Road roko a peaceful stir, not a crime: Judge

Coming down heavily on the Tamil Nadu Government for initiating criminal proceedings against 32 people for resorting to a road roko demanding water supply at Palayakottai village in Tiruppur District, the Madras High Court has held that such proceedings is an abuse of the process of court and it requires the interference of this court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482 of Cr.PC.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

Chennai

Quashing the criminal proceedings pending at the Kangeyam Judicial Magistrate court against these persons, including petitioner M. Nithyanandam, who was deprived of the selection as grade-II police constable owing to this, Justice N Anand Venkatesh, said, “It is an admitted fact that the accused persons resorted to a peaceful agitation and sat in the middle of the road demanding drinking water. When a man is pushed to desperation, sometimes he tends to overact to the situation.”

“These are matters where the administration is expected to act in a matured and balanced manner and the agitation must be taken in the right spirit and steps should be taken to provide drinking water to the people, the judge said while observing “If criminal proceedings are going to be initiated against people who are resorting to a peaceful protest, demanding basic necessities, then such criminal proceedings will have to be interfered with.”

Also, observing that the nature of agitation that was conducted by the accused persons is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution, Justice Anand Venkatesh said, “It is true that the agitation could have caused hardship to the general public for some time. That does not mean that the administration will proceed against the agitators and commence a criminal prosecution. This is not what is expected in democracy and this does not reflect any maturity on the part of the State machinery.”

“In the considered view of this court, the State ought not to have proceeded further with the prosecution and it should have left the agitators free after ensuring them with drinking water supply,” the judge held.

Further, while observing that continuation of the criminal proceedings is an abuse of process of court not only against the petitioner but also against all those persons who have been made as an accused in this case, Justice Anand Venkatesh said, “Unfortunately, in this case, the petitioner who was selected a Grade-II Police Constable, was deprived of the selection only because of the criminal case about which he was not even aware till he was informed after verification.”

“Adverse effects of such frivolous prosecution are clearly demonstrated in this case and the petitioner who should have been working as a Grade-II Police Constable by now has been made to run from pillar to post to sustain the job for which he was selected,” the judge added.

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