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Postponing extreme recourse: SC on TMC plea on Tripura local body polls

 
New Delhi, Nov 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday said postponing an election in a democracy is an extreme recourse, as it may set off a wrong trend and declined to entertain a plea by All India Trinamool Congress to postpone municipal elections in Tripura, in the backdrop of allegations of deteriorating law and order situation. However, the top court directed the IG and DGP of Tripura to take steps to ensure municipal elections, slated on November 25, are conducted in a peaceful manner.

A bench comprising justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Vikram Nath said: "Postponing an election is a matter of last resort or extreme recourse... instead of postponing an election, we direct the Tripura government to ensure remaining phases take place in a peaceful manner". The top court directed the IG and DGP (law and order, Tripura) to hold a joint meeting with the state election commissioner by Wednesday morning to assess if sufficient strength of paramilitary forces is available to conduct a peaceful election. The Tripura government submitted a document on security arrangements for conducting municipal polls.

Senior advocates Jaideep Gupta and Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for the petitioners, vehemently argued for postponing the municipal election emphasizing it is not a perfect situation to hold polls and added that no action has been taken against the BJP miscreants. They emphasized that security has to be bumped up, an additional week should be provided for campaigning and then the election should take place. The bench said: "cannot postpone elections in a democracy, it will set off a wrong trend."

The bench directed the IG, DGP and the home secretary to assuage any misgiving in connection with the fairness of the polls.

Earlier, in the day the Supreme Court sought a detailed security arrangement plan from Tripura government to ensure free and fair municipal elections slated on November 25 and also for the declaration of results.

The top court was hearing a contempt plea by All India 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.

Justice Chandrachud asked senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the Tripura government, to bring on record the detailed security arrangement, which will be in place to ensure free and fair local body elections, and also the declaration of results. Justice Chandrachud asked Jethmalani to come back with instructions, from DGP and home secretary.

--IANS
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