Supreme Court cautions Tripura police against ‘harassment’ over social media posts

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The Supreme Court on Monday orally accused the Tripura police of harassing people who take to social media on the communal violence that occurred in the State.

A Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant made it clear to the State that the court, if the “harassment” continued, would not hesitate to call for the presence of its Home Secretary in the hearing.

The Bench noted that the police, through a Superintendent of Police, have continued to issue notices to people for their social media posts despite a protective order from the court on January 10.

The court order was passed in the case of some lawyers and journalists who were booked under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) for their social media posts.

“Once we have passed an order covering an issue, albeit in one case, you must show the responsibility, some deference to the court. Otherwise, we will call the Superintendent of Police to us if he is trying to evade complying with the order by issuing all these kinds of notices to others. We will ask all to remain present, including the State Home Secretary. There is no other way,” Justice Chandrachud addressed the State counsel.

“What else is this if not harassment?” Justice Kant asked.

The court was hearing an application by activist Samiullah Shabir Khan against a notice issued by the police for his appearance.

Advocate Sharukh Alam, for Mr. Khan, submitted that the court had protected her client from the police on January 10 and stayed action on his tweets.

Ms. Alam said the January 10 order, “though reported widely, has formally remained to be served on the Superintendent of Police”.

The court reiterated that Mr. Khan should not be subject to any action by the police and, meanwhile, ordered the January 10 order to be served on the Superintendent of Police concerned.

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