Sedition Case Only If Senior Officer Deems Fit: Centre To Supreme Court

Sedition Case Only If Senior Officer Deems Fit: Centre To Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is hearing a petition against the sedition law

New Delhi:

Sedition cases already filed should not be put on hold while the law is under review, the government told the Supreme Court today, recommending, for now, a change in the way such cases are filed.

“The government proposes to the Supreme Court that a police officer of the level of Superintendent or above should decide, for now, on whether a sedition charge should be filed in future FIRs,” the Centre’s lawyer, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, told the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the court had asked the centre to reply on whether it is willing to put all pending and future cases of sedition on hold while the government finished re-examining the law.

The government was not in favour of putting sedition cases on hold. “There has to be a layer of scrutiny, where a responsible officer is there to scrutinise the gravity of the situation and there of course would be judicial forums,” said the Solicitor General.

Pending cases, the government said, were already before courts. “And they may involve terrorism and other additional charges. They are already before courts and should be left on courts to decide,” said the government.

“We do not know the gravity of offences pan India. There may be other terrorism charges too in these cases. These pending cases are not before police or government. But they are before Court. So, we should not guess the wisdom of Courts,” Mr Mehta said.

He added: “You may direct that bail orders should be decided expeditiously. But beyond that, staying a law whose constitutionality has already been judged in the past would be incorrect.”

Petitioners opposed the government’s stand and urged the court to pause the sedition law until the government’s review of the colonial-era legislation is over.

To which, the Solicitor General said: “We cannot undermine the respect for the judiciary of the country.”

The three judges hearing the arguments announced a break for a few minutes to discuss the subject in private.

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