New Delhi: The Supreme Court on May 11 stayed the use of the sedition law and directed the Centre and states to not register any fresh FIRs invoking sedition charges until the law is reviewed. In the pending sedition cases, the Supreme Court said those languishing in jail under sedition charges can approach the courts and seek bail.
“We expect that till re-examination of this law is complete it will not be used,” the CJI N V Ramana-led Bench of the Supreme Court said. The court said, “Those already booked under Section 124A IPC and are in jail could approach competent courts for appropriate relief and bail.”
The Supreme Court said, “It is clear that the Centre agrees that the rigors of Section 124A is not in tune with the current situation and it was intended for the time when the country was under colonial law. Thus, the Centre may reconsider it.”
According to the Union Home Ministry data, a total of 326 cases were registered under the sedition law — the highest, 54, in Assam — between 2014 and 2019, in which just six persons were convicted.
Sedition is dealt with by the law under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. This is the first time since its inception that the provision of Section 124A has been suspended. The courts said the sedition law provision would remain suspended indefinitely and till further orders from the court. Also, the Supreme Court said that the Union government is free to issue additional directions to states.
The Supreme Court is hearing petitions challenging the validity of the law on sedition which has been under intense public scrutiny for its alleged misuse to settle political scores by various governments.
In July 2021, the SC had asked the Centre why it was not repealing the colonial-era law that was used by the British to silence Mahatma Gandhi.
The court had emphasized that their main concern is the misuse of the sedition law and the accountability of agencies in using it. “There is a serious threat of misuse,” the Supreme Court noted. (India Today)