Himachal Pradesh high Court has quashed an FIR filed against a lawyer while she was present at the site where lawyers were protesting the blocked ingress to the district court complex. The court held that even if this Court believes all the allegations in FIR as truthful, still there is no allegation against the petitioner of participating in any criminal act.
An FIR was registered against the lawyer for peacefully protesting the blocking of entries to the District court complex, Shimla from a shorter route which forced them to take the longer route, which in turn delayed them in attending courts. The charges invoked against her were wrongful restraint, forming unlawful assembly, rioting, indulging in criminal force to deter public servants from discharging their duties, intentional insult to breach the peace, and criminal intimidation. The counsel for the petitioner contended that even if all allegations recorded in FIR and investigation are hypothetically accepted to be true and correct, still such allegations fail to make out any prima facie case against the petitioner.
Justice Anoop Chitkara noted the settled law that non-compoundable offences can also be compounded, and the procedure to follow would be by quashing the FIR, and consequent proceedings. The court observed that while the FIR does not name the petitioner, even if it were to assume that she was present at the spot of the protest, it would still not lead to automatic inference of her acting with a common object with those who had inflicted fist blows, hurled abuses, and threatened the SHO, and also threatened to burn the Police Station.
“Even if this Court believes all the allegations in FIR as truthful, still there is no allegation against the petitioner of participating in any criminal act,” the court said. The court said that merely being present at the spot would not invite criminal charges and “holding peaceful processions, raising slogans, would not be and cannot be an offence,” the court held.
The court held that naming the lawyer as an accused amounted to a gross abuse of process of law and if proceedings were allowed to continue, it would amount to miscarriage of justice. the court thus invoked its inherent powers under section 482 of CrPC and quashed the FIR lodged against the petitioner.
The complete order may be read here