The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, 23 November, said that it would not cancel the the upcoming civic polls, scheduled for 25 November, in the wake of several incidents of violence that had taken place in Tripura.
The bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud observed:
"Postponing elections is a matter of last and extreme recourse. We consider that instead of postponing elections, the apprehensions can be redressed by issuing pre-emptory directions to Tripura to ensure that remaining phases of municipal elections take place in fair manner."Supreme Court bench, as per Bar and Bench
The state of Tripura, in the course of the hearing, apprised the court of the number of troops deployed for the polling process. The court responded, "...a requisition shall be submitted to CRPF or the Home Ministry. Any such request will be duly considered having regard to situation to maintain peace in conducting free and fair polls in Tripura."
What Steps Are You Taking To Ensure Free & Fair Elections: SC
Earlier during the day, the top court had asked the Biplab Kumar Deb-led Tripura government to make a detailed statement on the steps being taken by the state to ensure safety during the upcoming polls.
The Court asked the counsel representing the Tripura government to present the same at 12:45 pm on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court was hearing the contempt plea of Trinamool Congress (TMC), claiming that the law and order situation in Tripura was "worsening" by the day ahead of civil body elections.
"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 bench added.
At the beginning of the hearing, the TMC counsel mentioned several incidents of violence that had taken place in the state. Presenting screenshots of the same, he said the police only stood at the spot and did nothing while the violence was taking place.
The bench then asked the Tripura government's counsel advocate Mahesh Jethmalani what measures were being taken to ensure free and fair elections in the state.
"When is the counting, and what steps are you taking to ensure that nothing happens between today and the counting day?" the SC Bench questioned.
(With inputs from Bar and Bench and The Indian Express.)