oppn parties Sedition Law Put On Hold Till Government Re-Examination

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oppn parties
Sedition Law Put On Hold Till Government Re-Examination

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2022-05-11 14:47:34

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator.

The government thought it was being smart when, after the Supreme Court toughened its stand on its delaying tactics in the sedition case and gave it three days to come up with its final response after which it said that it would pass orders in the case, it made a U-turn and told the court that it was ready to get Section 124A re-examined by an appropriate authority as mandated by the Constitution to insert safeguards to prevent its misuse. It thought it would then get ample time to put forward something concrete before the court to let the section stay in the statute books as the court was unwilling to issue further guidelines to prevent its misuse. But the Supreme Court was smarter. In a historic order, the court, after allowing the government’s plea of re-examination by appropriate authority, put the section on hold till such examination and the response of the government. It has passed orders disallowing fresh FIRs to be filed under Section 124A and all pending cases filed under the section will be on hold. Those already incarcerated for alleged crimes under the section can now approach courts for bail afresh.

The government had argued that the law should not be paused till the re-examination process was over. It said that a police officer of the rank of Superintendent or above would decide if sedition charges could be pressed against anyone in any matter. But the court was not impressed with this argument. CJI N V Ramana said that "it is clear that Centre agrees that the rigours of (sedition) are not in tune with the current situation. It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further re-examination is over. We hope and expect that centre and state will desist from registering any FIR under 124A (sedition law) or initiate proceeding under the same till re-examination is over." The court also said that the Centre can issue directives to the states to prevent the misuse of the law till the re-examination is over.

In a strong reaction against the order, Union Law minister Kiren Rijiju talked about separation of powers, respect for each other and not crossing the Lakshman Rekha to give the indication that the government thought the order smacked of judicial overreach. But what did the government expect when it was not allowing the court to decide the issue by seeking 'tarikh pe tarikh'? There is a limit to everything and the court was quick to see through new trick of getting the section re-examined as another delaying tactic. The present restrictive order is clear in showing which way the wind is blowing. If the government does not come up with a proper and satisfactory response after the re-examination - that is, if it is not able to convince the court that the safeguards it might propose will prevent the misuse of the section - the Supreme Court is likely to declare the section unconstitutional.