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"Showing Protest Is Hallmark Of Democracy": Madras HC Quashes Sedition Case Against Two For Distributing Hand Bills In 2018 Anti-Sterlite Protest

Nupur Thapliyal
25 July 2021 1:42 PM GMT
Showing Protest Is Hallmark Of Democracy: Madras HC Quashes Sedition Case Against Two For Distributing Hand Bills In 2018 Anti-Sterlite Protest
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Observing that showing protest, being a fundamental right, is a hallmark of democracy, the Madras High Court recently quashed criminal case against two persons booked under sedition for distributing hand bills against the Centre and State Government in relation to the 2018 Anti-Sterlite Protest.Justice M. Nirmal Kumar was dealing with a petition seeking quashing of the criminal case against...

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Observing that showing protest, being a fundamental right, is a hallmark of democracy, the Madras High Court recently quashed criminal case against two persons booked under sedition for distributing hand bills against the Centre and State Government in relation to the 2018 Anti-Sterlite Protest.

Justice M. Nirmal Kumar was dealing with a petition seeking quashing of the criminal case against one M. Vinayagar who was facing trial under sec. 294(b), 124A, 353 and 505(1)(b) of IPC. It was argued that it is a false case and that the sanction required under Section 196 of Cr.P.C. for the offence of Sedition was not obtained by the lower court.

On 7th July 2018, the petitioner along with one other accused (not being a party to the instant petition for quashing), had assembled and distributed hand bills to the public. Alleging that the same are provocative against the State and Central Government, a police constable warned them not to indulge in such activities. Later, the constable alleged that the two abused and threatened him and thus, registered a complaint.

It was the case of the petitioner that a plain reading of hand bills would show that they were only raising voice against killing of 13 civilians during the Anti-Sterlite protest in the year 2018.

On a perusal of the material placed on record, the Court observed,

"On going through the contents of hand bill, it is found that in the hand bill mentions 13 civilians shot dead. Showing protest is a hallmark of democracy and it is a fundamental right. Likewise, the petitioners were only raising solidarity with the deceased and raising concerned about the high handedness in the action of shooting the innocent protesters, inaction of the State and Central Government, other than that nothing more is found in the hand bill."

On the aspect of sanction not taken by the Lower Court, the Court observed that the case can be quashed "on this score alone."

Furthermore, it was observed that none of the witnesses had said anything about what were the words used in abusing the defacto complainant (constable) and how the two accused threatened him.

In this backdrop, the Court quashed the criminal proceedings against the petitioner as well as the other accused person.

"In this case, A2 is similarly placed accused, though he has not filed any petition, in view of the similar grounds available to A2, the proceedings against A2 also is hereby quashed," the Court said.

Case Title: M.Vinayagar v. State & Anr.

Click Here To Read Order

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