Sedition case hearing: government to respond within a day

Law National

The Chief Justice said that it is concerned about pending and future cases till the government re-examines the sedition law.\

The Supreme Court of India (SC)has given the government time till Wednesday morning, to file its response with the court on whether the sedition law can be paused while it is being reviewed.

The Chief Justice of India, Justice NV Ramana told the Solicitor General of India, “We will give you time till tommorow morning to take instructions from government. Our concern is pending cases and future cases. How will the government take care of these till it re-examines the law.”

The order was passed since the Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta, said that the government will reconsider the sedition law.

The Solicitor General of India confirmed during the hearing, “Yes we will [consider] since issues like integrity of nation are at stake.”

The bench comprising of Chief Justice of India, Justice Hima Kohli, and Justice Surya Kant posed some tough questions to the government around misuse of sedition law and its applicability till the time the government re-examines the law.

The Central Government, on Monday, told the Apex court through an affidavitthat to respect Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s views, the centre will reconsider section 124A of the IPC—which criminalizes sedition—through legislative means.

The affidavit mentioned –

“The SC may not invest time in examining the validity of Section 124A again (its validity was upheld by a Constitution bench in the Kedar Nath Singh vs. State of Bihar case in 1962) and be pleased to await the exercise of reconsideration to be undertaken by the Union government before a forum where such reconsideration is constitutionally permitted.”

The apex court however, was of the opinion that the government cannot be given an indefinite timeline to reconsider the law, as arrests were being made on a daily basis, and several people were already in the jail under the law.

The CJI said, “State says they are re-examining. But we cannot be unreasonable. We will have to decide how much time to be given.”

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioners argued, “It is for legislature to decide whether it’s constitutional or not. But the process may take six to eight months. They are entitled to frame laws. But that cannot await the judiciary’s process. The Lordship should not wait for them.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the petitioners filed a written submission asking the Supreme Court to stay the operation of Section 124A, if the matter was referred to a bench of larger strength.

The sedition law establishes punishment with imprisonment up to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine to anyone who is found guilty of any or words – spoken or written – act that might bring hatred towards the government of India.