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Holding Peaceful Processions, Raising Slogans Can't Be An Offence: Himachal Pradesh High Court Quashes FIR Against Lady Advocate

Sparsh Upadhyay
24 Feb 2021 9:29 AM GMT
Holding Peaceful Processions, Raising Slogans Cant Be An Offence: Himachal Pradesh High Court Quashes FIR Against Lady Advocate
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Underlining that holding peaceful processions, raising slogans, would not be and cannot be an offence under India's Constitution, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday (22nd February) quashed an FIR filed against an Advocate under Sections 341, 143, 147, 149, 353, 504, and 506 IPC. The Bench of Justice Anoop Chitkara was hearing the plea of a lady Advocate and member of the...

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Underlining that holding peaceful processions, raising slogans, would not be and cannot be an offence under India's Constitution, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday (22nd February) quashed an FIR filed against an Advocate under Sections 341, 143, 147, 149, 353, 504, and 506 IPC.

The Bench of Justice Anoop Chitkara was hearing the plea of a lady Advocate and member of the Shimla District Courts Bar Association who prayed before the Court to quash the FIR, registered against him.

Petitioner's submission

It was submitted before the Court that lawyers were protesting peacefully against restricting the entries to the District Court complex Shimla from a shorter route, forcing them to take a longer way, which had traffic jams, resulting in a delay in attending to the Courts.

It was further alleged that the Police registered a concocted FIR due to wreaking vengeance with malicious intentions to scuttle the agitation and that the Police arraigned her as an accused because she was supporting their cause.

Prosecution's case

As per the Prosecution's case, a large number of Advocates had assembled at Boileauganj Bazar of Shimla town and they were insisting on taking their vehicles through the restricted road, though they did not have any valid permits to do so.

On this, the complainant SHO reached the spot of agitation and noticed many advocates assembled at the place, and the Petitioner was one of them and thereafter, the SHO asked them the reasons for creating the traffic jam by halting their vehicles.

Further, when the SHO asked the lawyers to show the permits for driving on the restricted road, the lawyers turned very aggressive and started pushing the police officials, inflicted fist blows, and hurled abuses on them.

On this, the complainant tried to calm them down, but they kept on hurling abuses, gave pushes, fist blows, threatened to burn the police station, and told the SHO that they would teach him a lesson never forget in his life. After that, these lawyers sat in protest at the spot and raised slogans.

After this, an FIR was registered against the lawyers and the petitioner was named as the person present at the spot.

Court's Observations

At the outset, the High Court noted that it need not wait for the completion of investigation and taking of cognizance by the Magistrate to quash the FIR.

The Court also observed that the offences, that are not listed as compoundable, under Section 320 CrPC, can also be compounded, and the procedure to follow would be by quashing the FIR, and consequent proceedings [see: R.P. Kapur v State of Punjab, AIR 1960 SC 866, MadhavraoJiwaji Rao Scindia v Sambhajirao Chandrojirao Angre, 1988 (1) SCC 692, Parbatbhai Aahir v State of Gujarat, (2017) 9 SCC 641]

Significantly, the Court observed that the FIR nowhere mentions the role of the petitioner and even if is presumed that the petitioner was present at the spot, it would still not lead to an automatic inference of her acting with a common object with those who had inflicted fist blows, hurled abuses, and threatened the SHO, and also threatened to burn the Police Station.

The Court further noted that although the police got a video recording of the incident, the State did not refer to the said portion of the disk at which time frame, the Petitioner was video recorded inflicting fist blows, hurling abuses, or threatening the SHO, or threatening to burn the Police station.

Significantly, the Court remarked,

"Mere presence at the spot in the demonstration would not invite criminal act in the facts and nature of allegations made in the present FIRtherefore, naming and arraigning the petitioner as an accused is a gross abuse of the process of law. If proceedings are allowed to be continued, it shall amount to the miscarriage of Justice."

Lastly, the Court was of the considered opinion that the continuation of the proceedings will not suffice any fruitful purpose whatsoever.

Consequently, the petition was allowed, and the FIR No.164/2019 was quashed along with all the consequential proceedings.

Case title - Anu Tuli Azta ...Petitioner. Versus State of H.P. [CrMMO No. 339 of 2020]

Click Here To Download Order/Judgment

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