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Supreme Court on Sedition Law

It Is Time To Define The Limits of Sedition: SC:

 

The Supreme Court has said, “it is time to define the limits of sedition”.

  • The observation was made while dealing with the writ petitions filed by two news channels seeking the quashing of FIR and contempt petitions.
  • The Andhra Government had slapped charges against two Telugu news channels — TV5 and ABN Andhra Jyothi for alleged sedition in showing ‘offensive’ speeches of two leaders.

Petitioners’ arguments:

  • They said the government’s action is a violation of the earlier SC order (April 30), which restrains the arrest and prosecution against citizens for ventilating grievances with respect to Covid-19 issues.

The court has sought the response of the state government within four weeks on the pleas of the channels which are charged for various offences including the harsh penal offence of sedition.

General observations made by the Court on Sedition:

  • It is time we define the limits of sedition.
  • Provisions of 124A (sedition) and 153 (promoting enmity between classes) of the IPC require interpretation, particularly on the issue of the rights of the press and free speech.

The sedition law has been indiscriminately used against critics, journalists, social media users, activists and citizens for airing their grievances about the government’s COVID-19 management, or even for seeking help to gain medical access, equipment, drugs and oxygen cylinders, especially during the second wave of the pandemic.

Sedition:

  • Section 124A of the IPC states, “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the government established by law in shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”

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