Tamil Nadu

‘Sloganeering ought not to attract criminal prosecution’

Holding that slogan shouting by itself, in the absence of any other adverse consequence, ought not to attract criminal prosecution, Justice G.R. Swaminathan of the Madras High Court on Thursday granted bail to two women Maoists, both aged above 50, who have been in prison for over three years.

Taking note of the State’s submission on their sloganeering, the judge observed: “We are a functioning democracy. Free speech is a cherished fundamental right....Therefore on occasions of arrest or remand, they are bound to raise slogans.”

It is not the case of the prosecution that something untoward happened as a result. The women’s right to speedy trial was infringed on account of their prolonged imprisonment, he said.

The judge granted bail to Kala, 59, and Chandra, 52, in one of the four cases pending against them. He added that they had not committed any act of violence and the court cannot lose sight of the fact that they are women.

The court was informed that the women had indulged in provocative sloganeering after attending the funeral of Manivasagam, Kala’s husband and Chandra’s brother, who was shot dead in an encounter in Kerala, last year. The court had granted the women leave to attend the funeral.

The Q Branch, which arrested the women, had said that when their home in Karur was searched, mobile phones, SIM cards and literature of a banned organisation was found.

There was of course material to conclude that the petitioners were members of a banned organisation.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 3:22:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sloganeering-ought-not-to-attract-criminal-prosecution/article30936377.ece

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