How Indian political parties reacted to Supreme Court’s sedition law position
- India is reviewing its colonial era sedition law
- The sedition law is contained in Article 124A of the Indian Constitution
- The sedition law is alleged to have been used by governments to stifle dissent
The Indian Supreme Court’s order to hold sedition cases in abeyance until the Union government completes its re-evaluation of the contentious Article 124A, the country’s sedition law, has attracted several responses from India’s political establishment. Indian Law Minister Kiran Rijiju said Wednesday that the government has made its position clear and while he “respected the court and its independence,” there is a “Lakshman Rekha,” or line not meant to be crossed.
The law minister’s comment comes after the Indian government, on Monday, said that it wants to review the sedition law. At the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that while the law will be reviewed pending cases should not be held in abeyance.
Also Read | How India's sedition law came into being
“We do not know the gravity of offences pan-India. There may be other terrorism charges too in these cases. These pending cases are not before police or government. But they are before Court. So, we should not guess the wisdom of Courts,” Mehta said.
“A cognisable offence cannot be prevented from being registered, staying the effect may not be a correct approach and therefore, there has to be a responsible officer for scrutiny, and his satisfaction is subject to judicial review,” Mehta added.
Indian Supreme Court Chief Justice NV Ramana, however, said: “It is clear that Centre agrees that the rigours of (sedition) are not in tune with the current situation. It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further re-examination is over.”
“We hope and expect that centre and state will desist from registering any FIR under 124A or initiate proceeding under the same till re-examination is over.”
The Supreme Court’s position saw the law minister remind the apex court of a “Lakshman Rekha” (a final line), apparently referring to the separation of powers of between the legislature and the judiciary.
All organs must respect each other and “whatever we say and do we have to ensure that we respect the provisions and Constitution of India and all the existing laws,” said Rijiju.
Congress, India’s principal opposition party, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: “free Speech will not be throttled by autocrats & dictators masquerading as rulers.”
“Supreme Court has sent a clear message,” said his tweet.
The Congress spokesperson further wrote: “Speaking truth to power can’t be sedition and the status quo will change.”