SC tells Centre, AG to file response to plea challenging sedition law in 2 weeks

THE Supreme Court Monday adjourned a hearing to July 27 in a petition that has challenged the validity of sedition law (Section 124A) of the Indian Penal Code(IPC).

Appearing for the Central Government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, sought two weeks’ time to file a response to the petition.

A bench of Justices UU Lalit and Ajay Rastogi granted the time and fixed the matter for consideration on July 27.

Several interventions filed in the matter would also be listed on the next date of hearing.

On April 30, the top court agreed to examine the validity of the sedition law and issued notice to the Central Government as well as the Attorney General for India. The notice came to be issued on a petition filed by journalists Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha from Manipur and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla from Chhattisgarh challenging the validity of sedition law as violative of freedom of speech and expression (Article 19). The two journalists are facing sedition charges in their respective states for comments made by them on social media.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, for the petitioners, had argued that the decision of a five-judge bench in Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar(1962) would require reconsideration.

In the Kedarnath case, the top court had upheld the validity of the sedition law although it had narrowed down its scope and held “comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of actions of the Government, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence” was not sedition.

In 2016, the Supreme court reminded the authorities to be guided by the principles laid down in the Kedarnath case while dealing with sedition cases. Despite that, governments have been using the law to curb dissent.

Also Read: Lawmakers Must Examine: Does Free India Need a Sedition Law?