MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras HC, while quashing criminal proceedings pending against two anti-Sterlite protesters, observed that issuing pamphlets and staging protests against the running of Sterlite power plant cannot be considered as ‘inciting lawlessness’. Justice G Ilangovan quoted a judgment passed by the Supreme Court in 2015, which stated the distinction between advocacy and incitement.
A speech can be held to be an offence, when it is capable of inciting imminent lawless act, the top court had observed. “However, the petitioners had only issued pamphlets and protested against the running of the Sterlite power plant which, at no stretch of imagination, can be considered as an act which incited immediate lawlessness in the society. It is only an advocacy, not incitement,” the judge opined. Recalling the Sterlite issue and the subsequent closure of the plant, the judge expressed that the continuation of criminal proceedings against the petitioners is unnecessary.