SC tells lawyer who sought SIT probe into Tripura violence to move high court
The Supreme Court shielded Dehi-based lawyer Ehtesham Hashmi from arrest by the Tripura Police in view of a UAPA case registered against him, and told the police not to take any action that impedes his appearance before the high court
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday directed a Delhi-based lawyer seeking an independent probe into the Tripura communal violence incidents to approach the Tripura high court where a suo moto petition on the same issue was pending.
Since lawyer, Ehtesham Hashmi, apprehended arrest by the Tripura police, which has slapped a case under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for his reporting on the violence, the top court ordered the state police not to take any “precipitative steps” that could impede his appearance before the high court. As a special concession, the court also allowed the high court to consider the petitioner’s request to appear through video conferencing and urged the matter be decided expeditiously.
Hashmi, who was represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, has sought a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) alleging complicity by police and state government in brushing aside incidents of violence against Muslims including destruction of a mosque. He said that though the state denied these incidents in its affidavit before the top court, the same incidents were accepted to be true in a status report filed by state police before the high court which is hearing a suo moto petition on the incidents of violence in the state in October last year.
A bench of justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant said, “Since the high court is seized of the suo moto proceedings, it would be appropriate if the issues sought to be highlighted in these proceedings are permitted to be raised before the high court by filing a suitable application.”
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Tripura government, sought an order from Court to restrain the petitioner from making any inflammatory posts. The court noted that parties will be at liberty to raise all rights and contentions before the high court.
Last month, the state government filed an affidavit denying the petitioner’s allegations and questioned his bonafide. “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 were definitely wider and in geography and very severe in magnitude. The so-called public spirit of the petitioners did not move in a larger scale of communal violence and suddenly their public spirit aroused due to some instances in a small state like Tripura.”
Hashmi relied on the findings of a report prepared by him and three lawyers under the title – “Humanity Under Attack in Tripura #MuslimLivesMatter” and demanded a probe into the incidents of violence highlighted in the report.