“Mere Presence At Demonstration Spot Wouldn’t Invite Criminal Action”: HP High Court Quashes FIR Against Persons Protesting At National Highway

first_imgNews Updates”Mere Presence At Demonstration Spot Wouldn’t Invite Criminal Action”: HP High Court Quashes FIR Against Persons Protesting At National Highway Nupur Thapliyal14 May 2021 11:25 PMShare This – xObserving that all roads and Expressways are “lifelines”, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday quashed FIR registered against two persons for being members of an unlawful assembly which allegedly blocked National Highway, Shimla thereby causing wrongful restraint.Opining that it is “one of the exceptional cases where Court should exercise its inherent jurisdiction under sec. 482 of CrPC”, a single judge bench comprising of Justice Anoop Chitkara quashed the FIR and observed thus:”All roads, be it expressways, village roads, or colony roads, are lifelines. Under any pretext, how so ever justifiable it might be, the blocking of any highway, road, street, or path can neither be condoned nor forgiven or approved. However, mere presence at the spot in the demonstration would not invite criminal acts in the facts and nature of allegations made in the present FIR.”On 28th May 2018, FIR was registered by the Police against 11 persons including the two petitioners after receiving information that some people were protesting at the National Highway on not getting the water supply for days. According to police, the mob had allegedly blocked the Highway which was however opened after the ADM reached the spot and was successful in persuading the protestors. The FIR was registered under sec. 341 (Punishment for wrongful restraint) and 143 (Punishment for being a member of an unlawful assembly) of IPC.The petitioners had then approached the High Court seeking quashing of the FIR on the ground that they were not present at the spot and were implicated in the case without any evidence of identification.The petitioners had submitted before the Court that even if the allegations of the FIR and investigation are accepted hypothetically, they will “fail to make a prima facie case against them as there was no evidence to show that they had blocked the road.”On the other hand, seeing dismissal of the petition, the prosecution had submitted that even if the petitioners had not participated in the blockade, they “did not intervene and stopped their neighbors from blocking the road”.Observing that the investigation in the matter was complete and the report under sec. 173(2) of CrPC had also been filed in the matter, the Court observed thus:”Even if this Court presumes the petitioners present at the spot, it would still not lead to an automatic inference of their participation in blocking the road.”Furthermore, observing that mere presence at the spot in the demonstration would not invite criminal acts in the facts and nature of allegations made in the FIR, the Court went ahead to observe thus:”The best evidence in these situations is videography. Since almost every phone has a camera and inbuilt video recording features, the absence of videography would cast doubt about the credibility and genuineness of the investigation.”Furthermore, the Court allowed the writ petition and quashed the FIR registered against the petitioners by observing that if the proceedings are allowed to be continued, it shall “amount to the miscarriage of Justice.””The State has failed to produce single evidence to prove that the petitioners were also amongst those persons who had blocked the road. Thus, even if this Court believes all the allegations in FIR as truthful, still there is no allegation against the petitioners of participating in any criminal act.” The Court observed at the outset.Title: Ms. Anjali Soni Verma and another v. State of Himachal Pradesh and others Cr.MMO No.203 of 2021Click Here To Read JudgmentTagsNational Highway Protest Demonstration sit-in demonstration FIR Quashed HP High Court Himachal Pradesh High Court Presence At Demonstration Spot Next Storylast_img

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