“Damocles Sword Is Hanging”: Orissa HC
The high court of Orissa passed a judgment on 05 April 2023, has recently quashed pending criminal proceedings against multiple former students of Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack for obstructing a public road in the course of staging a protest against the then Principal of the College back in 2017, in the case of Jeevanjyoti Mohanty & Ors. v. State of Odisha (CRLMC No. 491 of 2022) passed by the Single Judge Bench of Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik
Facts of the case
On September 21, 2017, several Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack, students who had come to the main road to protest and demand the suspension of their Principal filed a FIR. The accused were accused of blocking the road in front of the college, staging an agitation, shouting epithets at the principal, using slang, and engaging in overt conduct that caused the traffic to become sluggish. A case was filed in this regard against the petitioners and four other people under Sections 143, 353, 431, 294, 506, and 149 of the IPC. The petitioners claimed that they had been wrongfully accused and contested the very filing of the chargesheet. According to the petitioners, the protest was held because the College Administration declared sine die due to an election disagreement. They asserted that it was tranquil and did not harm any people or property. However, the neighborhood police opened an investigation into them. Furthermore, it was asserted that the local police had entrapped the petitioners despite the College Administration not having filed any complaints and without conducting a thorough investigation.
The Court noted that although the police had filed an incident report (FIR) for the claimed occurrence, neither the College Administration nor any other member of the public had complained to the local police about the incident.
The court also took note of the argument that some of the petitioners had gone on to become lawyers in the interim, others had graduated as law students and were hoping to work in the judiciary, one of them was also disabled, and that the then-president of the college, who had actually organized the protest, had passed away.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY HARSHEEN KAUR LUTHRA, RGNUL, PUNJAB