The Madras High Court in the case Aravinth and others v. State recently observed and has quashed the criminal proceedings against 11 law students accused of raising slogans against the Srilankan Government, demanding their “Tamil Ealam issues”.
The bench comprising of Justice N Satish Kumar observed and stated that the students had democratically raised protest against the inaction of the police and such a gathering could not be held unlawful.
The court observed that at any event, it will not amount to an offence of a mere gathering of 5 persons, unless the action of such persons fit into any of the provision found in Section 141 of the CrPC to constitute such assembly as unlawful assembly. In such view of the matter. Thus, the court is of the view that continuation of prosecution is nothing but an abuse of process of law.
In the present case, the case of prosecution was that the students who were studying in a law college, on 17th March 2014, gathered outside the Chennai Ambedkar Government Law College blocked the roads and raised slogans against Srilankan Government. However, they were accused of wrongfully restraining the public movement and were thus charged under Sections 143, 145 r/w 149 of IPC and Sec.7(1) (a) Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1932 and 41 CP Act 1988.
The counsel appearing for the petitioner argued that the petitioners made the protest in a democratic manner, and even if the entire prosecution case was taken on record and no offence would be constituted. Further, the counsel sought for quashing of the prosecution.
It was noted by the court that even though usually the Court’s interference is limited under Section 482 of CrPC, however, when it is satisfied that the entire materials collected by the prosecution would not constitute an offence and the same would be a futile exercise and it will infringe upon the right of the persons, if the parties were directed to undergo trial.
Also, the court discussed that the definition of the term “Unlawful Assembly” and held that the petitioners had not committed any acts that would fall within the meaning of unlawful assembly. That is, it has not been shown by then that any criminal force to commit any mischief, crime of any offence or by way of criminal force or tried to take possession of the property or right to use of incorporeal right which is in possession of enjoyment of rights or others.
It was observed by the court that since the protest by the petitioners would not amount to an unlawful protest.
Accordingly, the criminal proceedings against them was to be quashed.