A Delhi court has discharged seven volunteers of India Against Corruption in a case related to a protest outside the Prime Minister's Officer in August 2012, holding that citizens have a "fundamental right" to assemble peacefully and without arms.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal granted the relief to Anil Kumar Singh, Ranjit Singh Bist, Kishore Singhal, Gautam Kumar, Mohit, Jagdish and Jitender Kumar on a discharge plea filed by them.
The court noted that the demonstration was peaceful, which was evident from the fact that the police personnel controlling the protesters had not suffered any injury and also there was not any prominent damage to any public property.
"It is not in dispute that the volunteers of an organisation, India Against Corruption, who have the fundamental right to assemble peacefully and without arms, were holding some kind of demonstration on the date of incident," the court said.
It noted that the prosecution had not alleged that that the accused persons were having arms or that they have any criminal intent in their assembly, nor was there any general problem of traffic.
"Since the assembly in this case was not an unlawful assembly and has not committed any offence, I have no doubt in my mind to opt for upholding the fundamental rights of citizens under Article 19 of the Constitution and finding that neither the prohibition of section 144 CrPC was valid nor validly communicated.
"Since the prohibition of section 144 was not valid therefore the accused of this case cannot be said to commit any offence under section 188 IPC and for that matter cannot be said to commit all other connected offences with which they are charged," the judge said.
According to the prosecution, on August 26, 2012, around 30 protesters held a demonstration in front of the PMO around noon and despite warning that prohibitory order under section 144 CrPC was imposed, they did not stop.
In the scuffle to stop the volunteers, one of the police personnel received injuries, the prosecution said.
The police had charged the accused persons with offences of obstructing public servants in the discharge of their public functions, assaulting them and disobeying the orders passed by them.
The accused had stated in their application that none of the demonstrations they have held in the past two years have been violent.
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