13 April 2023 4:45 AM GMT
The Orissa High Court has recently quashed pending criminal proceedings against multiple former students of Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack for obstructing a public road in the course of staging a protest against the then Principal of the College back in 2017.Noting undue delay in submission of chargesheet as well as framing of charges and having regard for the future prospects of the...
The Orissa High Court has recently quashed pending criminal proceedings against multiple former students of Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack for obstructing a public road in the course of staging a protest against the then Principal of the College back in 2017.
Noting undue delay in submission of chargesheet as well as framing of charges and having regard for the future prospects of the students concerned, the Single Judge Bench of Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik held,
“Such delay though may not be claimed unusual under normal circumstances but when pitted against the lives and career of the petitioners who are having high hopes and aspiration to grow and prosper, it is quite considerable and they cannot be allowed to face a life of uncertainty. Any further delay, as according to the Court, could result in persecution and hence, it is a fit case to bring an end to the proceeding so as to advance the cause of justice.”
An FIR was lodged on September 21, 2017 against some students of Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack, who came to main road in a protest demanding suspension of their Principal. It was alleged that the accused persons obstructed the road in front of the college staging an agitation and shouted slogan against the Principal, used slangs and committed overt acts for which the traffic was paralyzed.
In that connection, a case was registered under Sections 143, 353, 431, 294, 506 and 149, IPC against the petitioners and four others. The very filling of the chargesheet was challenged by the petitioners on the ground that they have been falsely implicated.
The petitioners submitted that the College Administration had declared sine die due to an election dispute and for that the protest was held. They claimed that it was peaceful without causing damage to any property or person. However, the local police registered the case against them. It was also claimed that the College Administration did not register any complaint but without any proper investigation, the local police entangled the petitioners.
Further, it was argued that the petitioners were unduly charge-sheeted without proper evidence and despite the chargesheet being filed in the year 2019, no charges have yet been framed against them. Therefore, they prayed, as some of the petitioners are Advocates at present and others are having a bright future, the criminal proceeding pending before the court below should be brought to an end.
The Court noted that the FIR was drawn by the police for the alleged incident and neither the College Administration nor anyone from the public lodged any complaint with the local police vis-a-vis the incident.
The Court also took note of the pleading that some of the petitioners have become lawyers in the meantime and others have passed out as law students and aspiring to join judiciary and one of them is also a disabled person and in so far as the then President of the college is concerned, who actually spearheaded the protest, has died in the meantime.
Having regard for the aforesaid facts, the Court held,
“Considering the nature of incident which originated from a college protest and since 2017, the Damocles sword is hanging over the petitioners, who await for the trial to commence which has still eluded them and in the meantime, precious five years have gone by, out of which, the investigation unreasonably consumed more than two years just to round off the culprits, the Court, in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, is of the humble view that the criminal action, which is pending for the last six years and before court below since 2019 without any real progress, should be terminated in the interest of justice.”
Accordingly, the pending case was quashed.
Case Title: Jeevanjyoti Mohanty & Ors. v. State of Odisha
Case No.: CRLMC No. 491 of 2022
Date of Judgment: April 6, 2023
Counsel for the Petitioners: Mr. Binayak Prasad Mohanty, Advocate
Counsel for the State: Mr. Pradip Kumar Rout, Addl. Govt. Advocate
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ori) 52
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