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FIR for protest over common cause curtails democratic dissent, says HC
The Madras High Court has held that if assembly of persons for a common cause is trifled with by registering an FIR (unlawful assembly) and a final report is filed for the same offence, no democratic dissent can ever be shown by citizens and such prohibition will amount to violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
Justice M Dhandapani made this observation while quashing the proceedings in the file of the Judicial Magistrate Court in Sattur, against a student for staging a protest with others in front of the Sattur Government hospital.
On February 17, 2016, Anandharaj, studying BA (English) third year in a college at SR Naidu Nagar, affiliated to Madurai Kamaraj University, committed suicide by self-immolation. Following this, the petitioner G Ayappan and other students, studying in Government College at Sattur, demonstrated and raised slogans against the Principal and the English Department HOD.
Since the petitioner and others demonstrated in front of the hospital and prevented the ingress and egress of public, the Village Administrative Officer, Sattur Village, lodged a complaint with the Sattur Town police. After investigation was completed, the police filed a charge sheet before the Judicial Magistrate Court No II, Sattur, against the petitioner and others and the same was taken on file in 2017.
However, Justice Dhandapani on accounting for the submission made by the petitioner’s counsel that the issue was already decided by this court in Jeevanandham and others Vs. State, in 2018, said, “Considering that the issue is squarely covered by the decision of this court in Jeevanandham’s case, this Criminal Original Petition is allowed and the proceedings on the file of the Judicial Magistrate Court is quashed in respect of the petitioner herein.”