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SC asks Centre to file reply by tomorrow on whether Sedition Law be kept in abeyance till it is being considered

The Apex Court’s three-judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana, and also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, while hearing a batch of petitions challenging the validity of Section 124-A of the IPC.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court today raised the question and asked the Centre that if the matter is adjourned till reconsideration is over, how would the Government deal with the people who are already booked under Section 124-A (Sedition Law) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and further cases that comes.

The Supreme Court asked the Centre by tomorrow to submit its stand on whether all sedition cases filed across the country could be kept in Abeyance or on hold, till the government finishes re-considering Section 124-A.

The Apex Court’s three-judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana, and also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, while hearing a batch of petitions challenging the validity of Section 124-A of the IPC.

The Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, senior lawyer appearing for for Centre, submitted to the Supreme Court that the Government is reconsidering the matter and the hearing may be deferred till the reconsideration is over.

Senior advocate and noted legal expert, Kapil Sibal appearing for the petitioners, objected to the submission of the SG, Mehta, that, “This exercise of the Court cannot be stopped merely because the legislature will take time to reconsider for 6 months or 1 year. I take strong objection to the Centre’s Affidavit. It is for the judiciary to examine the constitutionality of law.”

The bench upon hearing the counsel raised the question the SG stating that, “We cannot ask everyone to attend the courts and be in jail for months. When Government itself has shown concerns about misuse how will you protect them. We have to balance the people who are jailed and people who are going to be booked.”

The bench of the Supreme Court asked the SG to take instruction from the Government on the questions raised and to respond tomorrow.

The Court had on previous hearing raised the contention that whether the issue of challenging the validity of Section 124-A of the IPC should be referred to a constitutional bench or not.

The SG Mehta had asked the Apex court for more time to file his reply after considering it with the appropriate authorities.

The Government in its reply filed has stated that the Government is fully cognizant of various views being expressed on the subject and has decided to re-examine and re-consider the provisions of Section 124-A of the IPC and had asked the court to not invest time in examining the validity of the law and await the exercise of reconsideration.

The Centre had yesterday filed its affidavit before the Supreme Court, and stated that it wanted to re-examine and re-consider the provisions of Section 124-A of the IPC.

The Centre said to re-examine and re-consider the sedition law, in the spirit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and the vision of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

“We decide to re-examine & reconsider the provisions of Section 124-A of the IPC,” the Centre said and urged it to “await the exercise…to be undertaken by the GOI before an appropriate forum where such reconsideration is constitutionally permitted.

The Government of India has filed the affidavit in response in the Sedition matter stating that there are divergence of views expressed in public domain by various jurist, academicians, intellectuals and citizens in general.

The Centre submitted that the Prime Minister of India has been cognizant of various views expressed on the subject and has also expressed his views on various forums.

The petitioners in the case had challenged the constitutional validity of the Sedition law are: Editors Guild of India (EGI), former Major-General S G Vombatkere, Trinamool Congress (TMC) Member of Parliament- Mahua Moitra, Anil Chamadia, journalist, Patricia Mukhim and many others.

The section 124-A of the IPC deals with any speech that brings or to bring into hatred or contempt or disaffection towards the government established by law in India a criminal offence punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Former Union minister of Information Technology (IT) and veteran journalist, Arun Shourie also moved the Supreme Court in the issue and filed a petition before it and said that sedition law is violative of Articles 14 and 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.