you taking to ensure that nothing happens between today and the counting day?”

The case was being heard by a Bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud.

On November 11, the top court, hearing a plea by the TMC, had asked the Tripura government to ensure that no political party “is prevented from pursuing its electoral rights in accordance with law and from campaigning in a peaceful and orderly manner”. The court had also directed the state government to file an affidavit explaining the steps being taken in light of its order and “to ensure that the process of election… remains free and fair”.

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