Law minister M Veerappa Moily on Friday said the sedition law in the country was outdated and the government would consider reviewing the relevant provisions in the 150 year-old Indian Penal Code.
Shortly after the Supreme Court granted bail to noted social activist Dr Binayak Sen, the law minister also asked the Chhattisgarh government to reflect upon the investigation carried out by the state police.
“In consultation with the home ministry, the Law Commission would be asked to take a fresh look at the sedition law in the country, which appears to be outdated now,” Moily said.
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code provides life imprisonment to those found guilty of sedition, and according to Moily this section which was used to confine freedom fighters to jails, has now lost relevance.
Moily said the apex court order was an eye-opener. “The Chhattisgarh government should have applied its mind objectively and properly without any prejudices. And when the case is in the highest court of the country, it is all the more reasons to be more careful.”
Home ministry officials, however, were not as enthusiastic about a review. “There are Supreme Court judgments that lay down the interpretation and the conditions that need to be fulfilled for invoking this charge,” one of them said.
The home ministry, however, intends to challenge an earlier verdict of the Supreme Court that ruled against treating members of banned groups as criminals till they indulge in violence.
An organisation banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act has a legal remedy to challenge the government’s ban order when it comes up for confirmation before a tribunal headed by a sitting high court judge.
Since there already is application of judicial mind when the ban is confirmed, it does not appear justified that security agencies should wait for known member of a banned terror group to resort to violence.
Sen household rejoices over bail
The house of the Sens in Kalyani, about 50 km from Kolkata, was in a celebratory mood. The son of the house, rights activist Binayak Sen, was granted bail by the Supreme Court on the first day of the Bengali new year.
While Sen’s bail plea was being heard, Sen’s mother the octogenarian Anasuya was glued to the TV set. Minutes after the ruling, her daughter-in-law Ilina Sen telephoned her.
“What more happiness can there be for a mother, other than her son’s return home…,” said Anusuya, who has taken part in demonstrations demanding her son’s release.
“I still do not know whether he (Binayak) has got the news of his bail,” said the rights activist’s brother Dipankar. Ilina, who was in the apex court for the hearing, said she felt relieved after the order.