Send 2 extra firms of CAPF to Tripura: SC to Centre

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Union Home Ministry to offer further two firms of any Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) “as expeditiously as possible” to Tripura to make sure that voting for native physique polls within the state, which started earlier within the day, stay free and honest.

The bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath requested Tripura’s Director General of Police (DGP) and Home Secretary to “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 of the Government of India for necessary action”.

“Any such request having due regard of the statement made by the Solicitor General shall be duly considered,” the bench directed.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had assured the courtroom that ought to a requisition be made for extra paramilitary forces, the Union Home Ministry will reply instantly in a beneficial method.

The courtroom directed the State Election Commission (SEC), the DGP and Home Secretary “to ensure that every polling booth is manned by a sufficient strength of CAPF personnel, bearing in mind 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 arises.”

The courtroom ordered, “Necessary arrangements would also be made for deploying an adequate number of CAPF personnel to ensure the safety of ballots and to facilitate an unhindered counting of votes…”

The bench was listening to a plea by opposition Trinamool Congress and CPI(M), searching for the courtroom’s intervention to make sure free and honest elections in Tripura.

On being instructed that there have been not sufficient CCTV cameras, the courtroom directed that “in the absence of installation of adequate number of CCTV cameras, both electronic and print media should have unhindered access for full reporting and coverage of the election process”. It requested the state DGP, SEC and Home Secretary to difficulty orders to all polling officers and different personnel involved to present impact to this.

Senior advocates Gopal Shankaranarayanan and P V Surendranath, showing for TMC and CPI(M), respectively, instructed the courtroom that there was violence towards their social gathering cadre and incidents of outsiders barging into polling cubicles.

On November 23, the SC, whereas rejecting TMC’s prayer to postpone the polls, had directed the state DGP and IGP to carry a joint assembly with the State Election Commissioner by Wednesday morning to evaluate availability of enough CAPF power to be deployed for the elections.

On Thursday, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, showing for Tripura, instructed the bench that the assembly led to a request to the MHA for 2 further battalions since there could also be an emergency. He stated two firms of BSF was allotted to the state on instant foundation.

“Polling is absolutely peaceful since 7 am. The only hindrance to free and fair polls is from CPI(M) and Trinamool,” he added.

Shankaranarayanan identified that there have been 770 polling cubicles.

The bench stated that “instead of doing an anti-mortem or postmortem now, we will direct DGP and MHA to provide two additional companies of BSF to polling booths”, and that the scenario could be reassessed and attended to if wanted.