The government in its affidavit informed the Supreme Court that it has decided to re-examine and reconsider the law on sedition and urged the court to defer hearing the case on sedition law’s validity.
The Supreme Court on May 10 asked the government to make its position clear about how it intends to protect the people facing sedition charges under existing law. The court has granted time till Wednesday to the government to take instructions on the issue.
The court has asked the government whether the use of existing sedition law will be kept in abeyance till the government’s reconsideration process.
After the government urged the court to defer the hearing on the case, the petitioners led by Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal took objection to the government’s plea. Sibal argued that the court must proceed with its hearing regardless of the law’s reconsideration before another jurisdiction, which in the case is the legislature.
On being asked by the court about the tentative timeline within which the reconsideration will be done, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that while the accurate timeline cannot be ascertained right now, the process has begun. Mehta urged the court to take note of the tenor and intent behind the affidavit.
Sibal highlighted however that even if the executive was to reconsider the law, there remain several pending prosecutions under the existing law while many new arrests too are being made where Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code is being slapped. The pattern of arrests continues, Senior Counsel CU Singh also added in support of Sibal’s argument.
“We will take into consideration that the government has taken cognizance of the issue and reconsidering the law,” CJI NV Ramana observed. “But there are many concerns including pending cases,” the CJI said asking Mehta about the government’s proposition to protect such individual matters.
“When the government itself has expressed concern about misuse, and liberties, then how will you (government) protect these people,” the bench asked. “We also have to balance the issue of pending cases of people who are in prisons. Please make your stand clear on this,” the court urged the government counsel.