According to media reports, Justice P Dhanapal of the Madurai bench observed it did not constitute an offence and the matter was trivial in nature
The Madras High Court Wednesday quashed the proceedings pending before the Judicial Magistrate III in Thoothukudi against a student who was arrested for raising slogans against the BJP-led Union government in the presence of the party’s former Tamil Nadu president and present Governor of Telangana and Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan when she was in a flight in September 2018.
According to media reports, Justice P Dhanapal of the Madurai bench observed it did not constitute an offence and the matter was trivial in nature. The court had quashed the proceedings before the Judicial Magistrate III in Thoothukudi.
The court, by quashing the proceedings against her, observed that the due procedure under Section 155 of the CrPC was not followed and also said that the police inserted Section 505 (1) (B) of the IPC in the FIR.
The court further observed that the provisions of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act would not apply.
The court was hearing the petition filed in 2019 by Lois Sofia, a research scholar from Canada who had sought the quashing of the proceedings against herself.
In 2018, Sofia was arrested after she shouted “fascist BJP government down, down” in the presence of Soundararajan. Based on a complaint by Soundararajan, Sofia, who was travelling with her parents from Chennai, was taken into custody after the flight landed at Tuticorin.
She was charged under Sections 505 (statements conducting to public mischief), 290 (public nuisance) and Section 75 of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act by the Pudukkotai police.
Sofia was granted bail by a Thoothukudi court a day after she was arrested.
However, her arrest led to an outrage in the state with then opposition leader M K Stalin accusing the AIADMK government of stifling the right to speech. The incident took place in the aftermath of the Sterlite Protest which claimed the lives of 13 people in police firing in Thoothukudi.
Sofia’s father Dr A A Sami then approached the Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) claiming the police caused mental agony to his daughter in the pretext of conducting an inquiry.
In March 2022, accepting the contention of Sofia, the SHRC ordered the state government to issue a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to Sofia besides recommending disciplinary proceedings against seven police personnel.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Sophia issued a statement claiming that the Madras High Court has quashed the FIR and charge sheet filed against her in 2018 at the behest of Soundararajan.
“The judgment from the Madras High Court today quashing the FIR and charge sheet against me marks the end of a nearly 5 year legal battle. I said the four words once in Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan’s hearing. Her subsequent actions – goading party men, misrepresenting what happened, using the state machinery to intimidate and legally harass me are now a matter of public record,” she noted.
Saying that it was a tough battle for her, she claimed that she was fortunate to mostly escape political persecution and if not for the swift and overwhelming support from public, journalists, politicians and others in public life, the actions of former Tamil Nadu BJP president and the police against her would have gone unnoticed.
“I earnestly wish that we also stand by all victims of political injustice and commit to upholding freedom of speech,” she added.