Day 1 Oral Hearing: Tripura UAPA Charges

UAPA Charges Related to Tripura Violence

On February 7th 2022, Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant admonished the Tripura police for repeatedly issuing notices against social media users for tweets about the October 2021 violence in the State. The Bench observed that police had failed to show deference to earlier SC orders against such harassment. 

The Bench has previously directed the Tripura police to take no coercive action on its UAPA charges for tweets about the Tripura violence. First it provided relief to lawyers Mukesh Ansari, Ansaar Indori and journalist Shyam Meera Singh  in November 2021. Then it ordered that no coercive measures should be taken against activist Samiullah Shabbir Khan in January 2022. 

Today Advocate Shahrukh Alam stated that physical service of order for Khan upon the Tripura police was delayed. Even though the order was well reported in the media and was communicated to the Police via email, the Superintendent issued a notice for Khan’s appearance contrary to the Court’s order. The Bench ordered that the Tripura police should follow the January 2022 order and stop requiring Khan to appear at the police station. 

Ms. Alam stated that the problem extended beyond Khan—the Tripura police had issued similar notices of appearance to many other Twitter users. Many had already filed writ petitions before the Supreme Court and others were in the process of doing so. Ms. Alam stated that it would take time to get all these matters listed for hearing before the Bench. She requested 2 weeks protection from coercive action for the whole group. 

The Bench did not grant protection, stating that it must at least see the petitions before doing so. However, Chandrachud and Kant J observed that the Tripura police must show deference to the Court’s no coercive action orders on similar facts.The Bench was unhappy that people were being forced to come to the Supreme Court repeatedly to seek relief from this harassment. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Tripura government, promised to ensure that the Court’s orders were followed ‘in letter and spirit’.