Social media posting is a fundamental right, rules Tripura High Court

Remarking broadly, Chief Justice quashes case against arrested youth

Updated - January 12, 2020 11:25 pm IST

Published - January 12, 2020 09:32 pm IST - Agartala

Representational image. File

Representational image. File

In a landmark order, the High Court of Tripura ordered the police to refrain from prosecuting a man who was earlier arrested over a social media post. Chief Justice Akil Kureshi also barred the police from making any further arrest in connection with the case.

The Chief Justice passed the order on Friday after lawyers moved his court against the arrest and harassment of a Congress youth activist Arindam Bhattacharjee over his post on a social media platform. Mr. Bhattacharjee had in his Facebook page criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party’s online campaign in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and warned people to not dial a given phone number even by mistake.

“If you call 8866288662, all your data would go to hackers,” he had commented in his post, inviting the ire of BJP’s IT Cell, which responded with a police complaint.

Broadly remarks

The Chief Justice in his order broadly remarked that posting on social media was tantamount to a “fundamental right” applicable to all citizens, including government employees.

In compliance with the court’s order, the police have now erased Sections 120(B) and 153(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) from the relevant First Information Report (FIR) to quash the case.

Subal Bhowmik, senior Congress leader who unsuccessfully contested in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from the West Tripura constituency, hailed the order. Mr. Bhowmik had organised protests outside West Agartala Police Station after Mr. Bhattacharjee was detained.

‘Adhere to rules’

“The order has been in line with the very essence of the Indian Constitution. We hope police officers will henceforth adhere to the rule book and not try to act as henchmen of their political bosses,” Mr. Bhowmik, himself a lawyer, told The Hindu on Sunday.

He alleged that the police had harassed many innocent people, particularly youths, and dragged them into false cases in recent months, over their posts on micro blogging sites.

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