In an order dated 25th of March, 2021, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court quashed an FIR against protesters of Citizenship Amendment Act (Bill) on the streets, which in the opinion of the police created not only public nuisance, but also hindered the smooth flow of traffic in the city.
The bench of Hon’ble Justice Mrs. R. Hemalatha quashed the First Information Report (FIR) lodged in this regard, in Crime No.63 of 2020 of Boothapandy Police Station, Kanyakumari District.
The Court quashed the FIR, on the grounds that the protest was peaceful, and the right to such peaceful protests had been bestowed on the citizens of India by Article 19 of the Constitution of India, along with the rights of free speech and expression.
It was also noted by the Court that such act of protest had also not resulted in any untoward outcome.
With these observations in mind, the Hon’ble Court allowed the Criminal Original petition as had been filed before it.
On the 12th of March, 2020, an FIR was lodged by one Mariselvan, the Special Sub-Inspector of Police, Boothapandy Police Station, Kanyakumari District, with respect to protests on the street held by one Jafar Sathick @ Jahabar Sathick.
Such protests had been observed by the de-facto complainant, the Special Sub-Inspector of Police, while making his official rounds in his jurisdiction.
The complainant was of the opinion that the petitioner and others by their act had not only committed public nuisance, but also caused hindrance to the free flow of vehicular traffic on the road.
Earlier, in November 2020, the Madras High Court, in a bench of Justice J. Nisha Banu heard the case of Henri Tiphagne & Saathik Ali, the circumstances of which are similar to the instant case. The Court had observed with regard to the prayer of quashing of the FIR lodged against them, that “The Country had witnessed protests all over by different sections of people against the said amendments. Since the protest was peaceful and even the First Information Report does not disclose any act of violence or happening of the untoward incident, I am of the view that the continued prosecution is not warranted. Quashing the same will secure the ends of justice.”
The Court, in its order, pointed out that there had not been any untoward incident due to such protest by the petitioners.
The Court also observed that the First Information Report lodged due to such protest “has not disclosed any act of violence.”
The Court stated thus, “It must be unequivocally emphasized that the Constitution of India gives its Citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression, assemble peacefully and without arms, to form Associations and Unions and to move freely throughout the Territory of India under Article 19 (1) (a), (b), (c) and (d) of the Constitution of India. But of course these rights come with terms and conditions. In the instant case, the protest was peaceful and as already observed no untoward incident took place.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act (Bill) had seen massive protests by the people of opposing viewpoints throughout the country in 2020.
The Hon’ble Court granted the prayer of the petitioners by ordering in favour of the petitioners. The arguments of learned Advocate S. M. A. Jinnah, representing the petitioner, brought the order in favour of the petitioners.
The Court quashed the First Information Report as against the petitioner and allowed such Criminal Original Petition.
The Court further closed all the connected miscellaneous petitions in this regard.
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