Indian top court puts sedition law on hold till review is complete

New Delhi, May 11 (KMS): Indian Supreme Court on Wednesday put on hold the colonial-era penal provision of sedition and asked the central and state governments to refrain from registering any FIRs under the sedition provision, Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, till review of the law by the Modi government is complete.

On Tuesday, the top court had sought the central government’s response on putting the law in abeyance in the interest of the people, till it completes the re-examination of the law.

In an interim order, a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana said it would be appropriate to put the provision — which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment — in abeyance until the Centre reviews it. The top court declined to entertain the Centre’s request not to stay the operation of the provision. And, also pointed at needing to balance civil liberty and sovereignty of the state, in view of several instances where the law was misused.

The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, said: “It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further re-examination is over. We hope and expect the Centre and states will desist from registering any FIR under Section 124A or initiate proceedings, till the re-examination is over”. The top court said the Centre is free to issue additional directions to the state governments and scheduled the hearing of pleas challenging the validity of the sedition law in the third week of July.

The bench said those jailed under the law or facing prosecution can approach the courts for relief. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, had earlier contended that Section 124A should not be put in abeyance, since the constitution bench upheld its validity in 1962 in the Kedar Nath judgment.

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