The Supreme Court on Monday told the Tripura Police not to harass people in connection with social media posts about last year’s communal violence in the state, Live Law reported.
The court was hearing a group of petitions by lawyers and activists against whom the Tripura Police have taken action in connection with their social media posts. One of them, Samiullah Shabbir Khan, challenged a notice by the police to Twitter asking the company to remove his tweet. The police had also sought his IP address and phone number.
Shahrukh Alam, the counsel for Khan, said that the Supreme Court had on January 10 restrained the Tripura Police from taking action with respect to their notice to Twitter about Shabbir’s tweet.
Alam said that the order has not reached the superintendent of police, and that her client was given a notice asking him to appear before the police on Monday.
At Monday’s hearing, Justice DY Chandrachud told the counsel for the Tripura Police not to take action on the notice.
“Please ask your officers to not harass the petitioners like this,” the court told the counsel for the police, according to Bar and Bench. “Everyone cannot come to Supreme Court.”
Justice Chandrachud added, “When we have passed an order, how dare you not implement it? We will ask your home secretary and other officers to be present on the screen next time. At least show deference to our order when we have handled an issue.”
The counsel for the Tripura government said that he had no instructions or information about the government’s stand on the matter.
“What else is all this if it is not harassment?” the bench asked in response, according to PTI. “It is a very innocuous statement to say you don’t have instructions here while you keep doing all this.”
The court also told the lawyer for the Tripura government to convey both Monday’s order and the order dated January 10 to the authorities.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that he will make sure that the sanctity of the order was maintained.
Alam told the bench that the police had issued such notices to other persons as well, and they have been “scrambling” to get an urgent hearing from the court. Justice Chandrachud told her to send an email to the court master with the diary numbers of the petitions, after which they will be listed urgently.
Violence in Tripura
The police had repeatedly claimed that the law and order situation in the state was “absolutely normal”.
In November, the Tripura Police had invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against lawyers and journalists for allegedly spreading distorted and objectionable content about violence in the state.
The Editors Guild of India in December released a fact-finding report, in which it said that the Tripura government was “able to condition and manipulate the local media to prevent free expression”. It however, said that the government was not able to do so with news organisations or journalists based outside the state.
Another fact-finding report on the violence by a group of lawyers, titled “Humanity Under Attack in Tripura”, was released on November 2.
The report had stated that the violence had erupted because of the “irresponsibility of the administration, along with extremist organisations and the vested interests of ambitious politicians”. The report added that 12 mosques, nine shops and three houses of Muslims were damaged.