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Tripura violence: SC tells police to hold action on activist’s tweets

Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna directed the cyber cell of the state police not to act in furtherance of its notice asking Twitter to take down the tweets and to also provide details of Samiullah Shabbir Khan's IP address and phone number for investigation.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: January 11, 2022 1:49:52 am
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The Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Tripura Police from pursuing any action on the tweets by an activist, Samiullah Shabbir Khan, on the alleged communal violence in the state last year.

Issuing a notice on Khan’s plea, a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna directed the cyber cell of the state police not to act in furtherance of its notice asking Twitter to take down the tweets and to also provide details of his IP address and phone number for investigation.

Khan’s counsel informed the bench that he had received a notice from Twitter about a communication from the Superintendent of Police (Cyber Crime), Crime Branch, Tripura Police on November 22, 2021 referring to the registration of cases under various sections of Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The communication had also sought removal of the contents of certain twitter accounts and asked for details of their user, their browsing details and phone numbers.

Khan’s counsel contended that writing about violence will not attract any of the offences mentioned in the police communication and that it amounted to an invasion of privacy.

In a related matter, the Supreme Court granted Tripura another week’s time to respond to a petition seeking independent probe into the flare up, after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the state, sought more time to file a reply.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, Advocate Ehtesham Hashmi, however said the court had issued a notice in the matter on November 29, 2021 and that further time was also given on December 13, but no reply had been filed yet, Mehta then submitted that he will file the affidavit within a week and raise some serious issues “which Bhushan will have to deal with”. The SG said there is “selective public interest” behind such petitions.

The petitioner said he was constrained to approach the top court to seek its urgent intervention as no concrete steps have been taken by the state police against the “miscreants and rioters” despite the gravity and magnitude of the incidents.

The plea added that instead of acting against the miscreants, the state police was “hand in glove with the perpetrators” of the crimes.

“The police and state authorities instead of attempting to stop the violence kept on claiming that there was no communal tension anywhere in Tripura and further denied reports of any mosque being set ablaze. However eventually police protection was extended to several mosques; orders were issued under Section 144 IPC; and compensation was also announced for the victims of the violence”, the petition contended.

The petition also highlighted the aspect of police issuing notices to two advocates and invoking the UAPA against 102 people, including journalists “for reporting and writing on the…violence”.

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