NEW DELHI: A court in Kerala on Monday upheld a conviction of four students for their role in a protest in which they tried to prevent the authorities from transferring them to another school, but the case is likely to trigger protests in other parts of India and beyond.
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the prosecution to lodge a case against four students in the case, which is the first time the court has struck down a conviction in India.
The four were accused of throwing stones at the police after a protest that resulted in injuries to at least seven people, including two policemen, at a private boarding school in the district of Chikkamagaluru in October.
In the case against the four, a lawyer for the five students, who were sentenced to six years in prison on charges of inciting riots, alleged that the four had been coerced into attending the school.
In a motion filed in the Supreme Court, lawyer Suresh Goyal said that the three-judge bench of the three judges of the Supreme Judicial Tribunal for the Andhra Pradesh High Court had ruled on December 18 that they had been forced to attend the school under threat of physical violence and physical abuse and had committed “a criminal act”.
The bench also dismissed Goyal’s plea for a separate trial.
In their motion, the students said the four were not part of the protests that had been going on in their neighbourhood, but were “part of a larger movement to bring down the authorities and bring justice to the families of the deceased”.
The four, who have been in jail since December, said they were not aware that they were being held in the institution, where they were allegedly tortured and humiliated.
The three-member bench of justices Ujjwal Nikam and Sanjay Kapoor had on December 9 issued a notice directing the prosecution and the authorities to lodge charges in the matter and to take all necessary steps for the speedy disposal of the case.
They had also asked the police to take action against the students.
Earlier this month, a judge had sentenced the four to four years in jail and ordered the police and authorities to ensure that the remaining five students were transferred to other schools, after they refused to sign the police complaint that alleged abuse.