Sedition law: Supreme Court urges Centre and States to refrain from registering FIRs invoking Section 124A

"Also to be noted, no accused is before the Court. To entertain in a PIL may be a dangerous precedent," Additional Solicitor Genral of India Tushar Mehta added

FPJ Web Desk | Updated on: Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 11:50 AM IST

Supreme Court of India | PTI
Supreme Court of India | PTI

On Wednesday, the Government of India (GoI), represented by Tushar Mehta, Additional Solicitor Genral of India, made the case that staying provisions of sedition, upheld by the Constitution, may not be the “correct approach”.

The Supreme Court also urged the Centre and the States to refrain from registering any FIRs invoking Section 124A IPC. However, the Supreme Court has no ability to actually enforce this writ.

Mehta, appearing for Centre, told the court that as far as pending sedition cases are concerned, the gravity of each case is unknown, whether it be a terror angle, or money laundering. Ultimately, the pending cases are before judicial forum, and drove home that citizens need to trust the courts.

"Also to be noted, no accused is before the Court. To entertain in a PIL may be a dangerous precedent," Mehta added, making clear the executive banch's stand on the issue - avoiding setting a "dangerous precedent".

In regards to pending sedition cases, the Centre suggested to the SC that hearing on bail pleas may be expedited.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court sought the Centre's stand 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.

The top court asked the Centre to file a response on Wednesday.

Asking the Centre to take a clear stand after it posed the two specific queries, the top court agreed that a re-look of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code be left to the government, a day after it had filed an affidavit deciding to reconsider the contentious provision.

The court expressed concern over the continuous abuse of the provision and even suggested that guidelines may be issued to stop the abuse or a decision to keep the sedition law in abeyance till the review exercise is completed.

The Centre's affidavit had said it has decided to "re-examine and re-consider" the sedition law by an "appropriate forum", in a change of stance just two days after stoutly defending this law, and also urged the Supreme Court not to "invest time" in examining its validity once again.

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Published on: Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 11:50 AM IST