Rijiju promises relook at sedition law

Hours after filing an affidavit before the Supreme Court on Monday asking it to keep away from giving any verdict on whether to retain the sedition law, Union law minister Kiren Rijiju ruled out the extinction of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code even as he promised consultations with civil society groups and all other stakeholders for a relook at the controversial legislation.

Ruling out the complete scrapping of the law, Rijiju said that while there is unanimity about the need of the sedition law against offences affecting the sovereignty and integrity of the country and acts leading  to destabilising the government, concerns have been raised about its application and abuse. “On the direction of the Prime Minister, the government will suitably take into account views of stakeholders and ensure that the sovereignty and integrity of the nation is preserved while re-examining and re-considering the law on sedition,” Rijiju said.

He said the Centre has urged the apex court “not to invest its precious time in examining the validity of Section 124A of the IPC and await the exercise of reconsideration of Section 124(A) to be undertaken by the government”.

He said the latest position of the government was conveyed to the court after the PM expressed his “clear and unequivocal views in favour of protection of civil liber ties, respect for human rights and giving meaning to constitutional freedom”. Rijiju said that in the past few years, his government had taken several steps to remove outdated colonial laws and scrapped over 1,500 of them since 2014.

He said a larger five judge bench of the SC has already examined the issue pertaining to constitutionality of the law related to sedition in the matter of Kedarnath Singh vs State of Bihar.

The court is currently hearing a bunch of petitions with regard to the offence of sedition under Section 124A. Divergent views have emerged on its misuse and demands for scrapping of the colonial law.

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