Tripura violence: Supreme Court refuses to order SIT probe, asks petitioner to move High Court

NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court on Friday refused to order an SIT probe into the Tripura violence last year, and asked the petitioner to move the Tripura High Court, which is hearing a related matter.

A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant asked the high court to dispose of the plea expeditiously.

Justice Chandrachud said since the matter is already being heard by the high court, which took suo motu, then the petitioner can raise his contentions over there. The bench told advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing advocate Ehtesham Hashmi, that his client can raise the issues there and the high court will not only hear the matters before it, but also the issues raised by the petitioner.

Bhushan urged the bench to direct the high court to decide issues raised by the petitioner expeditiously. The top court also allowed the petitioner to make a request to the high court to allow him appear through video conferencing and asked the authorities not to take coercive action, if he were to attend the physical hearing over there.

Bhushan argued that there was serious communal violence, where mosques were burnt. “We prayed for an independent probe in violence,” said Bhushan. He added that the chief minister is still in denial and he is also denying all communal violence and says no mosque has been burnt.

Justice Chandrachud said: “If the Chief Justice of state High Court is already hearing after taking suo motu cognisance, we should not intervene at this juncture, as it will amount to expression of no-confidence in high court”.

Bhushan said the high court is only looking into prayers for compensation and his client is seeking an impartial SIT probe. He also mentioned his client’s apprehensions regarding coercive action by the authorities. The bench replied that the court will protect his client.

On November 29 last year, the top court issued notice on a plea seeking independent SIT probe into the communal violence in Tripura. The plea had arrayed Centre, DGP Tripura, and the Tripura government as respondents.

The plea claimed that between October 13 and October 27, last year, hate crimes were perpetrated in Tripura by organised mobs. “Included damage to mosques, burning of business establishments owned by Muslims, organising rallies shouting Islamophobic and genocidal hate slogans and delivering hate speeches targeting Muslims in various parts of Tripura”, said the plea.

The plea also claimed that state government authorities and the police were hand in glove with the perpetrators of the alleged hate crimes. “The Police and State authorities instead of attempting to stop the violence kept on claiming that there was no communal tension anywhere in Tripura and further denied reports of any mosque being set ablaze. However, eventually the police protection was extended to several mosques; orders were issued under Section 144 IPC; and compensation was also announced for the victims of the violence,” said the plea.

The petitioner had urged the top court to issue direction to ensure that an independent, credible and impartial investigation is conducted into the incidents of violence against the Muslim community as evidenced by the fact-finding report titled: “Humanity Under Attack in Tripura” by SIT. — IANS

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