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Sedition law paused by Supreme Court till Centre finishes re-examination

Supreme Court said that those already facing sedition charges can approach courts for bail.

Gonika Arora Reported by: Gonika Arora @AroraGonika New Delhi Updated on: May 11, 2022 12:43 IST
Supreme Court
Image Source : PTI

Supreme Court

Highlights

  • SC asked Centre, states to refrain from registering any FIR invoking sedition charges
  • The top court's order would impact hundreds charged under the colonial-era rule
  • At today's hearing, the govt, however, argued that it was not in favour of pausing the law

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Central government to re-examine and reconsider the provisions of Section 124A of the IPC which criminalises the offence of sedition. The court also said that till the exercise of re-examination is complete, all pending cases, appeals and proceedings with respect to charges framed under Section124 A be kept in abeyance. 

A special bench comprising the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli held that adjudication with respect to other sections may proceed with no prejudice being caused to the accused.

The top court also asked the Centre, states to refrain from registering any FIR invoking sedition charges.

"We hope and expect Centre and state governments will refrain from registering any FIR, continuing investigation, or taking coercive steps under Section 124A IPC when it is under reconsideration. It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further reexamination is over," the court said while hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the offence of sedition under Section 124A. 

Centre's stand

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, however, said that the registration of FIRs for the offence of sedition cannot be prevented as the provision dealt with a cognisable offence and was upheld by a Constitution bench in 1962. He said that a superintendent of police rank officer can be made responsible for monitoring the registration of FIRs for the offence of sedition.

With regard to pending sedition cases, the Centre suggested that hearing on bail pleas in such matters may be expedited as the government did not know the gravity of the offence in each case and they may have terror or money laundering angles.

"Ultimately, pending cases are before the judicial forum and we need to trust courts," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the court had asked the Centre to make its stand clear within 24 hours on keeping the pending sedition cases in abeyance to protect the interests of citizens already booked and not registering fresh cases till the government's re-examination of the colonial-era penal law is over. 

 

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