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Deploy additional forces in Tripura for free, fair municipal polls: SC to Centre

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New Delhi, Nov 25, 2021- The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre to deploy two additional companies of central paramilitary forces in Tripura as expeditiously as possible for municipal elections being held in the day

It emphasised that it should be ensured that every polling booth is manned by paramilitary forces to ensure free and fair elections.

A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and Vikram Nath said: “We direct that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to provide additional two companies of any CAPF as expeditiously as possible having due regard to the fact that polling has already commenced and in order to secure the polling booths so that polling can take place without any disturbance or dislocation.”

The bench added that the Tripura DGP and Secretary in the Department of Home Affairs, should immediately review if there is any additional requirement of further deployment, over and above the above direction and if so, communicate it to the Department of Home Affairs for necessary action.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured the court that should a requisition be made for additional paramilitary forces, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs would respond immediately in a favourable manner.

The bench was informed that as a result of the redeployment of two companies of the BSF last night, 128 personnel of the BSF are also stationed in addition to the force which is made available.

“We direct the State Election Commission, the Director General of Police and the Secretary, Home Affairs of the State of Tripura to ensure that every polling booth is manned by a sufficient strength of CAPF personnel, bearing in mind the sensitivity of the polling station and the need for a requisite number of personnel to guard the polling booths to ensure free and fair elections. The polling officer at each polling booth shall take the help of CAPF personnel, in the event that any exigency arisesa, said the bench, in its order.

The top court was informed that there are 770 polling booths where the polling is taking place. The bench further added that in the absence of the installation of CCTV cameras, both the electronic and the print media should have unhindered access for full reporting and coverage of the election process.

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani and Shuvodeep Roy, appearing on behalf of Tripura government, stated that in addition to the deployment of 78 sections which was noted in the previous court order, 15 additional sections have been deployed and, pursuant to a requisition made by the state DGP and the Home Secretary, two companies of the Border Security Force (BSF) have been deployed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Trinamool Congress, mentioned that as the polling is in progress, several incidents of violence have been recorded and sought hearing post lunch to show the court those videos.

The bench sought a report of compliance from the DGP and the Home Secretary jointly and listed the matter for further hearing on December 2.

The top court was hearing a contempt plea by the Trinamool Congress and others claiming that the law and order situation is worsening in the state, as the date for local body elections draws closer and the government authorities have not followed the top court’s direction on security arrangements.  (Agency)

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