The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the Centre’s stand on keeping the pending sedition cases in abeyance to protect the interests of citizens already booked and not registering fresh cases till the government’s re-examination of the colonial-era penal law is over.
The top court asked the Centre to file a response on Wednesday.
Asking the Centre to take a clear stand after it posed the two specific queries, the top court agreed that a re-look of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code(IPC) be left to the government, a day after it had filed an affidavit deciding to reconsider the contentious provision.
The court, however, expressed concern over the continuous abuse of the provision and even suggested that guidelines may be issued to stop the abuse or a decision to keep the sedition law in abeyance till the review exercise is completed.
The Centre’s affidavit had said it has decided to “re-examine and re-consider” the sedition law by an “appropriate forum”, in a change of stance just two days after stoutly defending this law, and also urged the Supreme Court not to “invest time” in examining its validity once again.
The top court, which was to decide whether a three or five-judge bench should hear the batch of pleas challenging the validity of the sedition law, took note of the fresh stand of the government.
Here are the LIVE updates on the Sedition Hearing
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The three judge bench has taken a break for a few minutes to discuss the issue in private
we need to trust the courts: Centre on pending sedition cases
SG Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, tells SC that as far as pending sedition cases are concerned, gravity of each case is not known, maybe there is a terror angle, or money laundering. Ultimately, the pending cases are before judicial forum, and we need to trust the courts
Centre tells Supreme Court that a cognizable offence cannot be prevented from being registered, staying the effect may not be a correct approach and therefore, there has to be a responsible officer for scrutiny, and his satisfaction is subject to judicial review.
Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who has often been at the receiving end of many a barb courtesy the ruling BJP and its leaders found mention on Tuesday during a hearing on pleas challenging the sedition law. A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana was hearing the matter.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal who was representing the petitioners was arguing about the misuse of sedition law when he said, “We are in post-constitution era. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had said that this provision is obnoxious and the sooner we get rid of sedition the better.”
The Supreme Court Tuesday sought the Centre’s response on protecting citizens’ interests by putting at abeyance the lodging of sedition cases till re-examination of the colonial era penal law.
The apex court agreed that the re-look of the provision be left to the Centre which has filed an affidavit in this regard.