THE Supreme Court has agreed to hear on Tuesday a contempt petition filed by the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) against the Tripura Government, alleging that the law and order situation in the state is worsening day by day. This comes a day after the Tripura Police arrested actor and AITC’s youth-wing President Saayoni Ghosh on charges of promoting enmity between people, attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, and criminal conspiracy.
The matter was mentioned on Monday by Advocate-on-Record Amar Dave before a bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, who agreed to list the contempt petition on Tuesday.
On November 20, Ghosh had allegedly disturbed a municipal poll rally of Bharatiya Janta Party leader and state Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb at the Ashram Chowmuhani area of Agartala, the state capital.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress Members of Parliament (MP) decided to sit on a dharna from Monday morning in New Delhi over the alleged police brutality in Tripura.
Earlier this month, the apex court had directed the Tripura government to ensure that no political party was prevented from pursuing its electoral rights and from campaigning in a peaceful manner. It directed the Secretary in the state home department and the Director-General of Police to ensure that Court’s order is duly complied with.
A three-judge bench comprising Justices Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath had passed the order on a petition filed by AITC and its MP Sushmita Dev seeking the court’s intervention to ensure maintenance of security and safety in the areas where the elections to a Municipal Corporation, thirteen Municipal Councils and six Nagar Panchayats in the state are scheduled on November 25.
The petitioners alleged that violence had been taking place since August 2 against the representatives of the AITC and members pledging allegiance to it in the course of the election campaign. The petitioners brought to the notice of the court several incidents of violence.
It highlighted violence that broke out on October 22 when a team of AITC leaders and workers under Dev were in the midst of a “public contact program”. Though an FIR was registered against this incident of violence, no arrest had been made by the police. The petitioners thus contended that though the election process had commenced, the representatives of the AITC had been prevented from free recourse to electoral campaigning as a result of actual and threatened violence.
The Court observed that since the election process had commenced, it was the bounden obligation of the state machinery to ensure that no political party which is in the fray is prevented from pursuing its electoral rights in accordance with law and from campaigning in a peaceful and orderly manner.
As regards the plea for individual security, the apex court directed the concerned Superintendents of Police , who are impleaded as respondents, to take a decision having regard to the threat perception with reference to each case and area and take necessary action for the maintenance and provision of security, as required.
It directed the state government to file an affidavit explaining the steps being taken in pursuance of the present order and even otherwise to ensure that the process of election during the ensuing municipal elections in Tripura remains free and fair.
While the AITC is likely to cite the arrest of Ghosh as tantamount to contempt of its direction to the state government to ensure freedom of political parties and their leaders to campaign for the ensuing elections, the bench may come under pressure to intervene in view of the November 25 elections. The bench is, therefore, likely to decide whether the arrest of Ghosh comes in the way of free and fair elections in the state, whatever the police’s allegations against him.