MADURAI: Recognising a person’s right to protest to express their grievance over a particular issue, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court recently quashed the criminal proceedings initiated against a man for protesting against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in 2012 and 2013.
As long as there is no violence or criminal activity, spontaneous crowding, slogan raising, and outburst should not be visited with criminal liability, Justice G Ilangovan said, while hearing a batch of petitions filed by the man, Ariharan Kencian.
Justice Ilangovan referred to an order passed by the Supreme Court in a related case in 2013, wherein the court advised the State government to withdraw the cases registered against Kudankulam protestors. Steps should be taken to educate the people of the necessity of the plant, which was in the larger interest of the nation, particularly for Tamil Nadu, it had said. But, till now, no effort has been taken by the State government to withdraw the cases, Justice Ilangovan observed.
In Kencian’s case, the judge noted that he was booked in several cases for his alleged involvement in protests against KKNPP in 2012 and 2013. In all the cases, only peaceful protests had been held, the judge noted and quashed the proceedings against Kencian.
Police claim under lens
Even according to the police, a large number of people – 700 in one and 950 in another – participated in the protests, the judge pointed out and wondered as to how the police managed to identify the petitioner. Withdrawing the cases registered against Kudankulam protestors has been a long-standing demand among the people of the locality. Early this year, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy Coordinator S P Udayakumar had petitioned the then chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to drop the charges, citing that many youth were unable to get passports or secure a job due to the criminal cases.