Supreme Court unhappy with misuse of British era sedition law
The Apex Court wonders why this archaic law has not been repealed yet
The Supreme Court has expressed its unhappiness over blatant misuse of the archaic sedition law by police to suppress freedom of expression.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana Thursday issued notice to the government. Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy were other members of the bench.
The Court was hearing a plea filed by retired army veteran S.G. Vombatkere challenging the provision contending that it violates freedom of speech and expression and is disproportionate to the object it seeks to achieve.
"Dispute is, it is a colonial law and was used by British to suppress freedoms and used against Mahatma Gandhi Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Is this law still needed after 75 years of independence? Our concern is the misuse of the law and no accountability of the executive," CJI Ramana said Thursday.
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code criminalising sedition is a provision used by the British to quell the voice of Indian freedom fighters.
The Top Court minced no words when it observed that the sedation law has become a tool in the hands of the police to suppress dissenting voices. The Court said that the police, if it wants to fix somebody, uses Section 124A and everybody is scared when this particular section is invoked.
The Court had Wednesday sought assistance of the Attorney General in the matter. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal opined that it might not be necessary to strike down the provision.
"This section need not be struck down and only guidelines be set out so that section meets its legal purpose," AG submitted to the Court.
"The government has repealed a number of laws now. I don't know why you are not looking into this," the Court said while wondering aloud as to why this British-era law has been retained.
"(If) some party doesn't want to hear the voice of other party they may use this type of law and implicate other people. It's a serious question for individuals," the Court remarked.
The bench then proceeded to issue a notice to the Central government which was accepted by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on behalf of the Centre.