Sedition law: 5 key points from Supreme Court's big decision on Section 124A
“It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further re-examination (by the Centre) is over,” the Supreme Court said.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday put on hold the 152-year-old sedition law and told the government no new cases could be lodged under the British-era legislation till its provisions had been fully re-examined. A bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana said it would not be appropriate for the law to be invoked amid a constitutional challenge and that those booked under Section 124A could approach courts for relief. "We hope and expect that Centre and states will restrain from registering fresh FIRs under Section 124A…" the order said.
Here are 5 big points from the Supreme Court's sedition law hearing:
> A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said 'it would be appropriate to put the provision in abeyance' until the government reviews the sedition law. "It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further re-examination (by the Centre) is over. We hope and expect the Centre and states will desist from registering any FIR under Section 124A or initiate proceedings under the same till the re-examination is over," the bench said.
> Those jailed under the penal provision, or those being prosecuted, can approach the trial courts which will adjudicate their grievances expeditiously, the top court added. Sedition is a non-bailable offence punishable with a jail term ranging from three years to life, with or without a fine.
> The court rejected the government's request not to stay the operation of the sedition law, holding that it must balance civil liberty and sovereignty of the State in the wake of several instances of abuse of Section 124A. The court further said the government was at liberty to issue additional guidelines on checking instances of misuse of the sedition law.
> Earlier today, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued Section 124A should not be put in abeyance considering a Constitution bench upheld its validity in the 1962 Kedar Nath judgment. "Once there is a cognisable offence… staying the effect may not be a correct approach," he argued. He proposed an advisory that no new case could be lodged without written approval from a senior police officer and that this could be subject to judicial review.
> Representing petitioners who have challenged the validity of the sedition law, senior counsel Kapil Sibal countered: "This is wholly unacceptable. Government made the same argument when validity of Section 66A in the Information Technology Act was being made. The court said giving power to a SP would mean nothing and that it would decide the validity of the law as it stands today. The court said that if the law is unconstitutional, it is unconstitutional."