India

On Sedition Law, Centre “Needs To Consult”, Supreme Court Gives

The matter will next be heard on Tuesday, May 10, at 2 pm.New Delhi: The Supreme Court today granted the Centre more time to file its response in the challenge to the colonial-era sedition law. The top court said it will examine whether the pleas challenging its constitutional validity should be sent to a constitutional bench…

The matter will next be heard on Tuesday, May 10, at 2 pm.

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court today granted the Centre more time to file its response in the challenge to the colonial-era sedition law. The top court said it will examine whether the pleas challenging its constitutional validity should be sent to a constitutional bench of seven judges. While hearing the matter today, a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana directed the petitioners to file responses by Saturday morning and ordered the Centre to file counter-affidavits by Monday morning. The matter will next be heard on Tuesday, May 10, at 2 pm.

The pleas challenging the sedition law were filed by five parties including the Editors Guild of India and Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra.

The plea by the Editors Guild of India was filed after FIRs were registered against journalists like Rajdeep Sardesai and Mrinal Pande for their tweets about the violence during farmers’ protests on 26 January, 2021.

The plea said such FIRs have a “chilling effect” on the fundamental rights of members of the press. “Sedition law has a legacy of misuse by governments of the day. The petitioners are before this court to protect the freedom of speech and expression of the media to enable the media to carry out its functions without fear of retributive initiation of state power by resort to criminal action triggered by private individuals lodging FIRs, sometimes in a concerted manner, across various states,” it said.

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had urged the court to give “any reasonable time” to draft their reply. He argued that the reply has been drafted at the lawyers’ level but was awaiting approval from the government. He also mentioned that “fresh matters” have been filed in the case and requested more time given the nature of the matter and its repercussions. 

The Attorney General, who was issued a separate notice by the petitioners, said he was ready to argue the matter but Mr Mehta intervened saying he was representing the Centre and the AG’s response might be different as he was appearing in a personal capacity.

The court reminded the Centre that the notice was issued 9-10 months ago. “If everyday people want to file (fresh cases) then we can’t do anything, but we did give notice several months ago,” the court said after the Centre mentioned fresh matters as the reason for the delay. 

Justice Hima Kohli pointed out that the notice was issued several months ago. “It is not like it has come as a surprise. It is a question of law and we are sure you can assist us in the matter,” she said.

“This is about examining legal provisions. We can argue the matter,” the court said.

Appearing for the Editors Guild, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal said it was about the question of law. “Colonial masters do not control us anymore. We own our own destiny,” Mr Sibal said while giving details about earlier judgements on sedition.

“So many people are in jail. Every day spent in jail by a student or journalist because of sedition law is against the very idea of India,” Mr Sibal argued. 

The AG reiterated his earlier stand on the sedition law, arguing that its misuse has been controlled. He said that there need to be some guidelines on “what is permissible and what is impermissible” and what can come under sedition. He also referred to the case regarding the Rana couple in Mumbai, saying they were charged with sedition for reciting the Hanuman Chalisa. 

The AG argued for the law to not be repealed but be more clearly defined. “Law which is fair and valid but is implemented in an unfair and abusive manner will not make the law unconstitutional. It has to be shown what is so abhorrent in sedition law. In my opinion, it should not be sent to a larger bench,” he said.

Waiting for response to load…

(This story has not been created/edited by Unicaus and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

What's your reaction?