The Madras High Court on February 15 ruled that sitting on a hunger strike cannot attract the offence under Section 309 of the IPC and it would not constitute an attempt to commit suicide.
A single bench of justice N Anand Venkatesh quashed the criminal proceedings against P Chandrakumar who had participated in a hunger strike in 2013.
“The mere fact that the petitioner has protested by sitting on hunger strike will not attract the offence under Section 309 IPC. Even if the materials available on record are taken as it is, it does not constitute an offence under Section 309 IPC,” the Justice held.
Advocate P Pugelendhi, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner, brought to the notice of the court that Chandrakumar was detained in a special camp in Poonamallee in 2013. He sat on a hunger strike for 10 days from August 15 to August 24, 2013 and subsequently his health condition had worsened.
Based on the complaint of a police personnel at the camp, an FIR had been registered against the petitioner under section 309 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
A charge sheet was filed in 2016 and after that, the trial court took cognizance of the case. The petitioner’s counsel raised two grounds. The counsel said even if the allegations are taken as it is, no offence has been made out under Section 309 IPC. The second ground that had been raised was that the trial court was barred from taking cognizance of the 2013 FIR in 2016 in view of Section 468 of the CRPC.
The counsel argued that in case of Section 309 of the IPC, punishable with simple imprisonment which could extend up to maximum period of one year, the magistrate ought to have taken cognizance within one year but it took three years to take cognizance of the final report.
“The court below ought to have taken cognizance within a period of one year since the offence is punishable for a maximum period of one year. However, the court below has taken cognizance after nearly three years without assigning any reasons. Therefore, taking cognizance of the final report by the court below is barred by law and stands vitiated,” the judge held.
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