SC restrains Tripura Police from acting  against 4 students who tweeted on violence

New Delhi, March 26 (PTI): The Supreme Court has restrained Tripura Police from taking any action against four students who had posted on social media against the alleged communal violence in the state last year.

A bench of justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant passed the order in four separate petitions filed by these people and tagged all of them with the pending petitions in the matter. "Pending further orders, there shall be a stay of further proceedings in Case No dated November 3, 2021, West Agartala Police Station, Tripura," the bench ordered on Friday.

Advocate Sharukh Alam, appearing for the petitioners, said that notices under section 41A of CrPC have been sent to these four people, who are students for their tweets on Tripura riots.

She submitted that the court had earlier protected several people for their similar action.

The bench said, "We will issue notice and tag these petitions and restrain the police from proceeding further."

It asked whether there is a common FIR against these four students to which Alam replied in affirmative.

On February 7, the top court had pulled up Tripura Police for sending notices to people for social media posts over alleged communal violence in the state despite its interim restraining order.

It had warned the counsel for the state that if Tripura Police does not refrain from harassing people, it will summon the Home Secretary and the police officials concerned.

The top court was then hearing a plea filed by journalist Samiullah Shabbir Khan against a notice issued by the Tripura Police seeking his appearance under Section 41A (Notice of appearance before police officer) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The top court on January 10 had restrained Tripura Police from acting on its notice to Twitter Inc with regard to a journalist's tweet about alleged communal violence in the state.

On November 17 last year, the top court had directed Tripura Police not to take any coercive action against the three civil society members, including a journalist, in connection with an FIR lodged under the harsh UAPA provisions against them for allegedly bringing facts through social media posts about targeted violence against the minority community in the state.

The three persons, who were part of a fact finding committee, have also challenged the Constitutional validity of some provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 on the grounds that the definition of unlawful activities is vague and wide; moreover, the statute makes grant of bail to accused very difficult.

The FIR took note of a tweet of one of the members of the civil society which had stated that "Tripura is burning".

Last year, the northeastern state witnessed incidents of arson, looting and violence after reports emerged from Bangladesh that the Hindu minorities there had been attacked during Durga Puja on allegations of blasphemy.