New Delhi: The sedition law has been a hotly-debated topic in India over the last few years, with many contending that it is widely misused.
On Thursday, the country’s apex court asked the Central government whether the sedition law was still required almost 75 years after the country gained Independence.
“Sedition law is a colonial law and was used by the British and to suppress freedom. It was used against Mahatma Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Is this law still needed after 75 years of independence?” the Supreme Court questioned.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana was hearing a plea by former army officer Major-General S G Vombatkere (Retd) and a batch of other petitions – including one by Editors Guild of India — challenging the constitutional validity of sedition law.
“Our concern is about the misuse of law. There is no accountability of executing agencies. I will look into it,” the CJI said.
“It is like you give a saw to carpenter, he will cut the entire forest. This is the impact of this law,” he noted.
Major-General Vombatkere’s had said in his petition that section 124 A (sedition) of the IPC causes a “chilling effect” on speech, and also curbs freedom of speech.
The Supreme Court sought the Centre’s response on pleas challenging constitutional validity of the penal law on sedition.
Attorney General Tushar Mehta defended the validity of the provision, but said that some guidelines may be laid down to curb the misuse of the sedition law.