The Supreme Court on Wednesday said in a historic order that the 162-year-old sedition law under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code should be kept in abeyance until the central government reconsiders this provision.

In an interim order, the court asked the central and state governments to refrain from registering any FIR under this provision until it is reconsidered. A bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli said that all pending cases, appeals and proceedings in respect of the allegations made under Section 124A be stayed.

‘Court can come for bail’

“We expect the Central and State Governments to refrain from registering any FIR, continuing the investigation or taking coercive steps under section 124A of the IPC,” the bench said in the order. The court said that those who are already booked under Section 124A of the IPC and are in jail can approach the respective courts for bail.

The court also ordered that if a fresh case is registered, the party concerned can approach the court for relief and the courts are requested to take note of the order passed by the court and seek relief. Please check.

The court had agreed to the suggestion of the Center

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had agreed to the Centre’s suggestion to defer the hearing of the petitions till it reconsiders the provision. The court had also suggested that the Center issue a direction to the states not to register sedition cases till the review of Section 124A is completed and sought their response on the same.

However, when the matter was taken up today, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta informed the court that a proposed draft direction has been prepared by the Center to issue, noting that a cognizable offense has to be registered. cannot be stopped.

Solicitor General’s arguments on the matter

He said that once a cognizable offense is committed, it would not be appropriate on the part of the Center or the Court to withhold the effect of the provision. Therefore, the draft suggests selecting a responsible officer for investigation, and his satisfaction is subject to judicial review. With regard to pending cases, the Solicitor General said that he was not sure about the gravity of each case. He said some of these pending cases may involve a ‘terrorist’ angle or money laundering. He stressed that the pending cases are before the judicial forum and we need to trust the courts.

“What can Your Lordship consider, if Section 124A is a stage of the bail application attached to the IPC, then the bail applications can be decided expeditiously,” he said. The SG argued that passing any other order to stay the provisions made by the Constitutional Bench in any other case may not be the right approach.

He also said that no individual accused was before the court under the impugned section in this case. It was argued that the consideration of this PIL may set a dangerous precedent for this reason. The SG further reminded the Court on this point, the discussion is not whether this law is wrong but whether Section 124A is still constitutional due to the change in law. He said that if it is found unconstitutional then it can be banned.

Sibal objected

However, senior advocate Kapil Sibal objected to the proposal and said it was completely unacceptable. Justice Kant pointed out that according to the Centre, the investigation of the pre-registration FIR has to be taken up with the Superintendent of Police and asked whom the petitioners preferred as the impartial authority to investigate the registration of the FIR. To this Sibal replied that the FIR should not go to anyone and it should be stayed during the interim period in the first instance itself.

He said that he did not approach this court to stay the operation of Section 124A and it came only after being signaled by the Centre. Justice Kant said that the matter developed later and the court was trying to find a viable solution to the cases registered under the impugned section only during the interval. On this occasion, the SG said, “We cannot underestimate the respect of the judiciary.” After a private discussion, the court asked the parties how many petitioners were presently in jail.

Senior advocate CU Singh replied that in one case the petitioner was protected by this court citing journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem. .

Meanwhile, senior advocate Sibal said that at present, 13,000 people are in jail under this provision. The SG said that the petition filed by Kishorechandra Wangkhem does not seek to quash the FIR but to declare Section 124A as unconstitutional. The CJI then said that the Bench had held detailed discussions and it was found that the Union of India agrees with the prima facie opinion expressed by the Court that the rigor of Section 124A is not in accordance with the present social environment.

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