The Kerala High Court has quashed an unconstitutional protest and rioting as well as related proceedings before a magisterial court chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and 11 other CPI(M) leaders in connection to Human Chain 2009, a protest against India signing the trade deal in partnership with ASEAN countries.
The Supreme Court Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas quashed the case brought against the CPI(M) leaders, comprising Prakash Karat, former Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and current State Minister for General Education V Sivankutty, saying that there was no recourse to the force of a criminal by them or protesters. The protest was not perpetual. The normal flow of life was not affected; therefore, charges of illegal assembly or rioting in the context of the IPC weren’t substantiated.
The case was struck down by a plea filed before the court of appeals of the 12 CPI(M) members.
In quashing the case, the high court said as the leadership of a political group is not an excuse for prosecution, the status of the accused should not hinder the court from pursuing an unnecessary prosecution if the charges alleged aren’t identified in the complaint.
In its October 13 decision, a demonstration or gathering of individuals without evidence of force would not render the gathering unlawful.
“In this particular instance, there is not an allegation of any force employed by any suspects or any other assembly members. There isn’t any evidence of any common item used in being a criminal, as well as that the human chain was in place for a long time. There is also no instance that there was a disturbance or obstruction to the public over a long period of duration.
“The complainant (lawyer) is not alleging that the existence of his community has been ruined or paralyzed. It isn’t even a claim that the petitioner was hindered. In this case, I believe that the conduct claimed by those who filed the petition (CPI(M) leadership) does not meet the requirements in section 141 of the IPC,i.e. illegal gathering.” the high court stated.
The case against CPI(M) leadership was filed by a private complaint from a lawyer who claimed that the demonstration was an illegal gathering which also involved violent riots.
In an attempt to force the government of India to pull back out of the ASEAN free trade agreement, members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was planning to create a human chain across the state of Kerala to be placed along the side of the National Highway.
The human chain is said to have been formed across 500 kilometers in length, stretching all the way from Kasaragod to the north, to Thiruvananthapuram to the south.
The Supreme Court ruled that when the dissenters’ views were not causing any harm or causing a major nuisance, “it would be too risky to criminalize those who disagree.” “Merely since the dissenting opinion isn’t acceptable to the majority of people, that is not enough to take criminal action if the dissent is accompanied with disorderly, violent or destructive conduct by anyone in the assembly,” Justice Thomas said and concluded that the case “an misuse of the procedure of the court and has the potential to be influenced”.
The CPI(M) leaders had argued on appeal, that complaint filed against them was filed with ill motives and with no intention of revealing the motives, and that the crimes were not substantiated.
They also claimed they believed that this human chain had been forged as a result of their rights to express their opinions under Section 19 of the Constitutional Convention of India to use it as to demonstrate their displeasure at an act they considered to be in contradiction to their beliefs.
The prosecution even backed the assertions and arguments that were made by the CPI(M) leaders, saying that the allegations were not proven and that the incident was “politically driven”.