Decided on September 05,2022



S.G.CHATTOPADHYAY, J. - (1.)This suo motu public interest litigation came to be registered on the basis of newspaper reports published in various national and local dailies reporting the widespread violence which occurred in North Tripura district, Unakoti district and Sepahijala district in Tripura on 26/10/2021.
(2.)On 29/10/2021, when the matter was first taken up, learned Advocate General submitted a brief note before the Court indicating various steps taken by the State Government to prevent the spread of violence and book the perpetrators of the crime. Having considered the said note of the learned Advocate General and the submissions made by him, the following order was passed by this Court on 29/10/2021:
"After the learned Advocate General brought to our notice the developments as noted hereinabove, the Court indicated to the learned Advocate General its sole concern i.e. the protection of life, liberty and property of all citizens of Tripura. There can be no reiteration that the State owes its responsibilities insofar as maintenance of law and order as well as providing citizens with the security to protect their life, livelihood as well as their properties. Today's local newspapers of Tripura indicate that an uneasy calm is prevalent and no repetition of the occurrences which took place on 26/10/2021 has yet taken place. It is further informed that all necessary steps are being taken by the State to ensure that such occurrences are not repeated.

While taking note of the developments as noted hereinabove, this Court also considers it appropriate to take note of the fact that various peace committees have been formed in various locations where communal strife exists. While commending such efforts on the part of the state, this Court also commends the steps taken by various political parties to restore peace and order within the state. These steps, in our considered view, will go a long way in regaining the confidence of the citizens at large. However, these steps need to be further expanded. Accordingly, the state may consider forming peace committees not only at district levels but also at sub-divisional levels and if necessary at panchayat levels as well and we call upon all political parties to participate fully in such peace process so that confidence of the people of the state can be restored and the underlying strife that exists can be suitably dealt with.

Various cases have been registered pursuant to the violence that took place on 26/10/2021 and incidence which took place prior thereto. We call upon the state to file an affidavit stating the stages at which the investigation is going on and as to whether any accused has been apprehended in such manner.

This Court also takes into notice of the fact that the Hon'ble Chief Minister of the State has reported in the local press yesterday as well as today that he has directed the officials concerned to compute the damages that have occurred and to immediately see the compensation as deemed appropriate is granted to them. We direct the state to take urgent action in this regard so that the livelihood of persons who have lost their source of income can be restored at the earliest.

In this regard, we wish to record our appreciation of the media at large, in particular the print media who appear to have taken up a very active positive role in trying to restore peace and order within the state. We assert that the media shall remain vigilant at all time and continue discharging its duty in a responsible manner which it has already exhibited. However, it is brought to our notice by the Advocate General that social media in particular have been carrying certain articles or visual footages which are either morphed and/or unrelated to the State of Tripura with sole intent of once again reigniting the passions of people. We direct the State to initiate appropriate action against all such social media platforms in order to ensure that such false, fictitious and or fabricated news articles or visual footages do not come on to the social media platforms and even if they do so that they are removed at the earliest opportunity. This Court calls upon the social media platforms to also act responsibly since today. Media has every right, as a part of their activities to publish the truth. It should not be allowed to be used to spread untruth and spread communal passion."

(3.)The State respondents were directed to file affidavit before this Court on or before 10/11/2021 indicating the preventive measures taken by them and their plan of scuttling the design of stoking communal passion.

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