The Supreme Court on May 11 put the sedition law in abeyance, while the Union government reconsiders whether or not the colonial-era law should exist.
A special bench comprising Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli held that all pending cases, appeals and proceedings with respect to charges framed under Section 124A should be kept in abeyance, LiveLaw reported. Adjudication on other sections invoked in these cases can continue as normal, the judges continued, with no prejudice against the accused.
“We hope and expect Centre and State Governments will refrain from registering any FIR, continuing investigation, or taking coercive steps under Section 124 A IPC when it is under reconsideration. It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further re-examination is over,” the bench stated.
Should such cases be registered, parties can approach the court and the court has to expeditiously dispose of the case, the bench added, according to Bar and Bench.
“It would be appropriate to put the provision on abeyance,” the order further said.
Those who have been convicted in sedition cases and are currently in jail can approach the appropriate courts for bail, the bench said.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), in a statement on May 12, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to put the sedition law on hold and suspend all pending trials and proceedings under it.
In the statement, JIH Vice President, Prof. Salim Engineer affirmed that this landmark interim order will effectively keep the law in abeyance. He said, “The sedition law has been frequently misused by various Central and State governments against innocent citizens whose views are critical of the government. It is a relic of the colonial era and ‘is not in tune with the current social milieu’.” He hopes that the government of India will ensure that the law is removed from the statute books altogether.
The JIH Vice President has urged the Apex Court to look into the selective use of laws like the UAPA, which is also being misused by governments to stifle dissent and the freedom to criticise. “In addition, it is the law enforcement machinery and the police that are to a large extent responsible for misusing these penal laws thereby making them draconian. There must be some legislation to create accountability for the police officers, thereby ensuring that anyone found guilty of misusing the law be liable to be punished,” he added.