In U-turn, govt tells SC it will re-examine sedition law

Wednesday 11th May 2022 08:06 EDT

The Central government told the Supreme Court that in deference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s views, the government will go for a comprehensive reconsideration of the sedition provision, Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, for necessary pruning and provisioning of safeguards to curb its misuse and requested the court to defer scrutiny of the sedition provision.

Indicating that such an exercise would possibly be carried out through the legislative route in Parliament, the Centre said, “The SC may not invest time in examining the validity of Section 124A once 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 an appropriate forum where such reconsideration is constitutionally permitted. ”

The Centre’s affidavit came two days after it had defended the sedition law and urged the court to dismiss pleas challenging it. The affidavit, filed a day before the three-judge bench headed by CJI N V Ramana is scheduled to hear the case, urged the SC to indefinitely defer adjudication of the colonial era law enacted in 1860.
The ministry of home affairs said the PM has been aware of the divergent views expressed in public by various jurists, academicians, intellectuals and citizens in general, who agree on the need of the law to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country and foil attempts by some to destabilise the government through illegal means. “However, concerns are raised about its application and abuse for the purpose not intended by law,” it said.
“The PM has been cognizant of various views expressed on the subject and has also periodically, in various forums, expressed his clear and unequivocal views in favour of protection of civil liberties, respect for human rights and giving meaning to the constitutionally cherished freedoms by the people of the country. He has repeatedly said that one of India’s strengths is the diverse thought streams that beautifully flourish in our country,” it said.
“The PM believes that at a time when our nation is marking ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (75 years of Independence), we need to, as a nation, work even harder to shed colonial baggage that has passed its utility, which includes outdated colonial laws and practices,” it added.
Referring to repeal of many obsolete and colonial era laws, the Centre said, “Various offences which were causing mindless hindrances to people have been decriminalised. This is an ongoing process. These were laws which reeked of a colonial mindset and thus have no place in today’s India.”

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