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Madras High Court says assembling law students in front of their college cannot constitute unlawful assembly, quashes criminal proceedings against law students

The Madras High Court has recently ruled that the assembling of the law students in front of the Law College cannot constitute unlawful assembly while quashing all the criminal proceedings against law students who were denied permissions to celebrate the birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – the father of the Indian Constitution and consequently the students gathered in front of the law college.

 The single-judge bench of Justice G. R. Swaminathan said that the law college cannot call the assembling of law students in front of their law college as unlawful assembly.

On April 11, 2016 a group of law students including the accused gathered in front of their as all of them were looking forward to celebrate the birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar prior to his actual birthday which falls on April 14th. The students were denied the permission to celebrate the birthday because the Model Code of Conduct was in force during that time.

Consequently the law students raised slogans which in turn caused disturbance at the spot preventing public servants from performing their duties and obstructing the general traffic thereby.

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A criminal case was registered against the students under section 353, 188,143 and 341 of the Indian Penal Code and section 7(1) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act for allegedly damaging the photo of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and causing the damage of  Rs 150/-.

The counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner pleaded to quash the proceedings against the petitioner while restating all the contentions which were set out in the memorandum of grounds.

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On the other hand the Additional Public Prosecutor Contended that a case for quashing the impugned proceedings has not been made out by the petitioner.

Justice Swaminathan observed that the High Court held that the police officer cannot register a FIR for the offence under section 188 of Indian Penal Code.

The bench noted that the behavior on part of the students need not be given a criminal color as it appears that the students were agitated on not being permitted to celebrate the birthday of Dr Ambedkar in advance, as the required permissions were not granted to them by the concerned authorities.

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