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Supreme Court will review the validity of the law on sedition | India News


NEW DELHI: Six decades after maintaining the constitutional validity of Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes sedition, the Supreme Court has agreed to examine whether it is necessary to re-examine the verdict and whether the criminal provision has lost its relevance under these conditions.
A bank of Judges UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee Y KM Joseph admitted an argument filed by two journalists, who challenged the validity of the criminal provision that prescribes the penalty of up to life imprisonment for sedition. The journalists, who are facing charges of sedition for allegedly speaking out against political leaders and spending months in jail, alleged that the law outlived its usefulness and that people in power were misusing it against those who criticize them.

Lead Counsel Colin Gonsalves and Counsel Tanima Kishore, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner, argued that many countries, including England, which had introduced sedition law in India, have removed the criminal provision related to the offense and have alleged the Court reexamine the law in the current context. They argued that the validity of Section 124A was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1962, since the need of the moment was to prevent public violence and public disorder from waging war against the state.
“Section 124-A was, at the time, a necessary tool in crime control. It is conceivable that if the sedition had been declared unconstitutional in 1962, there might have been a loophole in the law, the shenanigans – public disorder and violence – went unpunished. On the contrary, in 2021, this is not the case. The last almost 60 years have seen the widespread enactment of new laws that directly address security, public disorder, and terrorism. These include the Law on (Prevention) of Illegal Activities, the Law on Public Security and the Law on National Security. Various sections of these laws deal directly with overt conduct that sedition seeks to penalize, inciting violence and public disorder, ”the petition says.
While maintaining the validity of Section 124A, a constitutional court of the supreme court in the case Kedar Nath Singh v. The State of Bihar read the section and held that acts involving the intention or tendency to create disorder, disorderly conduct or incitement to violence would be penalized by Section 124-A.
Referring to the misuse of Section 124A, the petitioning journalists, Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha, 41, from Manipur, and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla, 53, from Chhattisgarh, alleged that the number of registered sedition cases across the country doubled from 35 in 2016 to 75 in 2018, but indictments were not filed in more than 70% of the cases, and only four of the 43 cases in which the trial had been completed resulted in a conviction.
“Many cases have recently made headlines in this regard. In examples of authorities employing the uncertain ‘intent’ or ‘bias’ elements of sedition, people have been arrested and charged simply for possessing Maoist literature, simply for interviewing individuals deemed threats, publicly criticizing the government, and denouncing atrocities. of the army, ”they said. contended.
The court, after a brief hearing, agreed to examine the statement and issued a notice to the Center looking for your answer. “This writ petition prays for an appropriate car, order or address declaring that Section 124-A of the IPc is unconstitutional and void. Colin Gonsalves, lead counsel who appeared on behalf of the petitioners, maintains, among other things, that the decision rendered by the constitutional court of this court in Kedar Nath Singh v. The state of Bihar may require reconsideration. Issue notice ”, said the bank in its order.
The petitioners said that the section clearly violates the fundamental right to freedom of expression and the restriction imposed by the section is unreasonable. They said Section 124-A no longer conforms to the Constitution. They alleged that the vagueness of Article 124-A has an “unacceptable paralyzing effect on the democratic freedoms of people who cannot enjoy their legitimate rights and democratic freedoms for fear of life imprisonment and that they were also frequently abused and misapplied. “. They said that many democratic countries, including the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda, have viewed the sedition law as undemocratic, undesirable and unnecessary.
“Section 124-A is unnecessary to protect the interests of state security and public disorder, and is duplicated by the most recent legislation, which directly and sufficiently prevents and addresses the harms of public disorder and public violence. There is no urgency that justifies the use of Article 124-A, since the interests of State security and public order are sufficiently protected by other laws, ”the petition says.

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