In a historic event Supreme Court stayed the registration of FIRs, ongoing probes and coercive measures on the matter across the country until an “appropriate forum” of the govt re-examines the colonial era penal law
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for sedition. The Indian Penal Code was enacted in 1860, under the British Raj. Section 124A forms part of Chapter VI of the Code which deals with offences against the state.
Putting on hold the sedition law, the Supreme Court stayed the registration of FIRs, ongoing probes and coercive measures on the matter across the country until an “appropriate forum” of the government re-examines the colonial era penal law.
In its significant order on the law that has been under intense public scrutiny, a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said there was need to balance the interest of civil liberties and interests of citizens with that of the state. Taking note of the concerns of the Centre, the apex court said the “rigours of Section 124A (sedition) of the IPC is not in tune with the current social milieu” and permitted reconsideration of the provision.
The bench, also comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohil, directed the Centre and states to not register any fresh FIR invoking sedition charges until the sedition law is “under reconsideration”.
The court listed the matter in the third week of July and said its directions shall continue till further orders.
The Congress on Wednesday hailed the Supreme Court’s decision to put on hold the sedition law, saying a clear cut message has gone to subjugators of dissent that “you can no longer suppress the voice of truth” and those critical of the government must be heard.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said “telling the truth is patriotism, not treason” and listening to the truth is ‘Rajdharma’, while crushing the truth is “arrogance”. Do not fear, he urged people in his Twitter post reacting to the top court’s decision.
Reacting to the development, Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said speaking truth to power cannot be sedition for it is “true nationalism and the true test” of how committed one is to the country and to the people.
“Supreme Court has finally spoken in a historical verdict by staying the sedition law. A clear cut message has gone today to suppressors and subjugators of public opinion, of dissent, of everyone who criticises the autocratic and dictatorial rulers and their policies, that you can no longer suppress the voice of truth, dissent, those critical of government must be heard and course corrections need to be done,” Surjewala said in a statement.
In a tweet, Surjewala said, “Historic indeed! Supreme Court has sent a clear message. Suppressors & subjugators sitting in citadels of power be forewarned — Free Speech will not be throttled by autocrats & dictators masquerading as rulers.”
“Speaking truth to power can’t be sedition & status quo will change,” he said.
“We fought against the British, the sedition law was heaped upon the crores and lakhs of Congressmen by the British and that law needs to go now,” he said.
The Congress promised this in its 2019 Election manifesto, the Supreme Court has finally spoken and the Constitution will be upheld and the voice of truth and those speaking truth to power will finally have their way, he asserted.