'Consultation on re-examining sedition law at an advanced stage,' Centre to SC

Before it goes to the Parliament, it will be shown to the CJI, the AG said

Supreme Court of India (Photo: NH File Photo)
Supreme Court of India (Photo: NH File Photo)


The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that consultation on re-examining sedition law is at an advanced stage.

Attorney General R. Venkataramani, representing the Centre, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, said that the government has initiated the process to re-examine Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.

The bench, also comprising justice J.B. Pardiwala, posted the matter for hearing in the second week of August.

The AG submitted that the consultation process is at an advanced stage and before it goes to the Parliament, it will be shown to the CJI, as he urged the court to schedule the matter for hearing after the monsoon session of the Parliament.

Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan contended that the court could constitute a bench of seven judges for adjudicating the issues. The bench observed that the matter will be first placed before a five-judge bench, even if it is referred to a seven-judge bench.

In the hearing before lunch, the Chief Justice queried advocate Kanu Agarwal, representing the Central government, what is the stand of the Centre and what is the progress of the committee?

Agarwal submitted that it must be seen if a change will apply prospectively or retrospectively, and needs to take instructions in the matter. At this juncture, the Chief Justice said, "Otherwise, we will decide it judicially."

However, the bench agreed to take up the matter after lunch. The AG appeared before court in the afternoon session.

The top court was hearing a clutch of petitions challenging Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises sedition.

On May 11 last year, the Supreme Court had said that it is cognisant of the integrity of the state on one hand, and the civil liberties of citizens on the other, as it put on hold the colonial-era penal provision of sedition.

The apex court had asked the Centre and state governments to refrain from registering any FIRs under the sedition provision, Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, till the review of the law by the Centre is complete.

The top court order came on a batch of pleas filed by Major General S.G. Vombatkere (retd) and others, challenging the constitutional validity of Section 124A, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

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