In the recent order, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has ordered to keep all pending trials, appeals, and proceedings framed under sedition law on hold. It is expected from the State and Central governments to restrain from registering any FIR, continuing any investigation, or taking any coercive measures by invoking provision under section 124A, IPC while it is under review process.
It was strongly averred that if any fresh case is registered u/s 124A, IPC, the affected party would be at liberty to approach the concerned Courts for appropriate relief, and the same shall be provided taking account of the order passed by the Apex Court as well as the clear stand that would be taken by Union of India.
The present case, S.G. Vombatkere v Union of India, was filed challenging the constitutionality of Sedition 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
In the counter-affidavit filed by UOI, it was stated that the country requires statutory provision to deal with serious offenses which might threaten the sovereignty and integrity or destabilize the government established by law. The main concern raised by the Solicitor General was about the application and abuse of the provision given u/s 124A.
It was argued before the Court that various laws dating back to colonial times and pre-dating the constitution which caused mindless hindrance to people have been decriminalized. The Government of India has diligently worked to shed the colonial baggage by scrapping over 1500 outdated laws and has cognizance of the view expressed on the subject of sedition.
SG expressed views considering the concern for civil liberty and human rights while committed to maintaining and protecting the sovereignty that laws relating to sedition should be re-examined and re-consider before a competent forum.
The Union of India acknowledged with the prima facie perspective expressed by the Court that the rigors of Section 124A of IPC is not in tune with the current social milieu and was intended for a time when this country was under the colonial regime. The Court expressed the need to balance between securing the interests and integrity of the state on one hand and the civil liberties of the citizen on the other.
The Attorney General, in early hearings, had given instances of glaring misuse of this provision of law.
The Bench comprising V Ramana, CJ, Surya Kant, and Hima Kohli, JJ affirmed the discontinuation of the provision of sedition till the re-examination by the Government of India. All the pending trials, appeals, and proceedings in respect of law be kept in abeyance. The Court held that directions shall continue till further orders were passed.