The Tripura government has told the Supreme Court that "public-spirited" citizens seeking an independent probe into the recent "communal riots" in the state have come with "unclean hands" and that under the garb of public interest, the forum of this court is being used for "oblique" purpose.
Pointing to the petitioner's "silence" on a series of pre-poll and post-poll violence that took place in West Bengal, the Tripura government said the so-called public spirit of the petitioners did not move a few months back on a larger scale of communal violence and suddenly their public spirit aroused due to some instances in a small state like Tripura.
"It is pointed out that such a selective outrage of the petitioner is not presented before this court as a defence but to satisfy this court that under the garb of public interest, the August forum of this court is used for apparently oblique purposes," an affidavit filed by the state government said.
"It is not a question of one petition or the other but the majesty and sanctity of the proceedings before the highest court of the country. No individual or group of individuals professionally functioning as public spirited persons/groups can selectively invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of the court to achieve some apparent but undisclosed motive. The selective rousing of public interest itself justifies dismissal of the petition with exemplary cost," the affidavit stated.
The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL filed by advocate Ethesham Hashmi seeking an independent probe into the recent "communal riots" in Tripura and the alleged complicity and inaction of the state police in it. The Tripura government further said that the petition is based on basis of a "private/sponsored" 'report' titled "Humanity under Attack in Tripura #Muslim Lives Matter" and is not maintainable.
"A genuine and bonafide public spirited citizen would not be selective in his public interest and would not be choosy about rushing before the court with regard to one state and keeping quiet with regard to the other," Tripura said.
The present case is clearly a case of selective outrage under the pretence of public interest and to achieve some undisclosed agenda, it alleged. The north-eastern state recently witnessed incidents of arson, looting and violence after reports emerged from Bangladesh that Hindu minorities there had been attacked during Durga Puja on allegations of blasphemy.
The plea by Hashmi has alleged that police authorities were hand in glove with the perpetrators and not a single arrest was made with respect to the rioters, responsible for vandalism and arson.
It said that 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 religious structure being set ablaze.
On November 11, the top court heard a plea of two advocates and a journalist seeking quashing of a criminal case lodged under the harsh UAPA provisions against them for allegedly bringing facts through social media posts about the violence against the minority community in Tripura.
These members of the civil society, who were part of a fact-finding committee, have also challenged the Constitutional validity of some provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 on the grounds that the definition of unlawful activities is vague and wide and moreover, the statute makes grant of bail to accused very difficult.