The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Tripura Police not to take further action against four students who had put up Twitter posts about communal violence in the state last year, reported PTI.
A bench of justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant directed West Agartala Police Station in Tripura not to undertake further proceedings against the students until the court passes orders on a plea filed by them.
On October 26, the the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had organised a rally in the state to protest against communal violence in Bangladesh earlier that month. The rally had led to violence and attacks on mosques as well as shops and homes of Muslims in Tripura.
However, 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 lawyersand journalists for allegedly spreading distorted and objectionable content about violence in the state.
The four students had been named in a first information report for their social media posts on the incident. The students had filed a petition to quash the FIR against them.
On Friday, Advocate Shahrukh Alam, on behalf of the petitioners, told the court that they had been served notices under section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code, which is a pre-arrest notice served to summon people on suspicion of a crime being committed.
Alam submitted that the Supreme Court has offered others protection in the past in a similar matter, reported PTI.
‘Do not harass petitioners’
At the hearing of a separate petition filed by accused persons in the matter, the Supreme Court had on February 7 told the Tripura police not to harass people in connection with social media posts about the communal violence in the state.
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, had challenged a notice issued by the police to Twitter asking the social media platform to remove his tweet.
In a fact-finding report on the violence, released in December, the Editors Guild of India had 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.