Supreme Court to hear Arun Shourie's plea challenging sedition law on May 5

The plea elaborates that whether a speech will cause disorder or not depends not only on its content but also on the nature of the listener, his opportunities and the state of the country at the time

Published: 28th April 2022 08:16 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th April 2022 08:16 PM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court

Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to list former Union minister for Communication and Information Technology Arun Shourie’s petition challenging the constitutional validity of the section 124-A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code on May 5.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan mentioned the matter before the top court and said that he had filed the plea in July 2021 but it hasn’t been listed till now. The bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana tagged the case with some other pleas that are to be heard on May 5.

The top court is scheduled to conduct the final hearing on the petitions challenging the constitutionality of section 124-A of IPC, 1860 on May 5.

The petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan says that sedition is a colonial law which was used expressly to suppress dissent by the British in India. It adds that the provision is violative of Articles 14, 19(1) (a), & 21 of the Constitution of India and sought it to be declared unconstitutional.

The plea by Shourie and NGO Common Cause contends that the offence of sedition is vague and fails to define criminal offence with sufficient clarity.

The plea elaborates that whether a speech will cause disorder or not depends not only upon its content but also upon the nature of the listener, his opportunities and the state of the country at the time.
“The offence under section 124-A is complete if a person speaks anything that has the tendency to create public disorder or disturbance of public peace or law and order without in any manner impacting public order. Hence the section doesn’t have any proximate relationship with the public order as there is no proximate connection between the instigation and public order. Therefore, this court must strike down Section 124-A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 for infringing Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution,” it said.

The petition submits that when the judgment in the Kedar Nath case was considered and delivered, the offence of sedition was non-cognizable. The offence was made cognizable only by virtue of the introduction of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, it said.

“In other words, when Kedar Nath was considered there were some procedural safeguards against the abuse of Section 124A that have been thereafter done away with and hence the need to revisit the judgement in Kedar Nath in these changed circumstances. As the section is now cognizable and non-bailable, innocent citizens are facing the brunt of malicious cases. By the time the courts step in to apply the interpretation accorded in Kedar Nath to the facts of the cases, citizens have already had to suffer the deprivation of their liberty,” the plea added.


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