CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition by V Pugazhendhi, leader of Karnataka unit of AIADMK, a staunch supporter of rebel AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran, seeking to quash a sedition case registered by Annadanapatti police in Salem district against him. Justice M S Ramesh upheld the registration of the case against Pugalenthi. The charge against him and his 15 associates was that they had issued pamphlets against NEET, which were defamatory and seditious.
“With the facts of the present case in mind, the ingredients to constitute the offences of sedition, punishable under Section 124-A IPC, would be that there must be words written, which may amount to hatred or contempt or may excite or attempt to excite disaffection towards the government. Likewise, to constitute an offence of defamation, the ingredients would be that the persons who committed the offence, should have expressed by words that imputes the reputation of anybody and such imputation ought to have been made with the belief that it will harm such reputation. On a reading of the printed pamphlets, all the ingredients of Section 124-A, 499 and 500 IPC had been made out. The pamphlets/complaints read, in any meaning, has attempted to excite the disaffection towards the Central and State Governments and had also attempted to bringing the hatred and contempt against them,” the judge said.
As rightly pointed out by Advocate-General Vijay Narayan, there was a specific direction by the Supreme Court on September 8 last ordering the Chief Secretary and Home Secretary to ensure that law and order was maintained throughout the State in the wake of the agitations in respect of NEET. The Chief Secretary shall see to it that anyone involved in any kind of bandh or activity that disrupted normal life and detrimentally affected law and order shall be booked under the appropriate law, the judge said.
The judge pointed out that a peaceful protest or criticism or dissent was different from creating a law and order situation. Every citizen of this country has a fundamental right to peacefully protest and demonstrate, but not to cause a situation that would result in violence and paralyse the law and order situation. Since the complaint was based on the pamphlets, which also called upon the general public to agitate and demonstrate against NEET, among other slogans, it cannot be said that the order of the Apex Court has been misconstrued. The Supreme Court had, in explicit terms, directed the State Government to book violators involving in any kind of bandh or activity under the appropriate law, the judge pointed out and dismissed the petition.