Do we still need the colonial era sedition law, 75 years after independence: Supreme Court
New Delhi, July 15: Sedition is a colonial law which surpasses freedom, the Supreme Court has said.
It was used against Mahatma Gandhi, a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, N V Ramanna said.
Is this law necessary after 75 years of independence? I am justice indicating here what I am thinking, the CJI also said. He further said if you look at the history of the use of this section (124A of IPC), you will find that the conviction rate is very low. There is misuse of power by the executive agencies. The use of sedition law is like giving a saw to a carpenter to cut a piece of wood and he uses it to cut the entire forest itself, the CJI also said.
The court then asked the Centre if it is time to do away with the sedition law, while also saying that it is a threat on institutions and individuals. Attorney General, K K Venugopal said that strict guidelines on its working will suffice the purposes.
The plea, filed by Major-General S G Vombatkere (Retd) submitted that Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with the offence of sedition, is wholly unconstitutional and should be unequivocally and unambiguously struck down".
The petitioner contends that a statute criminalising expression based on unconstitutionally vague definitions of 'disaffection towards Government' etc. is an unreasonable restriction on the fundamental right to free expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and causes constitutionally impermissible 'Chilling Effect' on speech", the plea said.
The petition said there is need to take into account the "march of the times and the development of the law" before dealing with Section 124-A.
Earlier, a separate bench of the top court had sought response from the Centre on a plea challenging the Constitutional validity of sedition law, filed by two journalists -- Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla -- working in Manipur and Chhattisgarh respectively.