SC puts sedition law on hold till review complete, says no new case to be filed for now

SC puts sedition law on hold till review complete, says no new case to be filed for now

Tushar Mehta on Tuesday had told the Supreme Court that the Centre was in the process of reconsidering the sedition law.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, May 11, stayed the use of the sedition law and forbade the filing of FIRs under it until it is reviewed. "We expect that till re-examination of this law is complete it will not be used," the CJI NV Ramana-led Bench of the SC said.

On the pending sedition cases, the SC said: "Those already booked under Section 124A IPC and are in jail could approach competent courts for appropriate relief and bail." Sedition is dealt with by the law under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier in the day, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court, which is hearing the sedition law case, that the Centre has prepared a draft for the reconsideration of the law. The draft states that an FIR will be registered with sedition charges only if a police officer of the rank of SP says there is a valid reason for the same.

Tushar Mehta on Tuesday had told the Supreme Court that the Centre was in the process of reconsidering the sedition law.

Mehta argued: “Where there is a cognizable offence, the Constitutional court staying the [probe] order is not appropriate. Let scrutiny be done by a responsible senior officer under judicial authority.”

Speaking about the pending cases concerning the invocation of sedition law, he said: “This is a cognizable offence. We don't know the gravity of each pending offence. There could be terrorism, money laundering or any other offence.”

“The cases are pending with the judicial officer and not the police. What this court can consider doing is that when a bail application is filed, the court can expedite the process. But to stay the provision will not be appropriate,” Mehta said.

Responding to Kapil Sibal, who was appearing on behalf of the petitioner, to seek the court's directions on pending cases, Mehta said that the court passing an interim order on a cognizable offence at the behest of third parties in a PIL will set a bad precedent.

CJI Ramana said: "The prima facie opinion of this court that Section 124 was imposed when India was under colonial rule. The Centre said it would reconsider the law and protect civil rights of the citizens of India. There is a misuse of the law. The AG had also given instances of such misuse."

"The state and central governments should refrain from filing any FIR and conducting any proceedings under Section 124A," he said.

Staying the invocation of sedition charges till the law is re-examined, the SC posted the matter for hearing in the third week of July.

SC puts sedition law on hold till review complete, says no new case to be filed for now
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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.

“This was the law used by the Britishers to silence Mahatma Gandhi. Do you think this law is still necessary?” Chief Justice of India N V Ramana has asked.

The court had emphasised 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.

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