Allahabad High Court: In an application filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘CrPC’) to quash the entire proceedings of a criminal case relating to widespread incidents of violation of public order by protesting against Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, the National Register of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019., J.J. Munir,J. clarified that it does not mean to say that the charge against the accused persons are true, but there are materials in the case diary, which indicate that these could be true, and all this is a subject matter to be tested at the trial. Thus, rejected to quash proceedings
In the instant matter, the applicants/accused persons were charged with offences under Sections 323, 332, 336, 352, 395, 427, 435, 504, 506 and 120-B of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and Section 7 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1932 and Section 3 read with Section 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.
It was alleged that in December 2019 a mob consisting of 900-1000 rioters started open firing with illicit weapons on the Police and the administrative officers with an intention to kill.
The Court opined that that the present case relates to widespread incidents of violation of public order in the name of protest against a particular or more than one Bills introduced in Parliament. The Constitution guarantees to every citizen the right to protest peaceably and without arms. There is no sanction to unlawful assemblies that indulge in rioting and violence as a means to vindicate their rights, or to convey their point of view and said that democratic rights have to be exercised in a lawful manner.
After perusing the materials collected in the case diary, the Court said that there was rampant rioting, where there was assault on public officials, both uniformed and of the civil administration, besides members of the public There was also destruction of government and public property. Further, it said that to persuade the rioters to change their course, enough opportunity was given, but rioters persisted in their violent course and did not relent, until much damage had been done to public property and injury inflicted to different sections of the society.
The Court clarified that it does not mean to say that the charge against the accused persons are true. There are materials in the case diary, which indicate that these could be true, and all this is a subject matter to be tested at the trial. Thus, the Court rejected to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC to quash proceedings.
[Mohammad Talha v. State of U.P. 2023 SCC OnLine All 122, decided on 29-03-23]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
For Appellant: Advocate Vijay Kumar Mishra;
For Respondent: Government Advocate.