Updated: February 10, 2021 1:36:42 am
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a plea urging it to reexamine the constitutional validity of Section 124A of IPC, which deals with sedition.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde rejected the plea by a group of lawyers, pointing out that the SC had in the past laid down that there should be appropriate cause of action (materials to sue) to challenge a law and the petition lacked this.
The court said the petitioners were not affected parties in any case. “You are not facing any prosecution under this section. What is the cause of action? We don’t have a case before us of persons rotting in jail. You come before us in a concrete case,” the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Anoop George Chaudhary submitted that the plea was filed in public interest.
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The plea by advocates Aditya Ranjan, Varun Thakur and V Elanchezhiyan contended that the provision, which was used by the British against Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak is still being “grossly abused” to stifle freedom of speech and expression of those who express dissent against government policies. “It is submitted that under the continuously expanding scope of the fundamental rights, a colonial provision like Section 124-A which was intended to subjugate the subjects of British crown should not be permitted to continue in a democratic republic,” it said.
The petitioners pointed out that in 1962, an SC constitution bench upheld validity of the section by reading it down, but after after six decades, the judgment “requires reconsideration, especially in the light of spate of sedition charges imposed against various persons speaking out against the governments of the day and their policies”.
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