May 11 2021, the Himachal Pradesh High Court quashed an FIR filed against two individuals for being a part of an unlawful assembly that blocked the National Highway. The petition moved before the court sought the quashing of an FIR based on the claim that the petitioners were not present in any protest and being booked without any evidence or identity verification. On May 28 2018, the police registered FIR against the petitioners and nine others after being informed that people were protesting on National Highway because they had been deprived of water supply for days.
Counsel for the petitioners submitted that petitioners were not in the protest and the hypothetically made allegations on the petitioners have failed to show any prima facie case. Counsel also submitted that there was no evidence pointing towards proving the said allegations. Therefore, he prayed that FIR and proceedings should be quashed. However, the Additional Advocate General, appearing for the State, argued that even if the petitioners did not participate in the protest but still they did not try to interfere and stop the ongoing protest by their neighbours and requested before the court to dismiss the petition.
The High Court observed that the role played by the petitioners in the protest was neither mentioned nor cleared in the FIR registered and the investigation report under section 173(2). The court also said the Counsel appearing for the State did not show any evidence against the petitioners. The High Court further stated that even this court assumed the petitioners were at the spot of protest still it could not be concluded that they participated in blocking the National Highway.
The court stated that the roads are lifelines of people be it highways, villages road, colonies road, street or path. Blocking those lifelines would neither be forgiven nor be permissible. Though, mere presence at the spot in the demonstration would not invite criminal acts in the facts and nature of allegations made in the present FIR. The court also suggested that video evidence are best for such cases. Since everyone has mobile phones with a camera nowadays.
Considering that the State has failed to obtain evidence against the petitioners that they were at the spot and even it was believed that all allegations made are true still mere presence would not prove their participation in the said criminal act. The court observed that the continuance of proceedings without any robust evidence would amount to a miscarriage of justice.
The High Court found the petition maintainable and quashed the FIR.