Sedition law under Supreme Court lens


By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Amid rising instances of state governments slapping charges of sedition against dissenting individuals, the Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre on a plea challenging the Constitutional validity of the law. 

A bench of justices U U Lalit, Indira Banerjee and K M Joseph was hearing a plea challenging section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which penalises sedition. The plea, filed by journalists Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla working in Manipur and Chhattisgarh, respectively has urged the top court to declare Section 124-A as unconstitutional. 

The SC will give a detailed hearing in July. This comes months after a similar plea was dismissed by the court. The petition claimed that section 124-A infringes the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. FIRs were registered against them under Section 124A for comments and cartoons shared by them on Facebook.

There is frequent misuse, misapplication and abuse of Section 124-A since 1962, the petition said, adding that the abuse of a law, in itself, may not bear on the validity of the law but clearly points to the vagueness and uncertainty of the current law.

The petition also argued that the vagueness of Section 124-A exerts an unacceptable chilling effect on the democratic freedoms of individuals who cannot enjoy their legitimate democratic rights and freedoms for fear of life imprisonment.

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