HC quashes final report against two Madurai protesters

A view of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, in Madurai. File   | Photo Credit: ASHOK R

Bringing relief to two Madurai men who had distributed pamphlets against Sterlite Copper to passengers at the Madurai railway station, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has quashed the final report filed against them.

The court was hearing the petition filed by Sivakumar and Murali. They sought quashing of the final report filed against them pending before the Judicial Magistrate VI, Madurai. They distributed the pamphlets to passengers in 2018.

The case of the prosecution was that the activities created enmity among society and incited violence against the State. It was said they also indulged in nuisance. They were booked by the Railway Police. Following the investigation, the final report was filed.

The petitioners were booked under the Sections 153 (B) (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 505 (1)(b) and 505 (1)(c) (Statements conducting to public mischief) of IPC and Section 137 (1)(a) of Railways Act (attempting to travel without proper ticket).

Justice G. Ilangovan observed that the campaign or propaganda against the Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi was not an offence. Right to protest, propaganda and campaign was well recognised under the Constitution.

The court said that no doubt the protesters have the freedom of expression to protest and campaign, but they cannot enter any place at any time and issue pamphlets and indulge in protest and campaign. However, the offences were not attracted.

How the issuance of pamphlets, protesting and campaigning against Sterlite Copper would result in disruption of national integration is not known. Issuing pamphlets and protesting by no stretch of imagination can be considered to incite lawlessness in society, the court said.

The judge said that it was only advocacy. The Supreme Court had clearly made a distinction between advocacy and incitement. The major offences were not attracted and, therefore, the final report was liable to be quashed.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 4:26:04 PM |

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