SC to hear plea seeking SIT probe into Tripura violence on Jan 31

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday posted for hearing on January 31 a plea seeking an investigation by a special investigation team (SIT) into the recent communal incidents of violence in Tripura.

A Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud said it would hear the matter next Monday and granted time to the petitioner to file a rejoinder on the affidavit filed by the Tripura government.

During the brief hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Ehtesham Hashmi, told the Bench that Tripura government affidavit in the case on asking why public-spirited citizens who filed PIL on it were silent on West Bengal violence is “totally unbecoming” of a State government to indulge in “whataboutery”.

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Recently, the BJP-ruled Tripura government has vehemently opposed the petition seeking an investigation by an SIT into the communal incidents of violence in the State, saying the so-called “public-spirited persons” were silent when a “larger scale communal violence” occurred in West Bengal in May 2021 after the Bengal State Assembly elections.

The State government through its affidavit has said that the petition seeking a probe by SIT into the alleged violence during polls in Tripura was “selective” in nature and petitioners are setting a dangerous precedent by moving “self-serving PILs” when they kept silent when post-poll violence occurred in TMC-ruled West Bengal.

The affidavit was filed by the Tripura government in the plea of advocate Ehtesham Hashmi who sought the Court’s immediate intervention in hate crimes that allegedly took place in October in Tripura.

The affidavit stated that the PIL is entirely on the basis of a so-called fact-finding report authored by the Hashmi with three lawyers, sponsored by the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations, CFD and People’s Union for Civil Liberties, titled ‘Humanity under Attack in Tripura #Muslim Lives Matter’.

Seeking independent investigation into the alleged incidents of violence against the Muslim Community mentioned in the fact-finding report, co-authored by him, Hashmi approached the top court.

The Tripura government in its affidavit stated, “It is very surprising to note that just a few months back, a series of pre-poll and post-poll violence took place in West Bengal which was definitely wider in geography and very severe in magnitude.

The ‘so-called public spirit’ of the petitioners did not move a few months back in larger-scale communal violence (in West Bengal) and suddenly their ‘public spirit’ got aroused due to some instances in a small state like Tripura.”

It added, “No individuals or group of individuals professionally functioning as public-spirited persons can selectively invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court to achieve some apparent but undisclosed motive.”

Earlier, the apex court had issued notices to the Centre and Tripura government and sought their responses on a petition filed by Hashmi.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for Hashmi had argued that Hashmi had visited riot-affected areas in Tripura along with other Delhi based advocates and published a fact-finding report about the visit. However, instead of taking action against the miscreants and rioters, the police took action against those who spoke against the same, Bhushan added.

Instead of taking adequate steps to prevent the hate crimes that took place over a period of ten days or providing adequate relief to the victims, the authorities were hand in glove with the perpetrators, the top court was told.

The plea had stated, “The West Agartala Police Station has sent a notice under section 41 A of the Criminal Procedure Code to two of the advocates that had accompanied the petitioner to conduct a fact-finding exercise and document the incidents of violence, imputing that it was their social media posts, statements and Report which were responsible for “promoting enmity between religious groups as well as provoking people of different religious communities to commit a breach of peace”.


In another case, the top court on the plea of lawyers Mukesh Kumar and Ansarul Haq Ansari and journalist Shyam Meera Singh had issued notice to the Tripura police challenging its action to invoke Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) provisions them over their social media posts regarding the recent communal violence in Tripura.

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