NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday put three posers to the Centre while agreeing to its request to defer the hearing on the Sedition law under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) till it reconsiders the provision.
Its posers are: Will it complete reconsideration of the British era law in three-four months? Will the law be kept in abeyance until the reconsideration? And, will all old cases under Section 124A be kept on hold until the reconsideration.
The Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana, fixed another hearing on Wednesday to elicit the response of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on the posers, after he sought one day’s time to take instructions from the government.
All the three judges on the Bench wanted the Centre's specific stand on the status of pending and future cases till the government takes a decision, but Mehta tried to wriggle out claiming the arrests under the sedition law are mostly by the state governments.
The senior lawyers appearing for the petitioners objected to giving a long rope to the government, when the CJI asked the Centre to give an estimate of how long this exercise of reconsideration of the law would take.
A special bench comprising CJI Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli was discussing whether a reference to a larger bench is required.
The Bench is hearing a batch of petitions filed by the Editors Guild of India, former union minister Arun Shourie, retired major general SG Vombatkere, Trinamul Congress MP Mahua Moitra, PUCL, the Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin, Journalist Patricia Mukhim and the Journalists Union of Assam.
Kapil Sibal contested the solicitor general's claim that Section 124A mentions sovereignty and integrity of India, asserting that the provision does not mention these words as they are included in Article 19(2). He also urged that no arrests should take place under Section 124A till this reconsideration is over.