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Supreme Court puts sedition law on hold, asks govts not to register cases

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SC to hear pleas challenging validity of the sedition provisions in July

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sedition law | government of India | Supreme Court

Supreme Court on Wednesday put the sedition law on hold, and urged the Central and state governments to refrain from registering any FIRs invoking Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said that governments should not use the sedition provision till the review of the sedition provision by the Centre is complete,

The apex court has allowed the Central government to re-examine and reconsider the provisions of Section 124A of the IPC which criminalises the offence of sedition.

“It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further reexamination is over. We hope and expect Central government and states will refrain from registering any FIR, continuing investigation, or taking coercive steps under 124A IPC when it is being reconsidered by the Centre,” the Supreme Court ordered.

If sedition cases are registered, the parties are at liberty to approach court and the court has to expeditiously dispose of the same, the SC said.

The Supreme Court will hear pleas challenging the validity of the sedition provisions in the month of July.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted that the government proposes that a police officer of the level of SP or above should decide, for now, on whether a sedition charge should be filed in future FIRs. He added that as the government reviews the sedition law, pending sedition cases can be reviewed, and the courts can decide on the bail application of those under Section 124A IPC, expeditiously.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing one of the petitioners, contended that Section 124A has become prima facie unconstitutional and the apex court must stay application of the sedition provision, till the Centre reviews the provision.

Mehta submitted that as far as pending cases are concerned, gravity of each case is not known, maybe there is a terror angle, and also the pending cases are before judicial forum. “We need to trust the courts,” he added.

Justice Kant told Sibal, “What is this argument…Can it be struck down today?” The bench added that it is looking for an answer who can be an impartial authority, in the view of Centre’s proposal, and asked Sibal what an arrangement in the interregnum can be done.

The move came after the Centre, in a fresh affidavit on Monday, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is of the firm view that the baggage of colonial-era laws, which outlived their utility, must be scrapped during the period of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ (75 years of independence).

In that spirit, the government of India has scrapped over 1,500 outdated laws since 2014-15, it said.

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