SC directs that media be given unhindered access to cover Tripura local body elections

  • Thyagarajan Narendran
  • 12:14 PM, 25 Nov 2021

A Supreme Court bench of Justices Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath today directed the State Election Commission to ensure that all media personnel are given unhindered access to cover the local body elections in Tripura.

The said directions were passed in the light of All India Trinamool Congress submitting to the Court that there were not enough CCTVs.

When the hearing of the petition commenced, Sr. Adv. Gopal Shakarnarayan, submitted that there have been instances of violence in the polling and that the security provided by the State is not adequate.

The court on perusing the compliance report filed by the State noticed that the Director General of Police (DGP) and Home Secretary have already requisitioned for additional companies of paramilitary personnel from the Home Ministry.

Sr. Adv. Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the state of Tripura, informed the Court that the 2 additional companies as requisitioned have already been deployed and that a fax containing the Home Ministry’s approval is already with the Court.

He further informed the Court that the polling has been peaceful contrary to what All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) has claimed.

Shankarnarayan objecting to this submitted that they were ready to show videos of the violence to the Court and that one of their candidates has not been able to go to the polling booth.

The Court at this point informed the parties that it will issue directions to deploy 2 additional companies and further direct the DGP and the Home Secretary to re-assess the situation.

Jethmalani contended that the petitioners are making allegations across the bar and that they have not raised any such issues with the State Election Commission, he further informed the Court that these are all individual instances.

The counsel for Tripura informed the Court that pursuant to the Court’s order 15 additional sections have been deployed by the State.

On hearing the submissions, while noting that 2 companies of Border Security Force (BSF) have been deployed and that there are 770 polling booths where the election is underway at the moment, the Court said that enquiring into the merits of the allegation would cause further delay hence they will pass ad-interim directions.

Noting thus, it directed the Home Ministry to provide 2 additional companies of paramilitary force, of its own discretion, at the earliest possible time in order to secure the polling booth.

It also directed the DGP and the Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs to assess the situation and requisition the MHA for further deployment and directed the State Election Commission, DGP and Secretary of Home Affairs to ensure that every polling booth is manned by sufficient CAPF personnel.

Necessary arrangements have also been directed to be made to re-deploy additional CAPF and facilitate unhindered counting of votes.

It has been said by Court that in the absence of CCTV in the polling booths media should have unhindered access to cover the elections.

On the last date of hearing, AITC had filed a contempt petition against Tripura on the grounds that the ad-interim orders of November 11 are not being implemented.

They also sought for the postponement of the local body elections on grounds of violence. The Supreme Court, however, refused to entertain their plea seeking postponement of elections. The CPI(M) has filed an application for intervention in the matter.

The matter will come up for further consideration next week.

Cause title: All India Trinamool Congress Vs State of Tripura