Ground Report | New Delhi: Sedition law is being misused; The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the Center on the usefulness of having a sedition law even after 75 years of independence. The court also expressed concern over the misuse of the sedition law by the police against those who spoke against the government.
A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said: “It is a colonial law which was used by the British to silence Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak. Still, it is necessary even after 75 years of independence? Chief Justice told Attorney General KK Venugopal, ‘I am giving an indication of what I am thinking.
Sedition law is being misused
The bench cited the example of continued use of Section 66A of the IT Act, which was struck down, and emphasized the misuse of the law to arrest thousands for circulating their views. The top court said that even the sedition law is not safe from misuse by the police against those who speak against the government. “It is like if you give a saw to the carpenter, he will cut down the whole forest. This is the effect of this law”, said the Chief Justice.
He further elaborated that even in a village police officers can enforce sedition law, and all these issues should be investigated. “My concern is about the misuse of the law. There is no accountability of the implementing agencies. I will look into it”, said the Chief Justice.
The government has already taken out many stale laws, “I don’t know why you are not looking at this law”, the Chief Justice told the AG. Venugopal replied that he fully understood the concern of the apex court.
Apex court can lay down new guidelines
He submitted that the apex court can lay down new guidelines to prohibit the use of the sedition provision only for the protection of the nation and democratic institutions. Venugopal emphasized that instead of extracting the entire law, parameters can be laid on its use.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that once the Center files its counter-affidavit on the PIL by retired Major General SG Wombatkere, the court’s work will become easier.
The apex court’s remarks came on a plea by Major General SG Vombatkere of Mysore, challenging the constitutional validity of Section 124A (sedition) of the IPC with a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Another bench of the Supreme Court had on July 12 sought response of the Center and the Attorney General on a plea challenging the constitutionality of the offense of sedition under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.