Stop harassing people for their tweets, the Supreme Court told the Tripura government on Monday, after learning of a flurry of notices issued by the police to the families of activists, journalists, and others for their social media posts about the communal violence that erupted in the state last October.
"What is this?" says the narrator. Stop harassing people for their tweets in this manner. Nobody should be forced to go to the Supreme Court. What else could this be if not harassment? If you don't follow our directions, we'll summon your home secretary and superintendent of police to appear before us on video and give explanations," a bench led by Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud warned the lawyer for the Tripura government.
After learning that the state police were giving notifications to the family members of activists and journalists who had been granted protection from arrest by the top court, the bench, which included justice Surya Kant, was furious.
Following the court's January 10 order prohibiting the Tripura government from taking any coercive action against activist-journalist Samiullah Shabbir Khan, his mother, and a few other members of his family, Advocate Shahrukh Alam told the bench that police had sent notices to Khan's family members.
The state's lawyer, Shuvodeep Roy, stated that he had yet to get instructions from the authorities in charge of issuing notices to Khan's family members.
However, this submission was not well received by the bench. "Saying you don't have instructions is an innocent thing to say... The court answered, "That is what you say in this court and the state, you keep sending notices to everyone."
The bench was adamant that the police should not issue notifications under Section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code after it had protected Khan and other petitioners in cases involving tweets and other social media posts. To summon a party named in a complaint, a notice under Section 41A is sent.
The bench informed the state's counsel, "You cannot resist our instructions in this manner by issuing notices to everyone else in the identical facts of the case after our injunction."
On Monday, the court heard Khan's appeal against a police notice summoning him to Agartala for an investigation into a case filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for his tweets about communal violence in the state.
Several journalists, activists, and attorneys who were arrested by state police for their stories and social media posts about the October violence in the state have been safeguarded by the Supreme Court through different orders. The Tripura Police Department used UAPA rules to prosecute over a hundred persons for making anti-violence statements on social media. The government has attempted to portray that there was no serious violence.
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