New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Tripura police not to take any coercive action against 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.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli also issued a notice to the Agartala police on the plea filed by advocates, Mukesh and Ansarul Haq, and journalist Shyam Meera Singh against the lodging of the FIR against them.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioners, submitted that the FIR was lodged against them after the advocates went for a 'fact-finding' job in connection with the violence in the state.
The members of the civil society, 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.
But, the bench decided to seek a response from the state but declined, for now, the request by Bhushan to tag the matter with a pending plea against the constitutional validity of the provisions of the UAPA.
On November 11, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear a plea challenging the Tripura Police's decision to invoke the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against the petitioners.
The petitioners said the present petition is being filed under Article 32 of the Constitution in relation to the targeted political violence against the Muslim minorities in Tripura during the second half of the month of October 2021.
"The subsequent efforts by the State of Tripura to monopolise the flow of information and facts emanating from the affected areas by invoking provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, (hereinafter, UAPA) against members of civil society including advocates and journalists who have made the effort to bring facts in relation to the targeted violence in the public domain", said the plea.
According to the petition, the fact-finding report titled "Humanity Under Attack in Tripura #Muslim Lives Matter," published on November 2, by Lawyers for Democracy, on the findings of a four-member fact-finding team comprising advocate Ehtesham Hashmi (Supreme Court), advocate Amit Srivastav (member, coordination committee, Lawyers for Democracy), advocate Ansar Indori (National Secretary, NCHRO), and advocate Mukesh (Member, PUCL Delhi) has brought on record evidence into the orchestrated and targeted violence perpetrated by political right-wing forces on the minority Muslim community in Tripura in October - purportedly as a counter to violence perpetrated on minority the Hindu community in Bangladesh, which continued until October 26.