The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has observed that spontaneous crowding, slogan raising and outburst in the absence of any violation or any criminal act must not be visited with criminal liability.
The court quashed the criminal proceedings initiated against a Tirunelveli man for protesting against the establishing of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in 2013. Ariharan Kencian had sought the quashing of the criminal proceedings initiated against him.
Justice G. Ilangovan observed that it was established that the right to protest expressing grievance over a particular issue was well recognised. The only clarification was that it should not end in any illegal activity or crime.
The judge pointed out that the Supreme Court in 2013 observed that endeavour should be made to withdraw criminal cases filed against the agitators so that peace and normalcy be restored at Kudankulam.
Further, the Supreme Court had observed that steps must be taken to educate the people of the necessity of the plant which was in the larger interest of the nation particularly the State of Tamil Nadu, the judge said.
The case pertaining to the nuclear power plant was decided in 2013 but thereafter it appears that the problem which was created because of the running of the power plant did not abate and also no effort was made by the State government to withdraw the cases, the judge said.
As there was some sort of misconception with regard to the functioning of the plant, due to certain incidents that had taken place in various parts of the world, the protest by the people was a spontaneous one and not organised.
The judge also took note of the fact that one final report submitted by the police stated that in one such protest that took place at 1 a.m., police had identified protesters with the help of torch light.
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