There is a continuous hearing in the Supreme Court regarding the sedition law. Meanwhile, the court on Tuesday asked the government whether pending sedition cases across the country can be postponed till the government is reviewing the sedition law. The government also has to tell what it will do about the arrests to be made under it in future.
The central government should clear the stand
A bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to take directions from the government and apprise the court about the government’s stand on Wednesday. Yesterday, the Central Government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that it will reconsider the validity of the sedition law, so the court does not need to hear.
On Wednesday, the Center urged to postpone the hearing. As soon as the hearing began today, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged the adjournment of the hearing by citing the affidavit. The SG said that it is clear from the affidavit that the government is ready to reconsider the sedition law, so the Supreme Court should postpone the hearing of the case.
On behalf of the petitioner, Kapil Sibal objected to this saying that the jurisdiction of the court and the Parliament are different, it is the job of the Parliament to make laws and the reviewing of the court, and the court should not postpone the hearing. The court should decide whether this law is right or wrong.
How long will the review take?
The Chief Justice asked the Solicitor General that we have issued a notice in this matter nine months ago. Can you tell me how long will it take for the government to reconsider the sedition law? To this, the Solicitor General replied saying that he cannot give any fixed time frame. The process of review has started, and you try to understand the intention of the affidavit.
During the hearing, the court raised the issue of misuse of this law. The Chief Justice said that seeing the affidavit, it seems that the Prime Minister himself is aware of different opinions about the sedition law and civil liberties. He says that diversity is the strength of India. Referring to the nectar festival of freedom in the affidavit, it has been said to reduce the burden of the laws of the British era. But there are concerns about the misuse of this law. Attorney General KK Venugopal himself has said that even after reading Hanuman Chalisa, there is a section of sedition nowadays.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that FIRs in these cases have been filed by the states. The first purpose of the sedition law is to protect the integrity, and sovereignty of the country. Tomorrow one can say that such a part is not a part of the country. If the law is misused, then the courts solve it, there is a court for this.
Should sedition cases be postponed?
On this, the Supreme Court asked whether sedition cases can be kept on hold during the review of the sedition law. Justice Surya Kant said that the government may take 3 months or 4 months to review the sedition law. But the question is whether during this time the central government can direct all the states to postpone pending sedition cases.
On this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the sedition law should not be used yet, it would not be right to impose such restrictions. This has never happened in the legal history of the country. On this, Justice Hima Kohli asked whether the central government cannot indicate to the states that since they are reconsidering the validity of the sedition law, the state government should not take action under this law in the meantime.
Justice Surya Kant said that even if some serious matter comes to the fore, then there are other laws to deal with it. It is not that the police will be helpless due to the non-use of sedition law. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that he can tell something only after taking instructions from the government in this regard.
Kapil Sibal said that the sedition law has nothing to do with the sovereignty and integrity of the country. There is already a provision for this under Article 19(2). The sedition law predates the coming into force of the Constitution. Then the government meant the country. But now it is not so. Until the court reaches a conclusion on this matter, an arrest under this law should be stopped.