UAPA: Supreme Court agrees to fix date to hear plea to quash FIRs by Tripura police

Several persons sought the quashing of the FIRs registered against them for social media posts alleging communal violence in Tripura.

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to fix a date and hear a petition filed by several persons to quash the FIRs registered against them under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for social media posts alleging communal violence in Tripura.

Tripura Police have booked 102 social media users, including journalists and activists, under the UAPA and accused them of criminal conspiracy and forgery. The police have sent notices to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to freeze their accounts and sought information on them.

The State police had registered a case under UAPA against Supreme Court lawyers who were part of a fact-finding team which released a report on the alleged instances of communal violence in Tripura.

“These lawyers were part of the fact-finding team which investigated these incidents in Tripura. Social media users who posted messages like ‘Tripura is burning’ have also been charged under UAPA,” advocate Prashant Bhushan addressed a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana during the mentioning of the case for urgent hearing.

Chief Justice Ramana suggested the petitioners could approach the High Court first.

Mr. Bhushan replied that the petition had also challenged the constitutionality of certain provisions in the UAPA.

“For example, the term ‘unlawful activity’ has been given a very, very wide definition,” Mr. Bhushan replied.

The senior lawyer said the persons charged under UAPA were “eminently in danger of arrest”, and urged the Supreme Court to hear the case soon.

“Yes, I will give a date [for the hearing],” Chief Justice Ramana responded.

The Editors Guild of India had recently condemned the Tripura Police’s invocation of the draconian UAPA in the case.

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