Mere Gathering of more than 5 people is not “unlawful assembly”: Madras High Court Drops Case Against Law Students Who Protested against the Sri Lankan Government

Criminal proceedings against 11 law students who were accused of yelling at the Sri Lankan government and demanding their “Tamil Ealam issues” have recently been dismissed by the Madras High Court. The matter was between Aravinth and others v. State (Crl.O.P. No.17853 of 2022) and was presided over by THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE N. SATHISH KUMAR.


On March 17, 2014, law school students protested outside the Chennai Ambedkar Government Law College by blocking the streets and yelling anti-Sri Lankan government chants. They were prosecuted under Sections 143, 145 r/w 149 of the IPC, Section 7(1) (a) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1932, and Sections 41 CP Act of 1988 because they were allegedly impermissibly restricting the public’s mobility.


The court noted that even though Section 482 of the CrPC typically limits the court’s ability to intervene, when it is satisfied that all of the evidence gathered by the prosecution would not amount to a crime, ordering the parties to stand trial would be a pointless endeavour that would violate the rights of the parties.

The petitioners had not engaged in any actions that would have qualified as an unlawful assembly, according to the court’s discussion of the definition of the word. That is, they haven’t used criminal force to do any harm, commit any crimes, or attempt to seize property or the right to utilise an incorporeal right that is used to protect the rights of others by criminal force. 

The court concluded that because the petitioners’ protest would not constitute an unlawful one, the criminal charges against them should be dropped.

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