The Madras High Court on Tuesday allowed compounding of offences against 21 students of Dr. Ambedkar Law College who were sentenced to three years imprisonment in connection with a clash in its campus in 2008.
While doing so, Justice R. Suresh Kumar reminded the students of the learnings of non-violence and the need for imbibing moral values along with academic education.
The court observed, “…during the school days and college days we should learn not only the academic studies but also the high morals. One must get instilled to lead a purposeful and meaningful life not only to the individual and to the family but also to the society at large. Hence, in the school and college days, only the universal brotherhood shall be the manthra among the students and in this regard, whatever animosity, ill will or hatchet emerged in day today life, that should be buried then and there. Ours is the nation of Mahatma Gandhi, who has given the greatest weapon to the mankind, which is none else than the “Non-violence”.”
The matter relates to the clash between two groups of students of the law college over celebrating 'Devar Jayanthi' on October 30, 2008, resulting in injuries to three of them.
Nineteen of them were then convicted by the trial court for offences punishable under Sections 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The remaining two were convicted under Section 324 only.
During the hearing, the high court was informed by Senior Counsel Mr. S. Ananthanarayanan and Mr. Gopinath, appearing for the appellants, that the appellants and the complainants had reached a settlement. They, therefore, sought compounding of offences between them.
The court, however, noted that in the case at hand, the accused had been convicted under Sections 148 and 324, both of which are non-compoundable offences within the meaning of Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
It then followed the course of action adopted by the Supreme Court in several cases and converted the offence under which the accused had been convicted to those under Section 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) of the IPC, which is a compoundable offence.
Thereafter, allowing their plea for compounding the offences, the court ruled, “In view of the said permission given for compounding the offence punishable under Section 325 of IPC, the punishment given by the Trial Court in both cases are hereby set aside. Since the appellants have already been on bail, the respective bail bonds of the appellants stand discharged. The appeals are ordered accordingly.”
It clarified that the fine amount already paid by the students needn’t be refunded to them, and be instead utilised by the authorities for providing legal aid to the needy and poor litigants through the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority.