Gavel Law Insider

Bhuvana Marni

Published on: November 1, 2022 at 22:24 IST

On Monday, the Supreme Court adjourned until January 2023 a group of petitions challenging Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which makes sedition a crime. A bench consisting of CJI UU Lalit, Justice Ravindra Bhat, and Justice Bela M Trivedi heard the case.

According to R. Venkataramani, the Attorney General of India, the Centre is now evaluating criminal laws.

“Something may happen in the next parliament session”, he said.

He thus requested that additional time be given to the centre to perform the necessary actions.

The CJI wanted to know if the Center had issued a direction to abeyance all ongoing legal actions and prevent filing any fresh cases under Section 124A to stop its application. In his affirmative response, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that all Chief Secretaries had received directions on the subject.

CJI UU Lalit narrated the order, which reads as follows–

“Learned AG submits that in terms of the directions issued by this court in its order dated 11th May 2022 the matter is still engaging the attention of the relevant authorities. He submits that additional time is granted so that appropriate steps be taken by the government.”

“He assures the court that in view of the interim directions issued by the court, every interest and concern stands protected and there would be no prejudice caused. At his request, we adjourn this to the second week of January 2023.”

“It has also been brought to our notice that in some matters notice has not been issued. Let notice be issued in such matters. Counsel for Union of India, Mr. AK Sharma to file an appropriate affidavit within 6 weeks”.

Major-General SG Vombatkere (Retired), an Army veteran, and the Editors Guild of India, along with former Union Minister Arun Shourie, TMC MP Mahua Moitra, journalist Anil Chamadia, PUCL, journalists Patricia Mukhim and Anuradha Bhasin, and the Journalist Union of Assam, filed several writ petitions that the bench was considering.

A court led by the then-Chief Justice of India, NV Raman, issued a series of directions on May 11, 2022, which essentially suspended the sedition law.

The Court requested the Center and the State governments to forgo and refrain from registering any FIRs under the aforementioned provision while it was being re-considered.

“We hope and expect Centre and State Governments will refrain from registering any FIR, continuing investigation, or taking coercive steps under Section 124 A IPC when it is under reconsideration. It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further re-examination is over”, the order stated.

The bench further ordered that any pending trials, appeals, and other actions related to charges brought under Section 124A be kept in abeyance.

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