The Karnataka High Court, Dharwad Bench recently quashed criminal proceedings against two men who were accused of painting “Hijab is our dignity” with black paint on school walls. The proceedings were registered for the offence punishable under Section 3 of the Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1981.

The bench in the matter noted that for an incident to become an offence under Section 3 of the Act, the rigor of Section 1 of the Act will have to be noticed. As per Section 1 of the Act to bring a place / local area within the ambit of the Act, a notification from the hands of the State Government is imperative.

Resultantly, a bench of Justice M.Nagaprasanna observed, “It is an admitted fact that Hosapete Town is not the one that is notified to be coming within the Act, for the respondents to allege that the petitioners have incurred themselves the wrath of Section 3 of the Act. In the light of the fact that there is no notification issued by the State bringing in Hosapete Town under the Act, further proceedings if permitted to continue would become an abuse of the process of the law and result in miscarriage of justice”.

Advocate Mohammed Azuruddin M appeared for the petitioner and, HCGP V S Kalasurmath appeared for the respondents.

In the present matter, a complaint was filed by the Headmaster of the Government Girls High School, Near CMC Hosapete, Vijayanagara, stating when all the students had left the school and the school had been closed for the day, the walls were clean. But when he entered the school premises on the very next day, the walls were painted “Hijab is our dignity” with black paint.

Pursuant to an investigation by the Police, a charge sheet was filed against the petitioners, which was under challenge in the present petition.

The petitioner contended that the offence under the Act could not have been laid against them as it is not one of those districts which have been notified to be coming under the Act, as is required in law.

However, the counsel for the respondents refuting the submissions, did admit the fact that no notification was issued, as is necessary under the Act.

Accordingly, the bench while allowing the petition, quashed the criminal proceedings.

Cause Title: Muzammil v. State of Karnataka [Neutral Citation: 2023:KHC-D:7989]

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