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Kerala HC quashes case against CPI(M) leaders

- October 13, 2022

Thiruvananthapuram, October 13 (BPNS)

The Kerala High Court on Thursday quashed the criminal proceedings against 12 CPI(M) leaders including chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. 

The case pertains to the statewide human chain protest in 2009 against the then Union government’s decision to sign the ASEAN (Association of SouthEast Asian Nations) free trade agreement. Quashing the case, Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas observed that the right to protest peaceably is an essential ingredient of the fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(b) of the Constitution of India.

“An assembly of persons without arms or criminal force or without any intent to commit an offense can only be a lawful assembly, which is not prohibited. In this context, it is appropriate to observe that the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to form an assembly guaranteed under the Constitution will be a dead letter if every assembly is regarded as offensive conduct,” reads an excerpt from the judgment.

It further added, “The right to dissent and the freedom to air views contrary to the views of the government is not offensive conduct. The right to dissent is the core of every democratic establishment.”

While quashing the proceedings the court also considered aspects like no allegation of criminal force by the said persons, no allegation of committing an offense, no case of causing inconvenience or obstruction to the public for an extended period of time, no allegation of crippling or paralyzing normal life of the community and others.

It was an advocate practicing in the courts at Thiruvananthapuram who preferred to file a private complaint before the Judicial First-Class Magistrate Court, Thiruvananthapuram alleging that the human chain formed on 2nd October 2009 between 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. resulted in various offenses including unlawful assembly.

At the same time, the CPI(M) leaders approached the high court to quash the case alleging that the complaint is filed with mala fide intentions and for oblique motives and that the offences alleged are not made out.