Updated: May 1, 2021 4:02:29 am
The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 124-A of the IPC that penalises sedition.
A bench of Justices U U Lalit, Indira Banerjee and K M Joseph sought the Centre’s response on a plea by two journalists—Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha from Manipur and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla from Chhattisgarh.
The petitioners said they were charged with sedition for questioning the state governments and the Centre, and for comments and cartoons shared on social media platforms. They contended that the provision infringes upon the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
Alleging frequent misuse and misapplication of the law since 1962, they said that its “abuse” points to its vagueness and uncertainty, which, in turn, exerts a “chilling effect” on the democratic freedoms of individuals.
The plea said that sections of sedition have been repealed in comparative post-colonial democratic jurisdictions around the world where the offence has been condemned as undemocratic, undesirable and unnecessary.
Referring to the Supreme Court decision upholding its validity in the 1962 case of Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar, the duo said that while the court may have been correct in its finding nearly sixty decades ago, the law no longer passes constitutional muster today.
In February, the top court had rejected a plea urging it to re-examine the constitutional validity of the sedition law.
A bench headed by the then Chief Justice S A Bobde rejected the plea by a group of lawyers pointing out that the Supreme Court had in the past laid down that there should be an appropriate cause of action (materials to sue) to challenge a law, which the petition lacked.
The court said the petitioners were not the affected parties in any case.
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